It’s likely that your firm, like ours, has team members dedicated to managing social media and they’re always politely bugging you to get involved with their efforts. We have previously shared the benefits of social media for professional services and how to use it to build business relationships. While the term “social media” may still evoke images of silly memes or pictures of food, the fact is that social media, particularly LinkedIn, is essentially a form of online business development. B2B social media managers can do a lot on their own, but the best connections are made when you – the one doing the work and talking to the client – get involved and take those efforts the extra mile. So how can you do that? Well, I’m betting you have a LinkedIn profile already. Maybe you created it a few years ago and never touched it again, occasionally scrolling through your feed but never really participating. Below is why we encourage our team to get involved with LinkedIn and the simple steps we suggest to make the most of the platform.
The number one way we win work is through relationships, and LinkedIn is the best platform for building and maintaining professional connections. It’s truly a digital business development tool and can supplement your offline efforts. As the world’s largest professional network with nearly 500 million users worldwide, it’s safe to say your clients are on LinkedIn. And with 44% of LinkedIn users earning more than $75,000 per year, implying these are mid-to-senior level associates, you have the chance to connect with decision-makers at another company.
At Foresite Group, we’ve seen the power of LinkedIn to turn one well-placed comment into a big opportunity. One of our associates regularly carves out time to follow and participate in relevant industry discussions on the platform. He knows the business we want to develop and connects with those companies. He once saw a discussion in the comments section of an article on a topic that was relevant to one of our service areas. He offered a simple suggestion based on his expertise, which led to a response by a new connection, whom our associate then asked for an offline meeting. That meeting turned into an opportunity with another organization in a new market for us. And it all started with one person paying attention to the conversation and being willing to thoughtfully participate. So, it may feel uncomfortable at first to put yourself out there, but the rewards are only possible if you do.
LinkedIn in 3 Steps
1. Create a great first impression. Before you do anything else, make sure your profile is updated and active. Ask your marketing department for an updated headshot if needed. Next, your professional headline should always be your updated office title that matches your business card and email signature. It may be that you haven’t updated your profile since that big promotion! The summary section is your elevator pitch about your skills and the value you bring. Keep it short but specific, focusing on your strengths. Don’t be shy about filling out the skills section – these are searchable on LinkedIn and a great way for clients to find you. Finally, keep your activities updated. Your involvement with the community food bank could be the common link between you and a potential client.
2. Connect with quality people. Now that your profile is spiffed up, it’s time to connect with others. Think through clients and industry leaders you either already know or want to work with. Ask them to connect and consider adding a personal message such as, “Hi John. I saw that great project you just finished up and wanted to say congratulations. Let me know if we can be of service on future opportunities.” Follow their company pages as well so that you don’t miss the firm-wide news, as this isn’t always shared by your individual contacts. Also, turn every business card you receive into a connection on LinkedIn. You’ve already made the face-to-face connection. Now see how far that may go when you see their network and discover mutual connections or potential opportunities. Remember that LinkedIn is designed to supplement your real-world connections. It’s about quality connections, not just collecting random followers that you’d probably never work with offline.
3. Engage and build relationships. Now that you’ve made quality connections, it’s time to engage in conversation and build on those offline relationships. Scan your newsfeed a couple of times a week (daily is best) to see what your connections are talking about. Then post, share or comment. Post something you’re working on, a picture from the conference you’re at, or an article you found interesting. If it applies to your firm or another company, tag them. When appropriate, share someone else’s status update, remembering to tag the original poster. For example, your client finishes up a big project that you played a role in and posts the final pictures on LinkedIn. You share their post by tagging them saying, “Great job @FirmName! We’re proud to have worked on this and look forward to the next opportunity together.” Be sure to also share your own firm’s status updates to help increase their reach. Finally, make thoughtful comments on others’ posts to congratulate, acknowledge, ask for more info, offer an opinion, etc. It’s an easy, 10-second way to get on their radar and you never know where it will lead.
To see the value of personally participating in LinkedIn, think about information you’re more likely to act on. If a company shares an update, you probably see it and keep scrolling. When someone you know at that company shares the same news, you’re more likely to reach out because it’s a more direct connection. That’s how it is when your clients see your company’s updates versus your individual updates. Your participation brings an extra layer of value to your firm because your clients know and trust you. So spend a few minutes polishing your profile, making the right connections, and engaging your clients online. The offline benefits will soon follow.
About Rebecca Duffield
Rebecca Duffield is Foresite Group's Marketing and Recruiting Coordinator. She has a Bachelor's degree in Communication - Public Relations from the University of South Alabama. In addition to overseeing the firm's website, blog and social media, she also coordinates Foresite Group's recruiting efforts. With experience in both non-profit and corporate markets, Rebecca has a special interest in helping people make meaningful connections through effective communication.