Jul 21 '15
It can sometimes be hard to remember that the elephants have been being creative over here at EC Towers for more than seven years. When we first set out the social media battle was getting people to go onto LinkedIn at all. Most mistrusted it and considered it a huge waste of time. Whilst some have been proud to stay in that corner the vast majority have recognised that social media is here to stay… and they’d better join in, rather than missing out on the potential opportunities. Now, several years on, the fee-earners and marketing people we’re talking to in law firms and chambers all have LinkedIn profiles. What they need to know is what to do with them to get a slice of the ‘instruction pie’ that is now so evidently there.
Remember where you came from
The first thing we explain to everyone is that social media isn’t really a new thing to do… it’s just a new way of doing it. For centuries people have built relationships and shared knowhow in a bid to get instruction. In the same way that some people like a face-to-face meeting and others like a phone call, so do some like to engage on social media. In short, it isn’t something to be afraid of because we’ve been doing it for as long as there has been a legal profession. When you think of it in those terms it becomes easier to work out how you might build engagement and generate instruction.
Be interested before you try to be interesting
If you went along to a breakfast networking event, walked through the door, threw your business cards at people and shouted that you were an expert in [insert whatever area of law you do]… people would be justified in thinking you were a bit of a p**t. So, why then do so many people use LinkedIn as a platform for doing that? For sharing statements about how great they are and the wonderful things they’ve done, without showing any interest in other people. The best way to get people interested in what you have to say is to start by showing an interest in them personally. Some suggestions:
- Respond to the posts your connections make with comments and suggestions for extra reading… by that we don’t mean suggesting their thinking is flawed and recommending reading to solve the problem. We mean thanking them for an interesting point and sharing an article that supports some of the points they’ve raised, or that continues the conversation in some way.
- Listen to the conversation and use that to influence what you have to say. Groups are a wonderful way of keeping your ear to the ground, allowing you to see the things people are talking (and worrying about), thereby giving you ideas for your own marketing content.
- Keep up to speed with the movers. LinkedIn Jobs is a fantastic place to find out information about target companies. If they’re recruiting in certain areas (or replacing whole teams) then perhaps there’s something going on you can help with? It’s a great reason to get in touch and send a personal email or InMail.
- The same goes for following company pages themselves. If you have a KAM list or target list then make sure you’re following them on LinkedIn and responding to the things they’re saying. That doesn’t mean stalking and posting on everything but you could take the opportunity to send a personal message to people that have been promoted or moved… or when someone has written a good article or achieved something important.
Keep on moving forward
What you’ll notice about all of the above is that they are suggestions for things you can do prior to making personal contact. Successful engagement on LinkedIn isn’t about keeping the conversation online but moving things as quickly and smoothly to a face-to-face (or at least email to email) level. LinkedIn provides an open platform for finding out about targets and listening to the things they have to say. If you listen hard enough you’ll pick up things that can be used as a reason for making that first direct approach.
Remember you’re not selling the law
It’s a small point but an important one. Remember. The only person that can sell the law is you. LinkedIn isn’t going to do it alone. Yes, you can share lots of great information and demonstrate expertise. Yes, you can give people lots of ways to get in touch, but all social media can do is move things along the business development funnel. In short, your time on LinkedIn shouldn’t be focussed on selling the law but on selling the first call or email. Once you’ve moved things onto a personal level then you can swing in and move things forward again to close a sale.
Have a plan
Finally, as with most business development (whether on or offline) you have to have a plan of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it. That means taking a small amount of time to think about things and to write them down. We always recommend the following steps:
- Who are you talking to – Who is your target audience? Do you have a list of people?
- What do you know about them – Have you listened?
- Where are they – How are you going to find them and where is the best place to interact?
- What are they interested in hearing – Note we didn’t say what do you want to say.
- Why do they need to hear it – What is the bad thing that will happen if they don’t listen to you? What is the risk?
- What have you got of real value to them – What things can you provide that can prove you can reduce this risk?
- What do you want them to do – What is the goal? Is it getting them to attend an event or download an article?
- What are you going to do about it – What stages are there in the process to take things from silence to that first face-to-face meeting?
- What timescale is this over – Set some dates and put them in the diary.
- What does success look like – How will you know this has worked?
For information about social media or any area of professional services marketing please contact Helen Hammond.