20 tips re Linkedin for accountancy firms – vs individual accountants

I once wrote a Handbook on using Linkedin for a larger company that has many such handbooks recording their processes and systems.

It was a fascinating experience. In researching available Linkedin advice and tips I found very little that was aimed at or relevant to business owners. The same is true for accountancy firms that need to advise and guide their staff on how to use Linkedin – from a ‘corporate’ perspective. And any such generic advice that does exist still needs to be tailored to the practice concerned.

There is plenty of guidance out there for one-man bands, for consultants and for job hunters. A lot of this focuses on how to optimise your Linkedin profile so that you will be found, be attractive and be contacted.  Much of this advice is good in itself but it’s incomplete.

If you are responsible for a firm you need to consider a range of other issues including:

  1. How the firm should be described on Linkedin and on each employee/partner’s profiles?
  2. How the firm should be described on it’s own Company page on Linkedin – and who should be able to edit this?
  3. Whether to encourage a degree of consistency as regards references to the firm and to specific departments on everyone’s profiles?
  4. What guidance to provide re links from personal profiles to the firm’s website, specific pages and blogs thereon and the use of business or personal email addresses on Linkedin profiles?
  5. Whether to provide more extensive guidance as to the creation of professional profiles on Linkedin? (Do less than professional profiles reflect badly on the firm?)
  6. Whether to provide any guidance or training on professional uses and abuses of Linkedin?
  7. Whether to encourage use of Linkedin for lead generation purposes and what training to provide to facilitate this?
  8. Whether to encourage use of Linkedin to help raise awareness of the name of your practice and how best to co-ordinate this?
  9. What guidance to provide re staff who may want to connect with current, past and prospective clients and referers?
  10. How much ‘best practice’ guidance to share to help users to gain maximum benefit for the firm from their use of Linkedin?
  11. Whether to provide guidance or set policies re the provision of ‘recommendations’ for current staff, ex-staff, clients, collaborators and suppliers?
  12. Whether to provide guidance or set policies re the extent to which profiles can appear to be full online CVs?
  13. Whether to co-ordinate the involvement of users in different Linkedin groups and to collate and share lessons learned?
  14. Whether to set up one or more groups for clients of the firm, what settings and templates to choose and who should manage these?
  15. How can clients be best engaged and encouraged to see the benefits of involvement in groups established for their benefit?
  16. Whether to establish groups focused around key service areas, what settings and templates to choose for such groups and who to invite to join these?
  17. Whether to encourage current and past staff and partners to join an alumni group – and who will ‘manage’ this?
  18. Whether to encourage the use of status updates for specific purposes or to allow these to be completely personal and random?
  19. Whether to encourage or discourage the seeking of and publication of recommendations from clients and ex-clients?
  20. Whether to provide guidance as to the time that can or should be spent on Linkedin each working day/week?

I hope that gets you thinking. The list is by no means complete. What else do you think might figure in your firm’s Linkedin handbook?

PS: I have written a 10,000+ word book specifically for accountants who want to use Linkedin – either actively or passively. Click here for full details>>>

By | 2012-05-16T11:21:17+00:00 May 16th, 2012|Accountants, Linkedin, Productivity, Social Media|

About the Author:

Mark is a speaker, mentor, facilitator, author, blogger and debunker. Mark Lee helps professionals who want to STAND OUT and be remembered, referred and recommended using his 7 fundamental principles to create a more powerful professional impact, online and face to face.

3 Comments

  1. Ian 16th May 2012 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Good points Mark!

    The issue you highlight is effectively a combination on one side of corporate branding and staff management policy; and then the juxtaposition that creates between the rights of the individual and each particular social media sites own T&C’s. The latter issue, with regards the legal clash between organisations either requesting or demanding access to a particular social media site versus what the individual sites T&C’s say are where the resultant liability hole exists for providing advice, and hence why I suspect that few have address this area.

    The best examples in recent months have come from employers demanding access to job applicants Facebook pages, resulting in Facebook clarifying that demanding such access is both illegal and against their T&C’s. We have also seen other SM sites being used in various ways, but all of which end up with the organisation gaining direct access to the individuals account, and are hence either illegal on a human rights law and/or breaking that sites specific T&C’s.

    While companies have a right to manage access to social media while employees are at work, what rights do they have to demand access or presentation when the account is held by the individual? Secondly, by creating a set of SM rules as to how your profile is presented, are organisations condoning wider SM use, and hence leaving a door open when staff say that they are “just” surfing for corporate reasons?

    The answer to this an other legal questions of employment and social media, and specifically where they impinge on individual human rights, are still yet to be answered. That will only occur when specific court cases are debated. My personal conclusion is that while hard guidelines can be set on when access is granted, the setting out of presentational and activity guidelines will be at best difficult to enforce while the account is legally owned by the professional individual, if not in many cases later proved illegal.

  2. Mark Lee 16th May 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Cheers Ian.
    Thanks for your comments which add another perspective.

    In practice a lot of the points I have listed would require the involvement of HR to ensure that processes, procedures and requests do not breach employees’ employment rights.

  3. Aaron Hoos 18th May 2012 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    This is a great list, thanks! I’ll be sharing it with my accounting clients. Here’s what I would add to your already-excellent list:

    21. Does each LinkedIn user speaker *for* (or represent) the firm?

    The answer to this question should help direct the level of involvement in groups and LinkedIn Answers. For example, if the employee does speak FOR the firm, it is probably not appropriate to provide accounting advice to a non-client.

    Of course, this has implications in the other direction as well: If the employee doesn’t speak FOR the firm then how much influence does the firm have over what the employee posts as it pertains to their opinions/complaints/etc. of their workplace.

    Lots to think about here. Thanks for the post!

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