Before I get into the tactic required to effectively deliver brand advocacy and social selling 101 for professional services, I’ll begin by giving a brief overview of what both are and why they are important.
Brand advocacy will help to promote positive awareness and recognition and assist with distinguishing you and your organisation from the competition.
The term ‘social selling’ may sound unappealing to many practitioners within professional services and perhaps it is better to think of it more as social networking. The approach is remarkably similar to traditional networking, the only real difference is the medium. It is done online, primarily using social media, rather than face to face. A key benefit is that you will be able to build relationships by connecting and engaging with an audience of industry peers, clients and colleagues.
Like anything new, there are skills and techniques that you can learn and apply easily. Outlined below is an easy-to-follow guide, your very own social selling 101 for professional services which includes lots of top tips.
Social Selling 101 for professional services – LinkedIn
The start of a new year is the perfect time to revisit your LinkedIn profile and your bio if it appears on your company’s website. It is highly likely that it is out of date and could be improved. The next step is to ensure that these bios have links to your key social media channel, at the very least this should be your LinkedIn profile. It always looks good from a branding point of view if your personal LinkedIn profile has a company banner visible on your profile. If you can, edit this banner and list the areas you specialise in.
Your profile should make it obvious what you do, and what potential value you will bring your connections and clients. Your summary should be written in the first person, it is a social networking platform after all, and you certainly do not talk about yourself in the third person at a networking event. It pays to get your profile, and other business-related bios, up to date and relevant.
One of the main aims of LinkedIn is to make connections that are relevant to what you do, and to those people, you want to connect and meet with. When doing this yourself (or advising others), make sure that you always include a message to your connecter, particularly if you have never previously met that person. Make it relevant to them. A suggested approach would be to read one of their posts and say that you found it interesting and state why. You could also say that you noticed that you were in the same industry and thought it would be a good idea to connect.
Top tip: Do not send a message with a cut and pasted sales pitch. That will make your new connection(s) wish they never connected with you. Instead, continue the conversation by asking questions, build to a natural point where it makes sense to arrange a call or meeting, to discuss how you can help them.
Join the conversation
Spend time exploring the hashtags and groups on LinkedIn that are both active and relevant to you, or your key people, to participate in. You can start by joining in some conversations. Agree with what the author of a post has posted in a constructive way, and also offer some different points of view, in a similarly professional and non-confrontational way.
Once you have successfully done this, you will then be able to start some conversations, and you can share the occasional article from you or your organisation.
Top tip: Your comment should be informative and should be valuable to those in the group who read it.
Content is King!
Articles, videos, or short posts when developing a personal brand are effective. This is a key channel to help your target audience understand what you stand for, and who you help. Demonstrating your expertise and hunger will allow you to start gaining traction in your market.
Top tip: Get into the habit of carving out time every day to focus on what content you will post, like and comment on and managing your social media accounts. Be disciplined about this. If you’re running several you may want to look at using a social media scheduling tool, this article gives a good guide on what’s available.
It may be tempting to use LinkedIn to solely promote your own content and that of your organisation. However, this will not produce the best results. Firstly, the LinkedIn platform picks up on continual promotional content and after a while, it starts to appear in fewer feeds. This means fewer people will see it. Secondly, it is likely your LinkedIn contacts will switch off if they only see you talking about you and your organisation. As a rule, employ the 4:1 rule. Aim to post four pieces of non-promotional content and one more promotional, company focused piece.
This leads me to the most important part of your social selling 101 for professional services.
Start now, your efforts will be rewarded!
It may be the case that you are catching up on this and that is OK. The last two years may have highlighted that it is critical to have a better online presence. The advantage is that if you do put a firm plan and strategy in place, you will start to see some benefits in the short to medium term. In the longer term, people will start to gravitate to you as a key source of information in your industry, which is key for anyone in professional services. This really is a huge value, as these activities help drive lead generation, and help you to win more work and generate revenue.
So that’s the social selling 101 for professional services covered off. Make sure you focus on the 5 key points outlined above and you’ll soon start seeing some tangible results.