Why LinkedIn is importantEven if you live under a proverbial rock, you have probably still heard about LinkedIn. If you haven’t discovered LinkedIn, it’s a professional network that has around 100 million users or so and has become the largest professional network in the world (according to LinkedIn’s website). Now we all know what LinkedIn is so let’s ask the bigger question: Why is LinkedIn important to you and your accounting firm?

The best proven growth model for accounting firms is professional networking. Those who network best, experience the strongest practice growth. LinkedIn brings this proven business development technique into the social media century. The most successful people within your organization have a  large network of professional contacts. How are they organizing this valuable resource and  maximizing the benefit received from each relationship? Great business developers know that every contact is a potential client. But knowing when an opportunity for service has developed and knowing the best way to approach an opportunity requires information. LinkedIn provides a way to access, organize, and share more  information – bringing your relationship development activities to new heights. Are your professionals ready to take advantage of this opportunity?

Okay, so now that you’re thinking about your professional networking, let’s consider how connecting with these professionals through LinkedIn can create value. From a macro view, creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile will help you maintain your professional image being presented to clients, prospects or future hires. Having a properly setup profile, with a professional photo and savvy positioning of content, will help your profile become easily searchable. That means you’ll get found by the right people and present the right message to them. Additionally, your firm’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts will also benefit. By having and maintaining a LinkedIn page, you can improve your chances of positively affecting your search engine ranking when colleagues or potential clients are searching for you or your accounting practice.

In many cases, your LinkedIn profile is now the first place a prospect will land when searching for you and your firm – even before your website and bio page. That makes it critical that your profile provide the right image and message. It’s like a living CV, endorsement center, thought leadership hub and PR platform all merged into a single location. Clients and prospects will form an opinion regarding your ability to serve them based on your LinkedIn profile. So if you aren’t maximizing and managing your profile, you are most definitely hamstringing your business development efforts.

While getting found and making the right impression is an important benefit of the LinkedIn network, another value is directly connecting with other members and finding opportunities for client service. Connecting with fellow members allows you to network, view connections’ current and former business contacts, and gives you an opportunity to see what others are doing professionally. Additionally, LinkedIn affords you the ability to share expertise with contacts by sharing and reading posts, updates and articles. LinkedIn discussions are a great tool for communication, discussion and value delivery. These posts and updates can turn into indirect or direct opportunities to discuss professional topics or possibly even business opportunities. Savvy LinkedIn users know the right forums, conversations, and groups to find opportunities for client service. Used correctly, it’s just like a live conversation. If you keep your ears open, or in this case your eyes, you’ll find opportunities for new client development all over the place.

If you have not joined LinkedIn, then take that ‘rock’ and roll it into the pond of +100 million users and get LinkedIn. If you are a member, then get off your ‘rock’ and spend some time maximizing your profile and take full advantage of what the network has to offer. Not sure where to start? Check back for my next blog: ‘7 Tips to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile’.

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