Friday, 4 November 2011

Social Media Stage 1: Leveraging LinkedIn

Our previous blog post highlighted a Social Media Roadmap for Professional Services firms. Now we are going to build on that by sharing the practical steps you can take to build your firms visibility through social media. The first stage is all about leveraging LinkedIn. Most professionals have a profile on LinkedIn however it is surprising to see how many have failed to use this powerful tool to increase awareness of their firm or harness its potential to generate business leads.

LinkedIn has over 100m+ professionals around the world with 20m+ members in Europe, 5m+ in the UK and more than 2m companies have LinkedIn Company Pages (June 2011). It is a rich source of information on prospects, hot topics and recommended service providers. The following practical guidelines outline current LinkedIn best practice:
  1. Ensure your staff have built professional looking, complete personal profiles on LinkedIn and have connected to known contacts/relationships and embedded links to company websites, Blogs, Twitter etc.
  2. Build a full company profile for your business on LinkedIn that addresses the needs of staff, potential staff and potential clients. LinkedIn automatically links all current/former employees, new hires/promotions etc.
  3. Seek recommendations as individuals and service providers and make recommendations where appropriate.
  4. Consider adding a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signatures. LinkedIn provides a useful tool to generate a html signature for your email with a link to your profile.
  5. Share valuable content with your network by posting status updates from your LinkedIn home page. This is where some professionals get it wrong. Remember value is from a recipients perspective and not from your perspective.
  6. Identify, join and engage in groups that are relevant to your knowledge area and target prospects (roles and markets). Integrate this with your lead generation campaigns to post links to suitable (valuable) content in your blog or on your website.
  7. Participate in relevant group discussions and start discussions within groups. Treat any postings the same as you would treat any professional face-to-face discussion. Be professional and courteous. Demonstrate and illustrate your knowledge and capability. If you select to be updated on the discussion you participate in LinkedIn will automatically email you when someone posts a comment. This is great for building online conversations and ultimately business relationships.
  8. Research target prospects through LinkedIn, look for 2nd & 3rd level connections and identify how you can get warm introductions through your professional network.
  9. Use the Inmail function to access key prospects with a concise and compelling opener to engage them. (Requires a subscription to LinkedIn).
  10. Monitor the Questions & Answers in your defined topic areas for opportunities to contribute answers and ideally ‘get rated’ by the person who asked the question.
Some professionals tell us that they never know what to post on LinkedIn discussions or status updates. Our advice is to find out what your target audience is interested in, what would be valuable to them and what they are currently discussing. Google Reader and Google Alerts are useful resources for identifying current blog postings and news in topic areas.

Our final tip for professionals is to be proactive on LinkedIn to build your profile and target your prospects. Think of it as continuous virtual networking and make it part of your daily routine.

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