In a recent article, business development coach Rich Bracken uses the phrase "harvest talking points" to describe an effective BD activity by lawyers on LinkedIn.
Rich's point: on LinkedIn, you should monitor company pages, people in the news, activities by connections, and other such information sources in order to harvest tidbits and insights that can become talking points with clients, prospective clients, connections, and others who matter to the growth of your business.
I love the phrase! It's a simple metaphor that brilliantly captures LinkedIn as an intelligence source to help drive conversations ... and, therefore, relationships. (Perfect in a business driven so significantly by - wait for it - relationships.)
I also think that the idea of harvesting intelligence on LinkedIn applies to more than just finding new conversation starters (although, of course, that is a key aspect!).
What else should you be harvesting on LinkedIn?
Intelligence that can help you to:
1. Enhance relationships with a personal touch
Significant job anniversaries, career changes and promotions, personal achievements and industry awards: LinkedIn gives you enough information to make every single key client and prospect feel like your most important relationship. Better yet, LinkedIn Navigator automates these updates so you don’t have to constantly check your feeds for latest, relevant information.
Like and comment on posts written by people you want to know better or reconnect with, or even to establish an initial connection. Then consider one of these personal touches:
Send handwritten congratulations when an important contact changes jobs
Mail “Congratulations on this achievement” cards to your top ten clients
Make phone calls, instead of writing emails, to weigh in on questions and other requests for assistance
2. Understand your competition
As Rich points out, keeping an eye on what the competition is doing is a smart way to stay ahead of practice and industry trends. Use that information to inform your own strategies, to identify new opportunities, to support expanding into new practice areas or confirm your observations about market activity.
Note in particular the relationships your competition has with your clients and your prospects – who’s congratulating whom and commenting on their posts, for example – to better understand the potential impact of those connections on your own efforts to land new business.
3. Prepare for better meetings
Rich is spot on when he suggests you monitor feeds from your clients on an ongoing basis. As I've written previously, LinkedIn Navigator makes it especially easy to stay on top of such information. Client posts reveal concerns and interests, trends and setbacks, what they’re reading and what they’re writing.
More to the point, their posts – especially when coupled with updates from potential clients and industry leaders – provide you with a list of “hot topics” that are of primary concern to everyone in your market segment. Use this information to frame talking points, craft agendas, make your meetings more relevant and on-topic.
Start harvesting actionable intelligence from the information your connections share on LinkedIn to focus your BD efforts, and watch your successes grow!
(What high-value insights do you harvest on LinkedIn? Drop me a note and I'll include it in a future update.)
[Samantha McKenna is Head of Sales, Enterprise, NYC at LinkedIn. Follow her for her latest writings on law firm BD on JD Supra. Connect with Sam on LinkedIn to see how Navigator can transform your firm's growth efforts.]