“You can create a business, choose a name,” Sir Richard Branson told Inc. magazine, “but unless people know about it, you're not going to sell any products.” …Or, professional services, for that matter.
And it’s not just advertising, promotion, direct mail and website content that helps you sell. In professional services, it’s all about the quality of the people working on the front lines—their areas of expertise, their insights, and their ability to solve client problems. Your employees are your advantage.
Highlight Your Visible Experts℠ on LinkedIn
As your employees’ expertise gains greater visibility in professional circles, becoming what we call Visible Experts℠, your professional services firm benefits tremendously. Here’s how:
- Increases visibility
- Attracts new clients
- Builds and strengthens the brand
- Commands higher fees
You can help employees have greater visibility on your website by creating individual bio pages. Showcasing their thought leadership in blog posts, white papers, etc., will help them get better results in Google searches. Another critical platform for visibility is LinkedIn.
According to our research, when prospective clients turn to social media for a professional services firm and specific expertise, 70% tune in on LinkedIn.
Your challenge is to get found on LinkedIn. You can set up your profile, your company page, and even get involved in several LinkedIn Groups. The next step is to get every professional in the firm—executives, account managers, business development specialists, consultants, and more—using LinkedIn to its best advantage.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Your presence on LinkedIn begins with each employee’s personal profile. When writing or editing the profile, remember to use action words that convey a sense of what you do, how you bring value to clients, and the kinds of people you serve.
Optimize the profile for LinkedIn search by using relevant keywords in all fields, especially in the headline, summary, and interests sections.
With more people using LinkedIn like a digital business card, add LinkedIn Badges for employees on your website. And have employees add their LinkedIn Profile URL to their email signatures.
Below are the key areas of a LinkedIn profile that should be thoroughly vetted:
1) Before You Edit
Turn off the Activity Broadcast (go to Settings/Privacy Controls) while you edit and update. This way, you won’t fill up everyone’s feed with notices of all your edits and adjustments. Remember to turn Activity Broadcast back on when you are finished.
The headline is not simply a job title. It may be the most important 120 characters in the perfect profile. Clearly state your role, the value you bring, and the types of clients you serve.
Have employees use professional photographs. Don’t omit a photo either. People like to see the person they are considering hiring. Headshots are best. If some employees lack good photos, schedule a companywide photo session.
4) Contact Information
Make it easy for prospective clients who find your employees and want to know more to get in touch. Contact information should include an email address, phone number, Twitter handle, and company URL.
5) Profile URL
LinkedIn creates a default URL for each profile, but you can do better by customizing it. Maybe you’ll want to create a companywide format, such as https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathydam, which uses both the employee’s name and company name. You can use up to 30 alphanumeric characters, and you can change your URL.
While it’s logical to invite clients—both past and present—to connect on LinkedIn, there are other categories to consider: prospects, professional peers, and press. Remember, when you reach out to people you have not met, send a personalized invitation that explains why you wish to connect instead of using the LinkedIn template.
Your summary is prime real estate. So, don’t repeat content. Use those 2,000 characters wisely. Flesh out your background or showcase a more personal side of yourself. Show that you are an interesting and approachable individual. Most importantly, talk about the value you provide.
If you’ve worked in the same firm for years, you will want to go beyond listing career experience and jobs. LinkedIn now makes this easier. You can showcase Projects, which is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and range of skills.
9) Additional Information
Don’t overlook any categories that enable you to demonstrate your skills and expertise, and that includes Interests, Publications, and Honors & Awards (include certifications). You should even list the causes you care about and your volunteer work.
10) Skills and Endorsements
LinkedIn lets you list up to 50 skills. If you want prospective clients to find you based on skills, use only the skills that LinkedIn recognizes. As you begin typing, LinkedIn uses a drop-down menu to show you the skills it knows. If you want to move certain skills to the top of your list, just drag and drop. The Skills list becomes even more robust with the addition of Endorsements, which enables others to add their support.
Our research shows that 46.4% of people rely on reputation-based referrals, so encourage your colleagues and clients to recommend you. It’s a great way to build credibility and trust.
As you join other professionals on LinkedIn Groups, you’ll want to make sure you have the Groups section turned on, so they appear on your profile. In addition to using Groups as a forum for starting discussions and commenting, they’re also great places to connect and introduce yourself to someone you want to invite into your Connections.
There is power in numbers. And when you and your employees all build strong LinkedIn profiles, you’ll have the foundation for an effective companywide social selling strategy.
Amplify your LinkedIn strategy and download our free guide, The LinkedIn Guide for Professional Services Executives.