Category Archives: LinkedIn for professional services

LinkedIn: Why you should only include your name in the name field

There has been a recent discussion on one of my LinkedIn groups about whether to include a job title in the name field on LinkedIn. You probably know some people who do this. When you see their updates they will appear as ‘Kirsten Hodgson – professional services marketer’ (or something along those lines) rather than just their name. For all of you thinking it’s a good idea or who do this: PLEASE DON’T.

In addition to the fact that LinkedIn doesn’t allow it (and some people have allegedly had their accounts suspended as a result of doing this) it’s also a bit like walking up to someone in a pub and overwhelming them with information about yourself right upfront. LinkedIn is an online network so it’s wise to treat it as you would a face-to-face networking opportunity. There are plenty of other places within your profile  to include information about who you can help and what you can help them with.

I asked LinkedIn what its position is on this and one of the customer service team replied with the following:

“The LinkedIn User Agreement requires use of true names rather than pseudonyms, business names, associations, groups, email addresses, or other characters when registering on our site. We believe that any information other than first and last names in the name fields undermines the professional nature of our site and services.
User Agreement:

Therefore, we do not allow any additional information (other than certifications) to be added to the name fields.”

If you want to highlight who you can help and what you can help them with, then use the professional headline space to do so. If you want to edit it then select:

  • Profile
  • Edit Profile
  • And click on the Edit button that appears next to your name

This will take you to a form. Half way down you will see the Professional Headline section. Use this to convey your key points.

If you haven’t done so already, you may also want to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is compelling and 100% complete. This will ensure that you position yourself in the best possible light to people who do view your profile or who you are recommended to. Try using BOLD or italics for added emphasis.

What’s your view? 

Has your LinkedIn account ever been suspended for something you inadvertently did? We’d love to hear from you so that we can compile a list to ensure others don’t make the same mistake. 


How can social media help you get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline?

The great thing about social media is that you can determine how much, when and where you contribute to it. But if you want to get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline (which a number of those working in professional services say they do) you will need to regularly engage with your target audience and build credibility and trust.

There are so many examples out there of people who post sales pitches to group discussions – often multiple times – and never actually seek to engage with others outside of that. I think they’ve missed a fundamental point: social media is about dialogue and engagement NOT selling per se.

Having said that, LinkedIn is a powerful tool professionals can use to identify and pre-qualify prospects and start a dialogue with them.

Just how can you use LinkedIn to qualify prospects and get them into your sales pipeline?

1. Use your status updates to post your key prospecting questions – for example, a real estate agent may say ‘thinking of selling your home in the Central Auckland area or know someone who is?’ and then link the person to some useful information on this.

The typical scenario is that you click the link, read an interesting piece and then see an offer (often via a pop-up screen) which offers you a free report if you subscribe to the person’s blog or newsletter. Do people really subscribe? Yes, if they see the free report as valuable and if they like what the other person is saying.

2. Start or contribute to group discussions – again ask questions or contribute to discussions on topics you wish to discuss. Position yourself in your area(s) of expertise and then follow up with a free guide or a webinar to draw people in. You can offer these within relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and via your updates and tweets. As a rule of thumb, share others’ information and help others 9/10 times before promoting yourself.

3. Another good way to identify prospects is to set up searches on keywords/phrases in Signal (a LinkedIn product that basically allows you to filter and search across the stream) and on Twitter. You can then respond to people with questions in your area(s) of expertise or who are looking for help.

What other ways have you used social media to help you get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline? 

Is your social media marketing hiding in plain sight?

There are a number of people and companies that I know are active on social media but you’d never guess from looking at their other online and offline materials. This is what I call ‘hiding in plain sight’ and it’s a missed opportunity.

If you are clear about how social media can help you achieve your business and marketing goals and are using it purposefully, then it’s important that other participants you’re interested in engaging with, know you too are active. Sure, there’s a school of thought that says provide good content and people will come but that takes time – and there’s heaps of good content out there that doesn’t appear to get high volumes of traffic.

So, what can you do in the meantime? 

Point people to your social media activity: 

1. Include links on your website to your social media profiles and blog (and vice versa)

2. Include your social media URLs/handles on your marketing collateral such as:

  • business cards
  • letterhead
  • comps slips (if you have them)
  • email sign-off
  • invoices
  • tenders and proposals (where appropriate)
  • brochures and credential statements

3. Include your URL in adverts. I’ve seen so many adverts that say ‘Join/Like us on Facebook’ but that don’t include the URL and it’s sometimes not that obvious. I’ve had trouble finding the official Facebook pages for a few big organisations because they weren’t what I intuitively thought they would be. Not including this information means you’re putting up an additional barrier to those who might be interested in connecting with you.

Engage with your target audience(s) in those places in which they’re active:

Find out where they hang out (by looking at their profile and activity information) and:

1. Go to them rather than expecting them to come to you. Engage them in discussions, share good content they’ve generated or ask them a question.

2. Engage one-on-one with key people in your industry. Look for opportunities to promote them by sharing their content or interview them for your blog so that they promote it to their networks.

3. Comment on other people’s blogs, and where appropriate include a link to your content. Only include a link to your content when you can add something extra to their post and/or the discussion.

Social media isn’t a silver bullet. It does take commitment, time, effort and focus to pay off…but if you are clear about why you are using social media and what you want to achieve, then there’s no reason at all why you should hide in plain sight.

What other ways have you used to engage others? 

Are you seeing returns from your social media engagement? 

When connecting with people you don’t know on LinkedIn – use your common sense

I have no problem with people I don’t know connecting with me on LinkedIn provided they are clear about why they want to do so.

What I absolutely don’t understand is why someone would send the standard LinkedIn message and expect a stranger to accept their invite. It’s actually quite a risky thing to do given that if five users state that they don’t know a person, the person’s account gets suspended. And while I don’t advocate doing that there are people out there advising their networks to do so.

So, what should you do if you want to connect to people you don’t know? 

  • Do your research. Take a look at their profile and think about why you want to connect with the person. And, more importantly, let them know why they should connect with you.
  • Send a personalised invitation to connect letting the person know how you came across them (in a group, in a search, through a contact etc) and why you would like to connect. It may be they share great content and you’d like to learn from them or you want to share ideas. Let the other person know what’s in it for them.
  • If the person you want to connect with is not in one of your groups, it can be tempting to say they are a friend rather than selecting ‘Other’. My advice is don’t! It’s really annoying getting invites from people who say they are your friend when you have never come across them. When you select ‘other’ you will need to input the person’s email address but if it’s someone you really want to connect with, I’d advise taking the time to do a google search to find out their email address – you can probably find a link to their website from their LinkedIn homepage. It shows you are honest and that you’re not just trying to randomly grow your number of connections.
A friend of mine, Natalie Sisson, also blogged on social media mistakes people make last week. This was one of the things on her list – I recommend you read her full list. 
What other advice would you give to people wanting to connect with those they don’t know on LinkedIn? 

What is the best time of day to post content or questions on LinkedIn?

I’ve seen lots of information about the fact that most people access LinkedIn during working hours, while the majority access Facebook during the evenings and weekends. However, I wanted to test this.

About six weeks ago I posted an offer of a ‘free guide to getting the right client feedback in your firm’ on three LinkedIn groups. Over 200 people have requested a copy to-date so I’ve had a look at when their requests came in to see what (if any) patterns emerge.

The vast majority of people (72%) asked for a copy of our guide before 2pm weekdays, and 58% before midday (in their local timezone).

Most people responded on either a Monday or a Thursday (20.7% and 23.2% respectively), followed by a Wednesday (17.2%), a Friday (15.3%) and a Tuesday (12.3%).

While I did receive requests at the weekends: 6.4% on Saturday and 4.9% on Sunday, these were overwhelmingly from those who are self-employed. While it’s rough logic, this seems to suggest that self-employed people use the weekends to catch up on what’s been happening in the groups they belong to.

What does this mean? 

Not a lot in itself. But it does start to give a feel for when the best times to post content are. If you want to increase your chances of your content being found, and people engaging with you, I recommend posting content on a Monday or Thursday before 8.30am. Unless of course, you are targeting self-employed people when you may want to wait until Friday night/Saturday morning to post.

If you’re targeting those in the same timezone then it’s easy. But if you want to engage with those in other countries you will need to think about when they will be online (for example, if you’re in New Zealand and want to engage with those in the USA there is little point posting content or questions on a Monday as they will not have begun their week). Luckily you can use tools, such as Hootsuite, to pre-schedule your posts.

The other thing to remember is that the majority of LinkedIn users don’t access their accounts every day. Questions you ask, comments you post and content you share will only be found by a large number of people if others respond. If a discussion stays towards the top of a group for an extended period of time, more people will join in. There is no silver bullet but you can listen to your target audience and engage with them on topics that matter to them.

What times of the day/week have you found work best to post content? Does this differ geographically? 

What other tips would you give to professionals to maximise their chances of engaging with their target audience(s)? 

4 ways to use LinkedIn you may not know about

LinkedIn has some great functionality but some of the things you can do aren’t that obvious. We’ve summarised four things, that you may not know about, that we think will really help professionals and their firms to extract greater value from LinkedIn.

1. Advanced search function – the advanced search screen enables you to search for people via a range of criteria including:

  • Keywords
  • First name
  • Surname
  • Location
  • Country
  • Postcode – there is then the option to specify the distance from the postcode you would like to search. The ability to search by postcode only works in some countries (although sadly not in New Zealand).
  • Title
  • Company
  • School (read Uni)
  • Industry
  • Groups you belong to
  • Relationship to you – i.e. all LinkedIn users or 1st and 2nd connections
  • Language

There are further search options for those who have a paid LinkedIn account. To access the Advanced Search screen, you need to ensure the search box is set to ‘People’ (alternatively, if you’re looking for work, you can access an advanced search screen for that purpose ifyou select ‘Jobs’ in the search box). Then click on the word ‘Advanced’.

2. Saving searches – it’s possible to save up to 3 advanced searches. You can then select whether (and, if so, how often) to receive email updates. To do so, run the search and then click ‘save’ (in the grey tool bar next to the number of results your search has returned).

3. LinkedIn Today – it’s hard to miss the LinkedIn Today headlines that now appear on your homepage. If you’re like me, the interesting ones always seem to appear when you have no time to read them. The good thing is you can save those that interest you to read later. To do so, you need to click ‘See more headlines’. This will take you to the LinkedIn Today page, where you can select the save button next to an article. When you’re ready to read it click on the ‘saved’ button on the right hand side of the black toolbar on the LinkedIn Today homepage.

4. Signal, or search updates, has been around for a while now. It’s a great way to follow what’s been shared/said on LinkedIn on topics of interest to you. Again, you have the ability to save searches so that you don’t need to repeat them going forwards. To access Signal, either click the ‘search updates’ button (located just below the LinkedIn Today section on your homepage) or select it in the News option on your toolbar. Once you’ve run your search select ‘save this search’ (located at the top of the results).

What other LinkedIn functionality have you discovered that professionals may not be aware of? 

Three common social media mistakes professionals and their firms make

How you use social media is very much a personal decision. So long as you have a plan and are clear about what you’re doing and why, then you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

However, three of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen professionals and their firms make are to do with inactivity.

1. Incomplete personal profiles: If you are on LinkedIn or Twitter for business purposes make sure you have a complete profile. Professionals need to be mindful of the fact that social media profiles rank highly in search engine results. If a potential client types in their name and the person is on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, or has a blog, these will usually appear towards the top of the search results. This means prospective clients or referrers may click on one of your social media profiles rather than your website. If they do, what will they find? An incomplete profile looks bad and you’ve missed the opportunity to impress them.

2. Inactive or infrequently maintained Twitter account: A number of professionals and firms have set up Twitter accounts but have either never tweated or tweat very infrequently, and then simply to broadcast a new blog post or firm development. While I am a Twitter novice I’ve definitely noticed that I’m getting more traction on Twitter now I have direct conversations with others and thank them for valuable content they share. If you follow the right people, Twitter can be a really useful source of great information that you can pass on to your own followers – by ‘retweeting’ useful information produced by others you generate goodwill and your followers benefit. When I see accounts that appear ‘abandoned’ after three or four months worth of tweets I wonder why – and I have to ask the question: is that the person or firm’s attitude towards their clients? Will they start off with gusto only to let things fall by the wayside down the track? While that might be unfair, first impressions count so, if you’re on Twitter, what sort of impression are you making? If you no longer wish to use it, close your account.

3. Blogging but not inviting a response: There are a number of great legal and accounting blogs out there. However, I do think some of the authors of these are missing the opportunity to engage with their audience because they don’t invite a response at the end of their posts. I would recommend anyone with a blog to ask a question at the end to try and initiate discussion – it could simply be – What’s your view? or What other things do you think are important? While you may not get responses on every post, when you do you have a great opportunity to engage with these people and build your professional network.

What other mistakes or missed opportunities have you noticed professionals and their firms making? 

What other tips would you share?