The conversation went something like this:
Marketer: "And then use this 'Share' button in your LinkedIn account to share with your network the links to articles and blog posts you've written."
Fee-earner/professional, with look of mild horror on face: "But, I can't do that. That's spamming."
Marketer: "It's not spamming. This is your network to communicate with. Either you asked them to dance and they accepted, or they asked you to dance and you accepted. It's the safest and most important network you have."
And then the light switches on in the client's eyes: LinkedIn—like any social media platform—is there to help him reach out to clients and potential clients.
An Untapped, Free Resource
In this third of three articles focusing on how the professions—lawyers, consultants, accountants, etc.—can effectively market using new/digital media, I focus on LinkedIn.
So much has and will be written about LinkedIn. And why not? It remains a huge, untapped resource for professionals to achieve marketing success. And LinkedIn's network continues to grow. From 2011 to 2012, for example, LinkedIn's membership grew 45% worldwide, and 39% of members in 2012 had the title Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer, or Vice-President. (LinkedIn Ad Platform, via Amodiovalerio Verde.)
Getting value out of LinkedIn starts with the right attitude. In my book, there are three types of people on LinkedIn:
- Don't Trust It, Don't Care. These people are ones who typically have one Connection or two, duplicate LinkedIn profiles, and they have never gotten a handle on what it's about.
- I Love Everyone! These are people who indiscriminately link with everyone they know or don't know. They typically don't understand that LinkedIn is a network that should be—like any good network—built on trust. Or that it is also aspirational: If the plumber won't help you develop business, leave him out of your network.
- I Play the Game With Others Who Play the Game. These are the people to emulate. They care about how they look on LinkedIn, taking time to develop their profile. They connect regularly with new contacts, and they visit the site regularly. It's part of their daily good-habit routine.
So how do you become a part of the third group? Here are some thoughts and guidelines.
1. Think of LinkedIn as the new CRM System
Professional firms have invested years of effort and chunks of their budgets to develop sophisticated CRM systems. And these systems are important for tracking activity with clients, developing target market lists, and managing client communications and interactions. But the data is only as good as what is input into the system. Every system contains duplicates and old contact information. LinkedIn, however, updates itself and notifies connections when people have changed jobs. In these ways, at least, it is superior to many expensive CRM tools.
2. Integrate it into your routine
Make LinkedIn a part of your daily routine, the same way you check your email first thing in the morning.
Follow interesting people so that articles relevant to your work life show up in your email box each day. Review your profile every few days—it's no different from looking in the mirror every morning. Just got back from a conference or cocktail reception? Pull out the business cards you just pocketed, link with those new contacts (be sure to customize your LinkedIn request with a special note!), and then throw out the cards.
Keep your LinkedIn profile top of mind: It's a good practice to regularly update your profile so you stay relevant within your target markets.
3. Deepen your network
Now that your own LinkedIn profile is complete, reach beyond it. First of all, be sure to pay for a premium membership so you can have a more detailed view of who visits your profile. Also, be sure to join LinkedIn Groups that relate to your target niches. Can't find a particular one you want? Start your own Group and become a leader in your niche. Even following specific people in your niche will help out. The interesting articles that will arrive in your daily LinkedIn email can help you develop ideas for new marketing outreach activity. Your network will be as active as you are.
4. Share, share, and share again
This is not the time to be shy. So you've been interviewed in an online article? Your article was just published? Your latest blog entry was just posted? Just like book authors have to start publicizing their work once the writing is finished, you need to share your work.
Post a link to your blog post on your LinkedIn homepage. Share the same link in relevant Groups that you've joined, and your article will show up in the email boxes of your network contacts and on their LinkedIn home pages.
Be active, and you'll find that your network will be active in return—visits to your profile will increase when people "Like" your posts.
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Build a routine, deepen your network, and share. These practices have worked for decades in helping professionals earn new clients and matters. Now this same process can be done online, on LinkedIn. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity.
Articles in this series: