It’s hard to pinpoint the tipping point between awareness and trust. My sense, though, is that 1:1 connections accelerate the process. As I’ve blogged in the past, lawyers were the original kings (and queens) of networking and referrals — what we today call word-of-mouth marketing. It’s in your professional DNA — cultivating connections through clubs, civic organizations, alumni groups, local/state/national bar associations. So moving those practices and skills into online communities and networking sites is not much of a stretch.
A short meditation by Chris Fritsch on the power of referrals (“the gift that keeps on giving”) reminded me of a recent tweet by Texas appellate lawyer D. Todd Smith, who noted that he had just referred a case to a Twitter connection in another state who referred one to him earlier this year.
As I’ve discussed before, Facebook is problematic for professional firms on several fronts, and a Wall Street Journal article this week noted that small business-to-business marketers are finding the path to Facebook fandom slower and more challenging than it is for their consumer-oriented counterparts.
However, that same WSJ article noted that many professionals prefer LinkedIn to Facebook, because the former was purpose-built for professional networking. To me it’s a no-brainer. It’s a one-stop search shop, identifying potential connections based on schools, jobs and organizations listed in you online profile. Once connected, you can cultivate those connections through automated updates and group conversations.
If you’re having troubled figuring out how to make LinkedIn networking pay dividends for you, Neal Schaffer of Windmills Marketing takes on “5 Common LinkedIn Fallacies and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them” on Social Media Today.