Recently I have been asked to talk to a few firms about their social media. The trouble is that it soon becomes clear the problem isn’t social media! OK, I could deliver them an ‘advanced LinkedIn course’ and they would feel good. We could develop a social media strategy and that might appear to be the answer, but not really….

Social Media in a ball being held. Is it social media or relationship management?

Changing behaviours, not training

The right answer can only come when you ask the right questions. Asking the wrong questions normally give wrong (and possibly) expensive answers. Training teaches people what to do, but it’s no use (in isolation) when what you actually need to do is change behaviour.

Many small professional firms want to change behaviours; key to that is changing the conversations you have with your fellow partners and your team.

Miracle cures

Many law firms and transactionally focused accountancy firms  (e.g. firms with a large advisory element to their revenue streams) are struggling with lead generation. That’s easy to spot, as is the the latest sticking plaster / amazing cure  – “social media”.

Social media is not the answer to lead generation, it is part of the answer.

Without a social media presence you will miss out on new leads; but that’s not the most important factor. If  you don’t have relationship management processes and systems in place, any investment in social media will produce inconsistent results – at best.

Relationship management

Let’s be clear for a moment; I mean a relationship management process, that doesn’t mean ‘implement a CRM system‘ (this seems to be another current miracle cure, like social media).

CRM systems and social media are just tools. Tools, like training, are not effective if the right conversations are not taking place.

What does that mean? If relationships across your firm are not being managed in a structured way, i.e.

  • contacts categorised by importance level
  • each contact has a relationship owner who is responsible for the ‘health’ of the relationship
  • each important relationship has an accompanying relationship plan
  • you (& other partners) are talking to the team about the progress of their relationship plans on a monthly basis
  • details of conversations with important contacts are captured and shared across the firm – or easily accessible by members of the firm

… then business is being left on the table – regardless of your investment in things like social media training, blogging or a shiny CRM system.

The reason why so many firms, in my opinion, are not getting the impact they desired in using social media was this investment is not underpinned by structured relationship management.

What do you think?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access