LinkedIn For Professional Service Firms Makes Perfect Sense
Organic: Refers to social media attention you earn based on the quality of your content, without having to pay to promote that content
The idea of jumping on social media and making millions off the organic virality of a few well-developed posts is obsolete.
Social media networks are a lot like Hollywood in that what appears to be overnight success is usually the result of careful planning and a long-term financial investment to support consistent growth that eventually reaches a tipping point in popularity.
Clients who joined the social media band wagon years ago and gleaned enough attention to quickly and organically grow their communities and make sales by simply posting content, have seen their organic reach decrease for years from 40% of people seeing your posts, to 20%, to 10% to lower than 1% currently. Facebook marketers: You know the hell of which I write…
The way to get around decreasing organic visibility? Pay for views through ads or boosted posts.
I think that, in 2018, it’s safe to say that the major networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have shifted from social networks, to advertising platforms.
So, the question is ‘are there any truly organic networks left?’ and the answer is yes, there are, but you need to leverage them quickly for all mainstream networks are moving in the same direction.
I believe that for professional service companies and B2B businesses, LinkedIn is the only mainstream network left that can still be generate good business opportunities without spending to advertise posts.
Why LinkedIn for professional service firms?
LinkedIn has long been the key network for B2B businesses and professional service firms, and since Microsoft acquired it two years back, its numbers have mushroomed, however its demographics are still skewed towards corporate decision makers who are college/university educated and make over $90k per year.
There is less noise on LinkedIn than other networks, and the real value is that LinkedIn is as good as the personal network you create, so users have an element of control over how well this network works for them, beyond just how much money they spend (as is the case with Facebook.)
Unlike Facebook, on LinkedIn, you can still generate lots of business without spending a dime. And if you have a budget, LinkedIn’s smaller but focused userbase makes it easier to cut through the noise and gain traction from the money you do spend. It’s a win-win.
How can professional service firms use LinkedIn effectively?
One: Focus on personal profiles over company pages
A lot of business will maintain a company page, and that’s great; it’s important. But the real opportunities on LinkedIn are when employees use their personal profiles to create business networks that can be leveraged in activities.
Given the choice between supporting a company page and supporting a key employee’s profile, the latter is the better investment.
Companies will sometimes push back and cite the risk in supporting a sales exec on LinkedIn when that person could leave the company, but the argument is silly when that same company will support that employees efforts to cultivate a network in old fashioned ways like large expense accounts, travel and company cars. It’s the same level of risk, except that it’s easier to mitigate the LinkedIn risk by having a policy in place beforehand.
Two: Build out your community with people specifically chosen because they are in your target market
Every time you are at a meeting, an event, a lunch, a conference, walking the dog, and you meet a new contact, connect with them on LinkedIn.
The goal is to develop a large database of first degree contacts on LinkedIn who are within your target demographic. If you are an accountant, you may want to create a network of business owners. If you’re an employment lawyer, HR contacts and hiring managers would be ideal.
Once you connect with people, LinkedIn loves to suggest other contacts using its algorithm. Go through these suggestions with an eye to titles and descriptions and DO connect to those suggested people who suit your demographic.
Three: Post daily content
This is a big one. If a lawyer works hard to cultivate a network of accountants (let’s say her practice focuses on accountants), then it makes sense for her to post content that will be of specific value to accountants.
“But I don’t want to inundate my contacts!”
Ah, this is THE most common concern I get, and the response is ‘if only!’
The reality is that, if you post five times per week (once per day) then 60% of your network will be shown one of your posts. That stat comes from LinkedIn so it’s legit, and it certainly addresses the issue. You couldn’t inundate if you wanted to!
But what our lawyer can do, is use that attention to make sure that the content she posts is super-valuable to her accountant clients and their colleagues and friends in the industry.
Each time a follower likes or comments on her post, that post will be shown to more people within her own networks and – bonus – to a percentage of people within the accountant’s network. Engagement begets engagement, which begets visibility which creates opportunity…
Four: Reach out and be of service
The whole point of creating your LinkedIn database (especially if you’re in a professional service) is to create real relationships with people in your target market. This is the keystone of why LinkedIn for professional service firms is so effective.
Professional service relationships are built on trust. LinkedIn helps us to build that trust.
On LinkedIn, we connect with prospects (and clients) so that we can easily reach out if we need something, or they can easily reach us if they need something. We post content to generate conversation so enhance the relationship. We write recommendations to support their excellent work and endorsements to acknowledge their skill sets.
When someone connects to you or agrees to accept your connection invite, send them a real note thanking them. This is an area where a lot of folks fall down on LinkedIn, so I’ve written a handy chart to help you wrap your head around LinkedIn etiquette:
|INCLUDE IN YOUR NOTE||
DO NOT INCLUDE IN YOUR NOTE
|“Thank you for connecting/reaching out/accepting my invite”
“Please feel free to go through my contacts and reach out if you would like an introduction”
A link under your sign-off to a relevant landing page on your website
|Info about you, your company or product (too soon!)
An offer (too obnoxious)
Anything other than a ‘thank you for connecting’ and an invitation for them to go through your contacts (be of service)
Any explanation about the link below your sign-off (see point #1 in this paragraph)
Now you have a rapport. A rapport that is friendly, and human, and real. Wait two or three weeks before you reach out to that contact again, and only reach out for real reasons. For example, inviting them to an event that might interest them, asking them for coffee if you’ll be in their area, etc. But again, no hard sales.
Five: Don’t leave ‘em hanging
When you post content, and your contacts comment, comment back every time. Even if that commenter is not in your target market, remember that the more engagement a post receives, the more people LinkedIn will show that post to.
Responding to commenters on LinkedIn is NEVER a waste of time. Recognize that every comment and like helps, and is most welcome.
Think of it like this, you’ve worked so hard to develop a great LinkedIn profile, you’ve taken time each month to curate or write targeted posts that will be helpful to your clients, and you’re logging in at least three times per week to send notes, respond to notes, etc. and why? To generate attention! So, when a person finally notices (perhaps a friend of a client?), and puts up their hand to high-five you, are you really going to ignore them?! Be social, my friends. After all, business opportunities come from relationships, one way or another.
Remember, there are real people on the other side of that screen, real people who care, and real people who may be interested in your service and becoming your next favourite client.
Always respond, always treat them as you would wish to be treated and take the time to leverage each relationship, just as you would if that person was actually sitting in front of you.
That’s how business has always been done, and LinkedIn doesn’t change that, it makes it easier. The bottom line is that LinkedIn for professional service firms makes good business sense. To find out more about our LinkedIn for Lawyers or LinkedIn For Professionals program, simply follow the links!