CPA Magazine Blogs
- Category: Columnnist Blog
- Created on Thursday, 22 December 2011 17:30
- Written by Hugh Duffy
Among social media channels, LinkedIn is still considered the most helpful to building business because it retains a more professional demeanor than Facebook and Twitter, while offering a number of built-in tools to connect with like-minded colleagues.
Because of their size and local proximity, accountants working in small firms and companies will find many reasons to maintain an active LinkedIn account. With the intent to retain clients, prospect for new clients and increase referral sources, LinkedIn offers a non-threatening environment focusing on expertise and strong networks.
Just the same as with any activity, the more you reap, the more you sow. If you are satisfied with making a few connections, then you’ll most likely find LinkedIn to be more entertainment than a viable business assistant. Accountants who progressively build their online networks add to their credibility – and position themselves as qualified individuals who are helpful, knowledgeable and savvy.
Here are several key steps to achieve success through LinkedIn:
1. Increase your visibility. By adding connections, you increase the likelihood that prospects or referral sources will see your profile first when they’re searching for someone in accounting services. People would much rather work with people who their friends know and trust.
2. Improve your connectability. Most new users only put their current firm or company in their profile. By doing so, they severely limit the ability to exponentially increase their connections. You should fill out your profile like it’s an executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations and activities. You can also include a link to your profile as part of your Outlook or e-mail signature.
4. Ask for advice and answer questions. LinkedIn Answers (under the “More” tab) allows you to broadcast your business-related questions to your network and the greater LinkedIn universe, while answering a question someone else has asked may give you “expert” status.
5. Join a LinkedIn Group. There are literally thousands of groups on LinkedIn with all kinds of professional and personal interests. When you join a group, you receive e-mails whenever someone posts any information to the group’s page. You can opt-in on this with once-daily, batch e-mails or have them sent every time someone posts. Groups are great ways to participate in active conversations while also increasing your online presence.
6. Use “advanced search.” Prospect for new business by searching industries, professions and businesses. Suppose you have a tax niche working with restaurants and food service. Search “restaurants” in your local area and the results will include a variety of connections, in and out of your network. Use quotation marks and “and” in your search to receive more specific results. Then, search your shared connections to those people and begin making connections.
7. Integrate Twitter With LinkedIn. If you are a Twitter user, then you can integrate your Twitter account with LinkedIn, so that when you post to Twitter, you can automatically send the same post to LinkedIn so it becomes your most current “status.”
Many accountants want to know if upgrading a LinkedIn account is worth the money. For example, a basic “Business” account is $24.95/month, a “Business Plus” account is $49.95/month and the high-end “Executive” account $99.95/month. There are discounts if you pay annually. Each level builds on benefits and offers distinctive advantages. However, the investment depends on how deeply the firm and its accountants want to use LinkedIn as a networking and business-building tool compared to other ways to connect.
Remember that LinkedIn is only one tool in an entire portfolio of methods to network with others. Firms and companies should review all of the ways to reach potential clients and referral sources before deciding to spend more money.