This was the headline to a question I was asked recently. I have summarised the question below and expanded on my reply and advice as this may help other accountants too.
How can accountants use LinkedIn for marketing purpose?
I have a company page, I have a profile, I am in some groups but they are largely inactive.
I understand that you need to connect with people; and when they accept my connection request I send them an message just introducing myself and asking them about their business. Something general, nothing really about bookkeeping or accounting. We carry on a small conversation for 2-5 messages and then it just ends.
So how do you leverage these connections? And how do you get noticed on Linkedin by the right people?
This is a great question and you’re doing many of the ‘right’ things already.
I always recommend recognising that Linkedin is simply a starting point to finding and engaging with real prospective clients/influencers offline.
It’s also key to be clear exactly who you are looking to connect with. Eg: owners of businesses of a certain size and in a certain industry within 10 miles of your location. Yes, other people ‘might’ be prospects too but it’s best to start with a clear target.
I note you referenced your company page. This ‘might’ have some value if you don’t have a website but otherwise there is only one good reason for smaller practices to have a company page on LinkedIn. That is so that you can upload your logo and thus have it appear on your personal profile.
Other than that it’s much better to encourage people to go to your website if you have one. And yes, sadly, groups have been very quiet since Microsoft bought Linkedin. This may well change in 2021, but until it does groups are simply a way of showing your interests and finding others with shared interests (which might be related to a common sector, expertise, locality or other topic).
Yes, your profile then needs to STAND OUT and encourage them to connect with you. I would be happy to send you my Linkedin profile tips if you want to check that yours is as good as it could be. You can get the tips here >>>>
Once you’re confident that your profile works for you, rather than against you, I suggest using the search facility on Linkedin to seek out specific prospects ands introducers yourself. Don’t wait for them to look for someone like you. And then, as always it’s about building relationships with them. In time you can filter out those that are wedded to their current accountant from those who are less impressed and may be interested in moving to someone better able to provide valuable advice and who shows they care more than the incumbent seems to care about the client in question.
In many ways, Linkedin allows you to short-cut the old face to face networking process. It allows you to be proactive to look for, find, connect and then engage with exactly the people you want to reach. That’s so much better than turning up at an event and simply hoping that exactly the right people will be there.
Only a small proportion of the people you connect with on Linkedin, as anywhere, will be currently looking for a new accountant. So you need to play a long-game. Keep in touch, offer or ask to meet up and then keep in touch better than other accountants. And help them appreciate, over time, that you’d be better for them than their current accountant.
You can only do this though when you know sufficient about what’s important to them. One way to do this is to check out their activity on Linkedin, to add your comments and insights to posts they have written or where they have commented on others’ posts.
At the end of your question you ask how can you leverage your connections? And how do you get noticed on Linkedin by the right people?
Beyond what I have already suggested you would also need to create ‘good’ posts on a consistent basis. Posts that will be of interest to your target audience. There is a great deal of hype around this subject and I see a huge number of accountants wasting their time chasing ‘views’ for their posts. I have more experience and insights on this than many of the self acclaimed experts who have jumped on the Linkedin bandwagon in recent years. Maybe I’ll share some of these tips in future blog post.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Linkedin is that any old profile, lots of connections and engagement will enable accountants to secure more of the clients they want. That all may help, but hope is not a strategy. There is no magic solution. You have to take action and apply the same prospecting techniques that work offline. Linkedin can be a shortcut. It’s not a standalone solution.