Tag Archives: social media for professional services

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

“How do you encourage professional service providers like lawyers, accountants & engineers who’re used to using a more formal language style in their comms to adopt a more relaxed & social attitude?”

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

This question was posed recently by Julie South in the LinkedIn group: Social Media for Lead Generation in Professional Services firms. It’s something a number of professional services marketers struggle with.

Here’s how I responded:

“I do understand why many professionals do find it hard to relax their style particularly when their day-to-day work requires formal language and they’ve been trained that way. There are a few things that worked for me when I worked in firms and that have worked since. 

1. Interview them and then write the piece yourself – I’ve found this much easier than editing and the professionals I’ve worked with tend to like it because it’s easier for them.
2. Interview them and put the piece out as audio or video. If you’re sitting off camera and asking the person questions, they tend to come across as more relaxed.
3. Get them to dictate their piece, have their PA type it up and then edit that! Again, spoken language tends to be more informal. Tell them they just have to go with stream of consciousness and not to think too hard – they can edit it later.
4. Ask them to imagine they’re talking to a particular client and have to persuade them / or tell them exactly why X is a big issue, or they need to act on Y.
5. Give them some specific questions they need to answer.”

Have  you tried any of these tactics? Which have worked best?

Are there other things you’ve tried that have worked well? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: www.lawcrossing.com

LinkedIn groups: a key way to generate leads

According to a new infographic by Oktopost, 80% of B2B leads are through LinkedIn. The most popular method to generate leads and to then convert those leads is to get involved in group discussions.

LinkedIn groups: a key way to generate leads

The power of groups often goes unrecognised by those in professional services. Well-run groups are their own community of people with similar interests.They’re a great place for you to find and engage your prospects. From there and over time you can generate leads and new work. 

While you’ll definitely want to join groups to which your ideal prospects belong, you should consider setting up your own group if there’s a gap.

Why set up your own LinkedIn group?

There are multiple benefits of doing so, including:

  • Building your profile in your area of expertise.
  • Positioning yourself as an authority in your area.
  • Finding and attracting those with similar interests or who may need your help.
  • Widening your professional network by building relationships with group members.
  • Learning more about the views and perspectives of those in your industry.
  • Establishing a community.
  • Generating interest in you and your firm, including inbound enquiries.

However, if you decide to do so you’ll need to make sure you plan it properly and designate time to build it.

How to set up and run a LinkedIn group that delivers value to its members

The vast majority of LinkedIn groups are a waste of time because they haven’t been nurtured or policed. As a result they’re either very small with little activity or they’re full of spam. To make sure yours doesn’t go the same way, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Plan – what’s the purpose of your group? What’s the scope of discussions you want to see? Who do you want to join? What discussions will you start each week?
  2. Create your group – ensure you use Keywords in the name so that people searching the LinkedIn groups directory can easily find it, and write a clear summary and description that will appeal to those you want to join.
  3. SKIP the step which prompts you to send invitations to join your group – why would anyone want to join an unpopulated group?
  4. Populate your group with at least 2 discussions. A welcome discussion is always a good one, as people like to comment on these.
  5. Get your house in order by selecting your settings, permissions, drafting your group rules, templates and setting up sub-groups (if appropriate).
  6. Pre-approve your group managers (you can have up to 10 including the Owner) and a few ‘friendly’ clients and colleagues who you’d like to join the group early. The aim is to get them to comment on the existing discussions and to add their own so that, when you invite others to join, there is already some activity.
  7. You’re now ready to invite others. You can use LinkedIn’s standard one liner but it doesn’t really tell people why they should join so you may want to consider a personalised email to each of those you wish to invite. You can work from a template so it’s simply a case of inserting their name each time.
  8. Commit to ongoing moderation of your group. If people have to request to join or have their discussions approved before they’ll post (a good option to prevent spam), ensure you, or one of the group managers, goes in at least once a day to do so. It’s really frustrating for group members if they try to post something and it takes a week or two to be approved – often it’s out of date by that time.
  9. Start one new discussion each week in the early days. If you want people to return to your group it’s important that there’s fresh, relevant content. You’ll need to drive this until the group takes on a life of its own.
  10. Comment on others’ discussions and stay involved in threads that you start. You may want to summarise these at the end or to put together blog posts summarising a discussion. Remember to give credit to each contributor.
  11. Continue to invite people to join the group and encourage others to do so. You may want to ask your PA to send out a certain number of invites on your behalf each week.
  12. Promote your LinkedIn group. For example, you could include it in your email signature, on your website, your blog, your newsletters etc.
  13. Look for opportunities to move relationships beyond LinkedIn. For example, you may want to hold an event or a webinar for group members, you may invite someone in the group to write a guest article, you may seek their opinion on something. The options are endless.
  14. Monitor and analyse key statistics about your group. This will enable you to track its growth, determine what’s working well, understand what you need to do differently, and track leads generated by the group.

How’s doing so benefited others? 

In early 2011, a lawyer I know set up a group on employment law issues for HR Directors and Managers. A little over a year later the group had grown to over 1,000 members and the firm had hosted two HR Question Times in its offices. In total, almost 200 people attended, the vast majority of who were NOT clients of the firm.

The lawyer and his colleagues were able to start to build relationships and to generate work as a result. He describes this as the most successful business development initiative his firm has ever undertaken. The group now has over 1,600 members.

Here are links to two audio interviews with other successful LinkedIn Group owners:

An interview with Tom Skotidas, who runs the group Social media for lead generation

An interview with John Grimley, who runs the groups International Business Development Blog and Asia Law Portal.

To benefit from running a LinkedIn group you’ve got to be prepared to give it the time and effort it deserves (I spend around 30-60 mins a week on the group I run). However, the effort is well worth it. Remember to focus on others and their needs rather than how they can help you, and you’ll start to see a pay-off.

If you would like more info about setting up and running a successful LinkedIn group, my e-book “Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups: Network with the right people. Generate new leads. Get new business” is now available for NZ$ 18.97. 

Image Credit: www.funnyjunksite.com

Professionals: stop wasting your time on LinkedIn

“‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. `Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

`I don’t much care where–’ said Alice.

`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

`–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’”  ~Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Professionals: stop wasting your time on LinkedIn

It seems that many professionals are on LinkedIn but are doing nothing with it. Like Alice, they’re wandering aimlessly. Yet many think that LinkedIn’s going to miraculously deliver them some work.

It won’t.

Not unless you put the time and effort in and use it purposefully.

The top 8 ways professionals waste time on LinkedIn and a solution for each!

# 1: Not being clear about what you want LinkedIn to help you to achieve and how you’re going to use it

If you don’t have clear goals then what are you going to measure?

And how are you going to use the platform consistently over time to:

  • expand your knowledge,
  • position yourself,
  • overcome being pigeon-holed,
  • stay top of mind with your existing clients and/or
  • attract more of your ideal prospects?

Solution: download our LinkedIn action plan template and use it to determine how you will use the platform.

# 2: Using LinkedIn in isolation

LinkedIn works best when it’s used to support your other efforts. It can be a catalyst for getting new work but it’s rarely the sole reason why. Yet it can add rocket-fuel to your existing business development and marketing initiatives.

If you want to know how, take a look at the posts highlighted below, each of which deal with a different aspect of professional services firm’s BD and marketing activities:

How can professional services firms use social media to increase their tender success rate?

11 ways to showcase your expertise using social media 

Social media: firing up key client and practice group planning

How to use LinkedIn to power up your events

Solution: Think about how LinkedIn can support your existing initiatives and incorporate this into your strategy.

# 3: Having a sub-standard profile

There is NO excuse for a sub-standard profile.

You’re a professional.

You want to make a good impression on both your existing connections, business partners, referrers and prospects.

How are you going to do that if you can’t even pull a decent profile together?

Solution: If you’re on LinkedIn to develop your practice, PLEASE PLEASE (at the very least) do the following:

- Upload a professional looking photo

- Make sure your professional headline says what you do or who and how you can help

- Customize your public profile URL (so that you get found before others’ who share your name)

- Complete the summary section setting out:

  • Who you help
  • What you help them with
  • Your approach to working with your clients
  • Some results you’ve achieved
  • A bit about your interests outside of work
  • A call to action.
- Upload or add links, tips, Whitepapers, presentations, videos…or anything that will help to EVIDENCE your capabilities. You can do so at the bottom of the summary section, and in the experience and education sections.
- List your skills in the skills and endorsements section. Make it easy for people to endorse you for skills for which you wish to be recognised. Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself being endorsed for skills you don’t have (thanks to LinkedIn’s algorithm that determines suggestions in the blue box that appears on users homepages every now and again!)
- Make it easy for people to contact you by including your contact details within your profile – both in the contact info section and in the section RIGHT down the bottom ‘Contact [Name] for…’

# 4: not taking an active approach to connecting with others

LinkedIn at a very basic level is a living, breathing address book where people update their own details. It’s likely to be much more up-to-date than many professional services firms’ CRMs.

The more people you connect to, the more people see your status updates. You can use these to position yourself but if you’re not connected to many people then hardly anyone will see them.
And you won’t get as good search results when using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature (unless you opt for a paid account, or Xray search into LinkedIn using Google). This means it won’t be as useful a planning and research tool as it could be.
Solution: Connect to your colleagues (this will help you market yourself internally), your clients, referrers, and other business contacts and nurture these contacts – share status updates that they’re going to find useful.
Whenever you return from a new business meeting or event, invite the person/people you met to connect with you. Aim to grow your connections over time.

# 5: Inactivity

If you’ve decided you ONLY want to use LinkedIn as a living address book then don’t worry about being active.

BUT if you want to position yourself or grow your practice you need to get active. Otherwise you’re missing out on the opportunity to become synonymous with the work you do and to stay top of mind with the people you want to help.
Essentially, you’re making it easy for them to choose one of your competitors over you!
Solution: Aim to share at least 1 piece of third-party content each week and 1 piece of original content (i.e. compiled by you, someone in your team or your wider firm) that’s going to be RELEVANT to your connections or fellow group members.
In addition, aim to comment on, like or share 1 piece of content shared by a connection and someone in one of your groups.

# 6: Taking a short-term ‘sales’ approach

No-one’s on LinkedIn to be sold to.

They’re on there to network, to learn and, yep, to sell. But to sell in a none-salesy way. Before you can even attempt to sell, you have to DEMONSTRATE your value and help others.

It’s fine to use Inmail and ask for introductions but you’d better be damn sure to spell out the VALUE to the other person of doing what you ask of them. And it’s going to be much more effective if people ‘know’, like and have begun to trust you first.

Solution: Be active by sharing helpful content, helping others and commenting on their discussions. Position yourself by being generous. Then, when you ask for help or a meeting, people are much more likely to say ‘yes’. And the outcome is much more likely to be positive.

# 7: Ignoring the power of LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn groups are a great tool to reach more of your ideal prospects and another place to position yourself with your clients and other connections.

By joining well-managed groups to which you can add value, you can begin to extend your reach.

You will need to find these groups though (which can be difficult given that the majority are a waste of space either because they’re inactive or full of spam).

Solution: join well-managed groups and consider setting up your own either as a team or in conjunction with one or two non-competing professionals. Building a group is a great way to set up a community of people with a common interest and to become a valuable resource to them over time. If you want to know how to set up and run a group that people want to join, get our Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups eBook for NZ$18.97,

# 8: A lack of measurement or measuring the wrong things

There’s little point in measuring things that have nothing to do with you achieving your goals. Vanity metrics such as number of likes, shares etc. are flattering but are they helping you get to where you want to be?

If not then ignore them.

Solution: pick a few key measures that are aligned with your objectives. Measure your performance over time and in conjunction with your other initiatives so that you can assess LinkedIn’s impact. Where possible, benchmark against past data so that you know whether what you’re doing is working.

It’s incredibly easy to waste time on LinkedIn. Yet it can be an AMAZINGLY powerful tool if used sensibly.

What other mistakes have you made, or seen other professionals making, on LinkedIn? 

If you want to stop wasting time on LinkedIn and start harnessing it’s power to grow your practice, sign up for our 10 week mini-course and be first to hear about our forthcoming online course with actionable modules “Grow your Practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers”, your roadmap to LinkedIn success.

Image Credit: elderderekbird.blogspot.com

13 examples of good LinkedIn etiquette

Why do people behave differently on social networks than at in-person networking events?

What is good LinkedIn etiquette?

Is it that all rational thought goes out the window when facing a computer or device screen (I admit, it does sometimes seem that way) or is it that they’ve never been taught? Continue reading

11 ways to showcase your professional expertise using social media

A recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog talked about three forgotten drivers of professional services firm performance. It argued that:

“when there is uncertainty about the quality of a product or service, firms do not have to rely on differentiation in order to obtain a competitive advantage. Whether you’re a law firm or a hairdresser, people will find it difficult – at least beforehand – to assess how good you really are. But customers, nonetheless, have to pick one.”

10 ways to showcase your professional talent using social media

Continue reading

How to do social media (well) at corporate level

I am a big believer that social media is predominantly about people connecting with other people. Even the world’s largest brands are using their people to form stronger relationships with their customers and prospects.

Social media at a corporate level

It’s no longer sufficient to hide behind a brand. And I don’t believe that’s ever really been the case in the professional services world. Continue reading

How to handle online complaints in this social media age

Last week a contact of mine, Guy Alvarez, shared a link to an article about a British Airways passenger who had paid over $1,000 on a promoted tweet telling people not to fly the airline because it lost his luggage.

How to handle online complaints in this social media age

BA’s customer service team didn’t handle the situation well so the passenger paid to get his message heard and made sure it appeared in the twitter feeds of followers of BA.

Ouch. Continue reading

Be passionate and know your niche – positioning yourself online

If you want to use social media to help you position yourself, you’ve got to answer a fundamental question first:

What do you want to be known for?

It sounds like a simple enough question but it’s amazing how many professionals don’t have a clear answer.

You can’t be all things to all people, so the first step is to define your niche – what issues or things are you going to help people with and who are these people? For example, a divorce lawyer might position themselves as a divorce lawyer for women or a childs rights’ advocate. An accountant may position themselves as a virtual CFO…the opportunities are endless. Continue reading

Professional services firms: Don’t underestimate the power of the familiarity principle

by Kirsten Hodgson

The familiarity principle, or mere-exposure effect, “is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.” (Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I recommended a professional I’d never met to a contact because I was confident that person could help. Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that a couple of my ‘real world’ contacts could probably also have helped. This led me to question why I’d recommended the person I didn’t actually know.

I realised it was because I feel like I know them. This is a person I’m connected to on LinkedIn, I follow them on Twitter and they share some good content. I’ve built a rapport with them. As  a result, I have confidence in them and they were top of mind when my contact asked for a referral.

This is the familiarity principle at work.

It’s easy to see why someone travelling through Africa would choose “Coke” over the local equivalent they’ve never heard of. It’s a safe option and you know what you’re getting but…

…how can those in professional services take advantage of this principle?

It’s largely about being visible. If someone’s regularly writing articles or a blog on a topic, or is regularly quoted in the media, people will get to know their name and can make a judgement call about whether they know what they’re talking about. Over time, the person becomes more familiar and people will be more likely to contact that person over his or her competitors.

Being present on social networks, and actively engaging with those you wish to, also enables professionals to benefit from the Familiarity Principle.

How?

The more you see someone’s name, photo, content they share and comments (provided these resonate with you), the more you feel like you know them.

If you are active (in a targeted way) on social networks then you’re likely to notice that more people want to connect with you. If you then seek to build relationships one at a time, and help others out, they’ll start to trust you.

It’s at this point that the other person is usually happy to use you or to recommend your services.

Actively using social media is a great way to make the familiarity principle work for you. It’s one way to find opportunities and turn them into instructions.

7 steps to ensure you benefit from the familiarity principle on social networks

1. Ensure your profile is complete and that it clearly positions you. Be focused in terms of your profile and the content you share. Stand for something. You can’t be all things to all people so be really clear about who you help and what you help them with.

2. Every time someone invites you to connect and you accept, go back to them thanking them for connecting and ask them a question about their business.

3. Every time you invite someone to connect with you, send them a tailored invite.

4. Share at least one piece of content each week (on LinkedIn, Google+ and/or Facebook) and one per day on Twitter, that will be of interest and use to those you wish to engage. Often this will be content one of your contacts has generated. Sharing other people’s content is a great way to get on their radar and to initiate a conversation with them.

5. Comment on discussions on LinkedIn and Google+ and on relevant posts on Facebook. Aim to comment on one discussion/post per week.

6. Use the reply or direct message functionality on Twitter and the email option on LinkedIn to have conversations with others. Aim to do this at least once a week.

7. Always focus on helping others out by pointing them to information to help address a question they have or by introducing them to someone in your network they’d benefit from meeting. In terms of frequency, I aim to introduce two people in my network each month.

What else would you add? 

How’s the familiarity principle worked for you in social media? 

Image courtesy Andy Newson/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How can professional services firms use social media to increase their tender success rate?

by Kirsten Hodgson

More often than not, professional services firms know when an organisation will be going out to tender, well before the tendering organisation issues the RFP or EOI.

They may have told you.

They re-tender every two to three years.

Or, there’ve been reports they’re looking to rationalise their spend, initiate a project etc.

Professional services firms spend a lot of time and money evaluating whether or not to pitch for work and, if so, compiling their proposal.

The enlightened ones even look for ways to tip the level playing field in their favour before the tender’s been put out.

This is where social media can really help.

How can leveraging social media help professional services firms to increase their tender success rate?

Looking at who’s on social media platforms within the target organisation will help you to identify the likely decision makers, influencers, veto-holders and gatekeepers.

You can use this information to compile your Who knows Who matrix.

You can then ensure members of your team connect with as many of these people as possible – be it by inviting them to connect on LinkedIn, by joining the same groups or communities on LinkedIn or Google+, by following them on Twitter, or friending them on Facebook (if appropriate).

You’ll likely be thinking about the key issues and considerations for the target organisation – be it in relation to a particular project they’re putting out to tender, or more broadly in the case of a panel tender.

Once you have a list, you can develop content that will be both of interest, and relevant, to the target organisation. This will help to position you as ‘experts’ in your area and/or their industry sector.

As well as sharing this content strategically via traditional means such as a news alert, and on your website you can also share it via social networks.

Those connected to the decision makers, influencers, gatekeepers and veto-holders can share this content via their personal feeds such as their LinkedIn updates, their Twitter account, their Facebook page or their Google+ account.

In addition, you could post it in relevant group or community discussions on LinkedIn and Google+, and put it on your company page, firm Twitter feed, Facebook page etc. In this way, you’re softly positioning your firm well before the RFP’s been issued and are ensuring that, should someone from the target organisation check you out, they’re likely to see this content.

When compiling your RFP response, you can point to the central repository for this content, be it your website, your blog or You Tube.

In some cases, firms may want to take it one step further and tailor specific professionals’ online profiles for a particular opportunity. This would involve a bit of work but, where an opportunity is of strategic importance to a firm, it may pay to ensure that profiles highlight those areas of key interest to the target client shortly before and during the pitch process. Profiles can easily be changed back afterwards.

Do any firms do this already?

I’ve anecdotally heard of a firm in the US that strategically places content on LinkedIn prior to RFPs being issued. They’re looking to position themselves in the tendering organisation’s eyes early. I think that’s a really smart approach.

I’m not aware of other firms doing this at this stage, but would love to hear of more examples if you’re aware of any.

Your 6-step approach to leveraging social media for RFP success

1. Use features such as LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to identify who, within the tendering organisation, is likely to be involved or have some input into the evaluation process.

2. Identify the key issues and considerations for the tendering organisation using your usual processes such as coffees/meetings with the client, strategy sessions with the client, client interviews, secondee interviews etc. and develop a content plan for the months leading up to the pitch. This can be as simple as a calendar setting out what you will be compiling when. Actively hunt out relevant third party content too, and build this into your plan. 

3. Develop/source the appropriate content.

4. Share this via social networks  - e.g.

  • directly with specific contacts (if and when appropriate), via a professional’s personal LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook accounts if he/she is directly connected with, or followed by, one or more of those who will be involved in the decision making process.
  • within LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities. 
  • on your website, your firm’s Twitter feed, Facebook page, and LinkedIn company page
When doing so, don’t forget to ask a question to encourage discussion and debate. 
5. Stay actively involved in any discussion threads around the content you’ve shared. 
6. Refer to your repository of content, where appropriate, in your RFP response.
Do you know of any firms already doing this?
How else could professional services firms leverage social media to increase their RFP success rate?