Tapping into the social media treasure chest

imageIf the heading looks familiar… it’s because you’ve seen it before! I was recently interviewed by Lexis®Commercial about the use of social media by law firms, and this heading is from Paul Caddy’s article.

Click here to see the full interview – while it focuses on law firms, the themes covered apply to all professional services firms:

1. Social media is fast becoming a hygiene factor in business

Can you imagine telling an important contact that you don’t have email? Can you visualise their reaction? Many will now look at you in the same way if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter account.

2. Social media is just another way to talk

At its heart, business is about relationships, and relationships are built on conversations. Conversations first became virtual via letters, then telephones and faxes, then emails… and now social media.

3. Find out what people are saying about you, your colleagues and your firm

Not being on social media doesn’t mean that you’re not being spoken about. Head over to Google and search. Next, see what bloggers are saying on Google Blog Search. Then go to Twitter and search there. Each result or conversation that you find is an opportunity to influence. If no-one is mentioning your firm, why not?   

4. Find out which platforms your clients and prospects are using

You don’t need to be everywhere. Discover where your contacts want to engage and prioritise those platforms. LinkedIn is your virtual shop front, Twitter the virtual cocktail party, and Facebook the virtual house party. Twitter is a very powerful platform for professionals. As with real-life networking events, you can join any conversation uninvited, as long as you have something relevant and/or amusing to add. You can also boost the ROI of events by integrating social media.

5. Think glass half-full

Some are afraid of social media because it’s public and real-time… which means that social media is searchable: you can find contacts and conversations of interest; reach a larger, yet more targeted, audience; and accelerate the know-like-trust-buy-advocate cycle. By demonstrating your expertise and personality, you can become the host of the virtual parties that matter to you – with opportunities and prospects coming to you, rather than you needing to find and pitch to them.

6. Plan your content, set a strategy

- What you are going to talk about? How will those topics be interesting to your target audience? Effective use of social media means creating content that is provocative… content that provokes a reaction so that readers want to share or engage. It’s better to have a strong opinion and be prepared to defend it rather than sit on the fence.
- Who will be the ‘faces’ of your firm on social media? What training will those individuals need? It may seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s not so long since people needed training on how to use faxes and emails!

Seedcamp – One Survivor’s Story

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What’s that saying… What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Seedcamp is frequently described as “the original and best UK boot camp for start-ups”, and it certainly enforces a strict disciplinary regime.

It started last Wednesday afternoon, when London Seedcamp’s Top 20 start-ups met to practice their pitches. The feedback was insightful, helpful… and brutal. As new boot camp recruits we needed to be taught acceptable social behaviours!

I was told that the start of my presentation was amusing and engaging, but didn’t tie to anything else. Another start-up was told that his content was great but his delivery was so boring that “I stopped listening after the first slide”, while a modest, softly-spoken individual was told to “sit by the door tomorrow, and run up and down the stairs three times before you present – we need to see your blood pumping”. We were all told to rewrite and to practice, practice, practice. There was no doubt how seriously Seedcamp took their boot camp reputation.

Harsh though the feedback was, it worked. Every presentation was much better the next morning. I was thoroughly impressed by all the smart start-ups that were keeping a packed room captivated (that’s Mark in the bottom left hand corner). Having survived the practice run together there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst us – we’d all learnt a lot together in a very short time, and there was a strong shared sense of knowing that we’d all taken a step up.

Pitches over, we got to kick back briefly while the Seedcamp panel (@ahansjee @christianhern @tomall @glyndot chaired by @ceduardo) discussed “From Business Development to M&A”.

Then it was onto what I’d been really looking forward to – mentoring – five 45 minute sessions with groups of entrepreneurs, product experts, VCs, and angel investors. Traditionally boot camp requires hard physical exercise. At Seedcamp, physical exercise is replaced with mental exercise. We had been warned to expect challenging conversations, and the mentors didn’t disappoint.

As I write, the winners haven’t been announced, but I think all 20 of us won.

The process and people are amazing. A week on I’m still digesting the huge amount of fantastic advice we received. Mentors have been incredibly proactive at getting in touch since – making introductions and removing barriers. New meetings and opportunities are going in the diary.

And there are worse things than being referred to as a “top idea” in the Guardian Smile

Seedcamp – I’d thoroughly recommend applying, participating and surviving!