While social media has long been prominent for business-to-business firms in industries such as tech, telcom and media, many professional services firms are just now beginning to embrace this powerful business development channel. One thing that holds many firms back is not knowing on which network to start.

Karl was like this when I first met him. Karl is a smart guy. He strongly believed his consulting firm needed to “be on social media”. But knowing which one(s) and in what order was not his field of expertise.

So, he asked me – and I told him “start with LinkedIn.”

You could – and eventually should – run tests to determine which social media performs best for you; but if you’re providing high value professional services to business people, you’re likely to find that LinkedIn wins.

Here’s why that’s sound advice.

Reason #1 – You’ll reach more new clients

Professional services buyers prefer LinkedIn. This is not just my opinion.

Third-party research has discovered that 59.9% of professional services buyers now consult social media to make their buying decision. 70% of them use LinkedIn. Conversely, only 8% use Twitter and even fewer (26%) use Facebook, Google+, YouTube and all the others combined.

Reason #2 – The professional caliber of LinkedIn members is higher

LinkedIn participants are decision makers, many of them very high level. At the time of this writing, LinkedIn has 430 million professional members consisting of high level executives like CEO’s, President and Vice Presidents. In fact, more than 80% of LinkedIn members influence business decisions at their company and there are more than 3.2 million CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents who actively use LinkedIn (source).

This means that when you are dealing with LinkedIn members you are less likely to be wasting your time.

Reason #3 – They are open to connecting and engaging with you

Time and time again buyers and senior decision makers tell researchers they are willing to connect with providers on LinkedIn if it will help them understand and solve a problem. They appreciate being contacted by providers at the right time with relevant opportunities (source).

These buyers and decision makers like LinkedIn because:

  • It allows them to seek recommendations from trusted peers and verify the expertise of the professionals with whom they do business
  • It offers a wider range of experts than they could find anywhere else
  • It’s efficient, allowing them to get answers quickly

Reason #4 – LinkedIn is business only. No distractions

Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is exclusively focused on business activity. Buyers go there to connect with peers and experts who can help them solve their business problems. They’re not looking at cat videos or trying to get the latest sports score.

This business frame of mind gives professional services providers an opportunity to be found and be helpful early in the decision process – with potential clients who want to connect with you.

Reason #5 – The database is awesome

LinkedIn is about creating interconnected networks of both people and organizations, and its database is one of the most inclusive and accurate in the world.

Search for a particular company on LinkedIn and you might just as easily find the company’s CEO and other execs as you will the company itself.  This gives you a chance to connect with the most relevant people and to understand even more about the company than you might learn from the company’s website.

Reason #6 – LinkedIn is a platform for becoming or expanding thought leadership.

Most professional services providers know that experience and expertise are critical factors in new clients’ buying decisions – and the more visible the better. It’s for this reason that professionals include speaking at conferences and writing for respected trade publications in their business development arsenal.

LinkedIn provides several opportunities for promoting expertise that aren’t available on other social networks. These include the LinkedIn content platform, LinkedIn groups and profile status updates.

Reason #7 – If you want to be found, you’ve got to be there.

Research suggests that at some point in the buying decision, a significant 51.1% and growing portion of your clients will check you out on LinkedIn. In fact, according to Hinge Marketing, “On average, buyers consult social media more commonly today than they use formal references. This is a significant paradigm shift …”

If indecision is keeping you from taking advantage of the power of social media, now is the time to put that aside and go where your clients are going. Karl did – and boy is he happy about it.

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