I Might Have To Smack You If You Do This On LinkedIn

Nancy Myrland LinkedIn, Social Media, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I Might Have To Smack You If You Do This On LinkedInI’m not naive. I’ve seen my share of rotten business practices, along with many good ones, some even great. I’ve witnessed people who try to do good, and plenty who seem to specialize in doing the opposite.

Teaching marketing, and social and digital media for the past umpteen years, I’ve seen plenty of people try to find the easiest and quickest shortcuts around doing actual work to grow their business. In rare cases, this type of efficiency can be good. Others, not so good.

I was reminded of one of the not so good practices the other day while catching up on my Google Alerts for LinkedIn. I ran across a post from “Stephen,” a guy who wrote about his experiences buying LinkedIn connections. Yes, I said buying LinkedIn connections…{{sigh}}.

I read the entire post to try to wrap my arms around why anyone would feel the need to do this. I know it happens on Twitter, as well as buying Likes on Facebook Pages. I don’t endorse those, but LinkedIn? C’mon! 

From Michael [any spelling or grammatical mistakes are his]:

“I needed a taste of rapid growth. So I did it. Purchased the package of 1000 LinkedIn connections for ten dollar. And I got what I paid for.”

Michael experienced some kind of euphoria resulting from a sudden outpouring of what he thought to be quality connections:

“A couple hours later, my connections skyrocketed. Yep. As all the preceding buyers on this particular offering said. It was for real. In about two hours, I went from around 100 to 600. Passing by two centuries in a blink. I had done it. I had connections that are new, and I was flying.”

Oh my…..Michael, really?

Suddenly this adrenalin rush of new connections wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

“And they come fast. I am thinking there are either a ton of accounts owned by one person (yea, dishonest), or some type of enthusiast network where people agree to connect for each other. Either way will probably never think of me and these folks do not have any real interest in me. They deceived me as all the connections turned out to be fake. Linkedin will dilute your image if you buy fake connections.”

I could have almost hugged him when he wrote this.

“There are currently over 85 million-business professionals who use LinkedIn as their favored social networking platform. LinkedIn offers business owners the chance to tap into this vast network of professionals, many of which may become sales and leads.”

Preach it Michael!! C’mon now…tell us more!!

“It enables you to specifically target people with particular interests, granting you access to one of the biggest databases of business people. Online business owner, successful entrepreneur and every top executive is using LinkedIn to connect with other like-minded people and to seek out products and businesses, which they want.”

Then Michael broke my heart again.

“If you want LinkedIn connections, the best thing is to go for real LinkedIn Connections from a respectable company who will offer you real connections.”

Michael. Michael. Michael.

My point is this. The point of spending time on LinkedIn is to turn contacts into connections. It takes time.

It takes a few minutes every day, or every other day to:

    • Find your current contacts on LinkedIn.
    • Find new contacts who are in the target audiences you have defined.
    • Share others’ updates.
    • Comment on others’ updates.
    • Send a note of congratulations when you see your contact has a new job.
    • Join a group or two that makes sense for your practice.
    • …and more.

Don’t Buy Contacts on LinkedIn.

If your practice is based on ethically building relationships and reputation, then you need to do what I suggested in this post over 4 years ago:

“There is a process to developing relationships with those with whom we would like to do business, or those we would simply like to call friends. It’s called building trust. The steps to building trust aren’t the same for everyone, or for every two people, but what I do know is that it takes time. We must earn it.”

I said that 4 years ago, and still believe it today.

Would you ever buy LinkedIn contacts? Why or why not?

Lawyers: One Of The Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Clients

Nancy Myrland Business Development/Sales, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal, Uncategorized 3 Comments

One Of The Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your ClientsI was just reading an email from WordPress expert Chris Lema about his recent search for a new job. He was discussing what made him choose one employer over another. Something he said stuck with me because it could help you as you begin working with your clients, and as you continue working with current clients. Chris shared:

“Karim’s [Chris’s new employer] focus, however, wasn’t on title or salary. His question was very similar to the question my current CEO regularly asks – and the reason I stayed at Emphasys for over 8 years.” “How do we keep you here for the long haul?”

What a simple, but powerful question!  How can you use this with your clients? It’s easy. I’ll even suggest the words you can use for your situation.     How about:

“Thank you for allowing me to work with you. I appreciate your trust in me, and I’ll work hard to maintain that trust always. What can I do to keep you as a client for the long haul?”

After you ask that question, don’t feed your clients with too many optional answers. Many of us tend to do that to make it easier on the person we are talking to. Ask the question, let them think, then let them talk. If they struggle a bit to think about what behaviors and results it will take to keep them happy, that’s okay. Be patient.

Make a commitment to say that to all of your current and new clients starting today. Also, program a time in your calendar to ask this question to every client once a year, even if you’ve discussed it already. People change. Their jobs and goals change. Their expectations change. Competition changes.

When you ask, I’d love to hear how it goes. If you can think of additional ways to ask that same question, please share them in the comments below, or let me know at nancy@myrlandmarketing.com.

Oh, yes, Good Luck in your new job, Chris!

Competition Watching? Who Cares!?

Nancy Myrland Blogging, Content Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Knock Down The Competition RoadblockDuring a MarketingProfs PRO webinar with Mack Collier just now, an attendee expressed concern in the chat room about not blogging because it will show competition what she is up to.

She asked:

“What about any concerns about blogging about topics/issues that may give competitors info about your services that you may not want them to know?  My client may not want her competitors to know what she’s up to…”

This is a concern I’ve seen clients express, so I offered my thoughts, which are:

“You can’t spend your valuable time worrying about your competition. They can’t do WHAT you do HOW you do it, so you just have to put your head down and do it.  The downside to staying under the radar is too great to let it hold you back.”

You can’t go through your professional life not showing your clients and potential clients what you know because it might tip off your competition. Trust me, if your competition needs to watch your activity for ideas about how to run their business, they have other issues, so you are way ahead!

If they want to scurry around watching all of their competitors in an effort to steal their ideas, then let them try. There is no way they can do exactly what you do, and do it how you do it.

If you are working from a strategic marketing perspective, where you know who you are writing for, are writing about topics they are curious about, AND you are adding in a heavy dose of interacting and discussing these issues with them, your competition will not be able to duplicate your efforts.

Stop putting up these roadblocks to progress. That’s all they are…roadblocks. Worse yet, you’re the one putting them there, which is unnecessary and unproductive.

  • Get out there.
  • Write about what you do.
  • Write about what your clients do.
  • Write about what concerns your clients.
  • Write about what is going on in their industry that is troubling them.
  • Talk to them.
  • Let them know you are a real person, not just a keyboard.
  • Answer comments and questions.
  • Be consistent.
  • Stop hiding your skills.
  • Help your clients.

If you do at least these 11 things on a regular basis, it won’t even matter if your competition has your office bugged because they are not going to be able to put together the package that is you.

If you don’t do these things, you are not going to be worthy of competition OR clients copying or knowing what you do, and what good is that?

Lawyers, People Don’t Want A Drill. They Want A Hole.

Nancy Myrland Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Lawyers, They Don't Want A Drill. They Want A Hole.I’m over on Inbound.org, watching a digital conversation called Ask Me Anything! with guest Amber Naslund. She is a Marketing, Community and Social Exec, and author of The NOW Revolution.

Something she just said applies to every industry or profession, and bears a bit of discussion here on the Myrland Marketing Minutes blog.

If you are trying to figure out how to position your practice with your clients and potential clients, they don’t care that you’re a lawyer. They care about what you can do for them.

Think about what she said:

“I’m always telling people to think three or four layers outside your brand. If you’re a plastic surgeon, maybe the discussion stems around body image, healthy lifestyles, and increasing self-esteem.

Which seems counter-intuitive perhaps, but you want to speak to the lifestyle concerns of your potential customers and the things they relate to.

As they say, people don’t want a drill, they want a hole. Figure out what underlying denominators your prospects have in common that would lead them to your product or service three or four steps down the line. THAT is the discussion you should be part of.” 

Just as the people in Amber’s comment above aren’t really shopping for a drill, they are shopping for the relief that drill can provide, meaning the hole. Your potential clients aren’t shopping for a lawyer, they are shopping for someone who can provide a specific solution to a problem, or potential problem.

Give this some thought. You’re a lawyer. Got it. But what solutions are you really providing for your clients when they work with you? This doesn’t mean a guarantee of results as you and I know we can’t talk about that, but what end results are they really shopping for when they come looking for you?

What is your client’s hole?

 

 

 

 

Bloggers: Let Your Content and Your Readers Breathe

Nancy Myrland Blogging, Content Marketing, Uncategorized 2 Comments

Bloggers, Let Your Content & Your Readers BreatheEVERYONE IS BECOMING A PUBLISHER

We don’t have much time to grab our readers’ attention these days. They have so much on their plates, and more messages are being thrown their direction than at any time in history. More people are becoming content publishers by the minute, whether that be:

  • Blog posts like this one
  • A post on LinkedIn’s new Publisher platform
  • Updates on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook & Tumblr
  • Comments on blog posts

IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY

It is our responsibility as authors and publishers to make it as easy as possible for our readers to read what we have to offer. Remember, it isn’t their job to “stick to it,” and to spend their valuable time reading our content.

It is our job to be:

  • Readable
  • Digestible
  • Interesting, and
  • Valuable

I know, the interesting part is sometimes challenging, but we should at least give it our best shot because our readers have many other choices of what to read at the very second they have chosen to read our words.

WHAT ABOUT BLOGGING?

Here are a few recommendations for helping your readers when they get to your blog posts.

  • Let your content breathe. Give your words some space. Although we know we are often writing for an intellectual audience, this doesn’t mean they like to look at words all in one big clump. Give their eyes a break. Provide white space by:
    • Using bullet points or numbers when you have a list
    • Keeping your paragraphs short, maybe even shorter than your English teacher taught you way back when
    • Breaking up your content into a few brief paragraphs so your visitors’ eyes get a break.
  • Use headlines when you are switching to a different thought. Think of them as chapters in a book.
    • Consider making them bold, and possibly even a color that matches your logo.
    • Make them larger than the rest of your post’s copy, choosing Headline 2 or Headline 3 from your toolbar.
  • Keep It Short. Whenever possible, keep your blog posts shorter than longer. Even people who love you to pieces don’t always have the time to read your long blog posts. If you find this challenging, then perhaps you could try:
    • Breaking your content into frequent paragraphs
    • Breaking your post into a series, publishing 500(ish) words a day for the next 3 days.
    • Reading your post to see if there are words or thoughts that can be eliminated
  • Use Visuals at least once in every blog post.
    • Make sure you use an image on every blog post. This gets pulled in when you share it on other sites, and gives your readers some additional context or emotion.
    • If you absolutely can’t keep your blog post short, and sometimes that makes sense if we have something really important to say, then at least break up your content with additional graphics. Wrap your text around them.

Again, it’s our job to help keep our readers engaged. I harbor no illusions that people read all of my blog posts to the end. That would be lovely, but not realistic in every case. Some scan. Some read the beginning and the end. Some might just read the headlines and the bullets. All of this is okay because I understand how busy people are, and am thankful they have chosen to spend at least a few minutes here with me.

PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT

Oh, yes, just in case you’re wondering why I didn’t mention one of the most important ways to help your readers stay engaged, here it is:

“Provide something of value to your readers. Give them a reason to want to stay on your page. Don’t just write so you can cross another day and another post off of your to-do list. It will show.”

What are your suggestions for formatting your blog posts, and for keeping your readers engaged?

General Counsel To Lawyers: “Do You Understand AFAs?”

Nancy Myrland Alternative Fee Arrangements, Business Development/Sales, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

General Counsel To Lawyers: Do You Understand AFAs?Earlier this week, I recapped one component of the General Counsel Panel at this year’s LSSO RainDance conference I attended. It focused on a request these General Counsel had, which was for lawyers to “know our business.”

Another theme that surfaced had to do with AFAs, or Alternative Fee Arrangements, often called Value Billing and a few other names depending on how you feel about them, or how they are executed.

They are one of the primary topics of interest these days among law firm leaders, including lawyers, legal marketers and others in executive management, not to mention those clients on the receiving end of these proposed arrangements.

THERE’S SOMETHING MISSING

As this GC panel discussed AFAs, it became obvious there can sometimes be a difference between a lawyer offering such an arrangement and the lawyer’s knowledge about what this truly means.

As you can see below, I Tweeted during the conference about this challenge as the GC was discussing it:

[By the way, these are active Tweets I am embedding, which means you can reply, ReTweet or Follow just by clicking in the Tweet below.]

WE JUST STARED AT EACH OTHER!

What does this mean? One GC on the panel made it clear he had been in at least one situation where an attorney came in to pitch work to him and, at some point in the discussion, the GC was asked if he was interested in, and willing to discuss, alternative fee arrangements or billing. The GC said “yes,” and the lawyer just stared at him, not sure how to proceed.

He said:

“We just stared at each other!”

It is obvious AFAs aren’t going away. Clients aren’t always happy with hourly billing because of the unpredictability, which leaves too much to chance based on who is working on the matter, how long it takes and other variables that are not necessarily anticipated at the beginning. One GC expressed his belief that hourly billing will never go away, and that alternative arrangements will definitely be a part of the ongoing fabric of the attorney-client relationship going forward.

CREATIVE BILLING IS ON THE RISE

We are seeing many creative arrangements that some consider a bit “out there,” but that are being received positively by clients. During one session at LSSO, presenter Susan Saltonstall Duncan, President of RainMaking Oasis, discussed an oft-cited example of a law firm thinking outside the [pricing] box.

Patrick Lamb’s firm, Valorem Law, is actually adding a Value Adjustment Line to their invoices that allows the client to decide whether it wants to adjust the agreed-upon fee initially discussed. To many firms, this seems sheer lunacy, but it has gone beyond that for Pat and his clients.

Pat’s firm discusses this practice openly on their website. You can read more about it here, but the bottom line message is this:

“On each bill, we include our agreed upon fee.  We also provide you a space to make any adjustment you feel is needed. It really is that simple.

Why do we do this?  To demonstrate our unwavering commitment to client service, and to show you that whatever fee arrangement you have chosen, we have an economic incentive to consistently put forth our best effort.

Ask the other law firms you use if they are confident enough to let you adjust their fees each month.”

As you travel down this path of incorporating alternative fee billing into the business of your firm, keep in mind that value-billing doesn’t necessarily mean you make more money. It means you are providing an alternative to the formulaic, standard, unpredictable, often-irritating hourly method of billing that firms have used for decades.

THE END GOAL: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

The end goal is to provide an arrangement that works for both firm and client, but mostly for the client. If you have their budget and their goals in mind, you can end up with a billing arrangement that creates client loyalty. Don’t ever forget that this is about the client, not about you. Yes, you have to be profitable to survive, but you also have to have happy, satisfied clients or you’ll never be profitable.

I also suggest you watch the long-term results of the AFA you are proposing to make sure you are true to the original intent of the “new” arrangement. Don’t do what my friend, ILN’s Director of Global Relationship Management, Lindsay Griffiths, reported hearing about at the Legal Marketing Association’s P3 (Pricing, Process Improvement and Project Management) Conference today in Chicago.

YOU MIGHT DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD

If you plan on raising your rates during the length of the agreement with your client, make sure you honor the amount of the discount you have promised. If a client discovers what goes on behind the scenes, and realizes their “special” arrangement isn’t so special at all, you may do more harm than good.

Talk about not inspiring client loyalty!

As another friend, Legal Lean Sigma Institute Founder and JD, Catherine MacDonagh, Tweeted today at the P3 conference:

IT’S TIME TO GET SERIOUS

It’s time to get serious. Your clients are aware firms are willing to get creative about billing, so don’t be left out. Yes, like Tim Corcoran, or @tcorcoran, was quoted as saying above, you might get it wrong before you get it right.

The most important thing you can do to get it right is to involve your clients in the discussion. Be a bit vulnerable. Ask them about their budgets. Ask them what makes this work for them. Understand what went into handling these matters before. Start learning now before it’s too late.

General Counsel: “Lawyers, Know My Business”

Nancy Myrland Business Development/Sales, Client Service and Retention, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

General Counsel: Lawyers, Know My BusinessEven though the rapid-fire GC Panel at last week’s LSSO Raindance Conference was filled with pages full of suggestions (some of the one-liners were priceless), there were a few recurring themes I can’t get out of my head.

We’ll start with just one of those themes today, but I will tackle more in the coming days.

If you look below, you can see a few Tweets I shared as I listened to our panel.

Not that I haven’t already given it away in my title and the graphic to your right, but watch for the theme.

If you see abbreviations, please remember we are limited to 140 characters on Twitter. It’s not always easy, but it can be done!

This was a very interesting comment because it implied lawyers are coming in and winging it as far as having sufficient knowledge to talk to GC about their specific industry. When the GC who said this suspects this is going on, and hears buzzwords he thinks might have been canned just for the sales presentation, he engages them in a little Q & A to uncover whether the knowledge is real.

It’s actually quite sad this has to be done. For a potential client to suspect you’re making things up just to look good while trying to win business, and to then try to catch you in the act, is not a professional setting or situation you should find yourself in, is it? The good news is that this is avoidable. 

During my in-house legal marketing days, we had the water company as a client. That was the end of bottled water in the firm…period. We respected our client and their work enough to get rid of a product that was at odds with the profitability of their business.

Think through every action with clients and potential clients. Sweat the small stuff. Stay away from competitive products. Clients notice. This is their lifeblood. Would you want your client taking you to lunch at your competitor’s office?

These next two go together.

 


This goes without saying. If you want to win someone’s business, you must demonstrate why you are different than your competition. Give specific examples that demonstrate your leadership in their industry. Tell them what you did that demonstrates your proficiency in handling matters that are important to them. As you can see from the 2nd Tweet, if you don’t have that experience, be upfront and tell them how you will fill that gap. Honesty is always preferred.

Immerse yourself in their industry. As soon as you know you will be talking to them about winning their business, use your internal and/or external business development and competitive intelligence resources to take a deep dive into their industry. You will amaze yourself how much you can learn in a very short period of time, as well as how many resources you will uncover that you can commit to studying on your client’s behalf.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Know your potential client’s business.
  2. Don’t use keywords if you aren’t that familiar with them. They will figure you out.
  3. Sweat the small stuff when it comes to winning business.
  4. Stay away from competitive products and locations, unless it’s for you to study them BEFORE you meet with your client.
  5. Demonstrate your leadership in their line of work.
  6. Be upfront. If you don’t have the experience in an area they need, tell them, then show them how you will fill the gap.
  7. Use your internal and external Business Development and Competitive Intelligence resources to get up to speed as soon as possible, and to uncover every little detail you might need to help your client think through their situation.

What else would you add to this discussion, or to these key takeaways?

Stay tuned for more observations from the conference!

In the mean time, you can view all of the LiveTweets from the #LSSO14 conference here in this summary.

 

Your LinkedIn Newsfeed: You Need To Choose What You Want To See

Nancy Myrland LinkedIn, LinkedIn Training Videos, Uncategorized, Videos Leave a Comment

Your LinkedIn Newsfeed: You Need To Choose What You Want To See IT’S TIME TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LINKEDIN NEWSFEED

Remember when you first discovered that Facebook started deciding what you would see in your Newsfeed? Well, it is now happening on LinkedIn, too. You need to check your settings on a regular basis because the LinkedIn default might not be what you would like to see.

Take a moment and watch this video I made for you so you can see exactly what to do.

Did you know this was happening?

Which setting will you use?

If there are any other topics you would like to see me cover, please let me know in the comments below.

Content Marketing: Can It Be Done In Your Spare Time?

Nancy Myrland Content Marketing, Uncategorized 1 Comment

What Is Content Marketing?

I FIT IT IN WHEN I CAN

There’s a lot of talk these days about Content, Content Marketing and Content Strategy, isn’t there? You’re busy, so it’s easy to ignore the formality of it. You write what you can, when you can, about what you know.

Isn’t it enough that you are squirreling away enough time now and then to produce something thoughtful about a topic that has been on your mind lately, or that is being discussed by the masses?

In a recent post on pipelinetorque called Adding Value To Your Content Strategy, one line stood out among others to me:

“Content can’t be done right if it’s being done in someone’s spare time.”

THINK ABOUT IT. ISN’T THAT TRUE?

This is your practice we are talking about, which is your business that you are out there managing every day. When you work on client projects, you are deliberate about your actions, know your deadlines, work toward solving or avoiding their challenges, and produce what will help your clients. You care about the quality of your work.

Why? Because it matters, that’s why. If you don’t care, and aren’t this deliberate about your work product, then your clients won’t care either. They will identify you with the output you provide, even if that’s sub-standard, and you will be hard-pressed to change their minds once they have lost confidence in you.

Content Marketing is much the same. Marketing and business development are a part of your job, just like paying the heat, AC, gas, electric, making sure your roof does’t leak, your sign looks good, you and your people represent the firm and its brand, on and on.

WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING?

Content Marketing is essentially a timely, organized, focused, methodical brain dump of all of your most important thoughts and processes, produced and distributed in such a way as to inform your target audiences about what you do, help them think through their own situations, and remember you when they have a situation that matches your skills.

If you don’t take the strategy, development, production and distribution of your content seriously, then why should you expect others to take it seriously?

You need to fit it in.

If Content Marketing is of interest to you, you might find these other posts helpful: