If you are a professional services executive there's a good chance that you're already on LinkedIn. You may love it, hate it, or not even understand it, but you can’t ignore it.
So what is the appropriate LinkedIn strategy for you and your professional services firm? Let’s start with the basics.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the premier social media site for professionals. With its laser0like focus on the business side of life (as contrasted to the more personal focus of Facebook), it may be something of a misnomer to call it a social media platform. Think of it instead as an online professional networking platform. And as you will see, it is a powerful tool with a wide variety of strategic uses.
LinkedIn Usage in Professional Services Firms
On a global level, LinkedIn is a B2B-oriented network. With the highest concentration of educated professionals of any major social network, it is rife with professional services providers and clients.
In a recent online marketing research study of 500 professional services firms, we found that LinkedIn was by far the most used of all the social platforms. In fact, it was the most popular of all the online tools, eclipsing even email marketing.
Technique Usage Rating
LinkedIn Effectiveness in Professional Services Settings
While many professionals use LinkedIn at some level, how effective is it? We asked each of our 500 professional services firm executives who used LinkedIn to rate its effectiveness in helping to achieve their firm’s objectives.
We also took it a step further and divided our sample into those firms showing the highest growth and profitability (High Growth) and those of average growth and profitability (Average Growth). For both High Growth and Average Growth firms LinkedIn was rated as most effective.
Effectiveness Rating: High Growth vs. Average Firms
Importantly, the High Growth firms found ways to extract more effectiveness from all the social platforms — and LinkedIn in particular. Clearly, a good LinkedIn strategy can make a big difference.
LinkedIn Strategies that Work
So how can LinkedIn help you and your firm grow and succeed? We’ve identified seven goals that are achievable with a well-planned and implemented LinkedIn strategy.
1. Lead Generation and Nurturing
Lead generation is always an important need for professional services firms and it is a reasonable goal for online networking through LinkedIn.
2. Recruiting and Job Search
Since LinkedIn was initially built to support this goal, it is very well suited to the task. If you are looking for talent or a new firm for yourself, there are many opportunities here for you.
3. Brand Building
Think of your firm’s brand as the combination of reputation and visibility. Both components can be addressed with the LinkedIn professional networking platform.
4. Becoming a Visible Expert
Many firms have talented professionals in their ranks that are more or less invisible to the outside world. LinkedIn can be an important tool to help solidify a professional's reputation and raise their profile with selected audiences. Think of it as personal brand building.
5. Content Promotion
Perhaps one of the most significant trends in professional services business development is the rise of content marketing. When you make valuable content available to potential clients or partners, you are in a better position to be found online and considered when a prospect has a need. Think pull marketing or thought leadership.
6. Partnering Opportunities
Need a teaming partner? Another firm to help launch a marketing imitative? How about a new distribution channel? LinkedIn can help you identify and scope out potential partners.
7. Industry Research and Monitoring
Looking to enter a new industry? Get an insider’s view before committing major resources. Wonder how you firm is viewed by others? Monitor the buzz about your firm without leaving your office. With LinkedIn, you even have a way to influence the discussion.
In the next post in this series we’ll go deeper into planning and implementing your LinkedIn strategy for your professional services firm.