Networking Relationships Professional Services FirmsLee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge and growth strategist, has an interesting post this morning entitled, ‘The New Lead Generation Process for Professional Services.’

Looking for a new lead generation process to boost the growth and profitability of your firm? There is a whole new model that is revolutionizing the way professional services firms find new clients. To understand how it works, check out this latest infographic from our studio. Trust is still important. But these days it isn’t built on a golf course or through personal referrals.

It’s a more mechanical process per Frederiksen.

You start with content that interests prospects at various stages of the buying process. How do you know what content? That’s where research on clients and keywords and website analytics come in. Next, you promote that useful content through a wide variety of channels. It is also an effective way to nurture your existing leads through newsletters, email, webinars and the like. Finally, you convert them by presenting offers that move prospective buyers up the scale of engagement. Here your AB testing, web analytics and usability testing will help you optimize your lead generation process.

Frederiksen’s company, Hinge,  provides branding and marketing services to professional services firm. Everything I’ve heard from him and read from Hinge Research has felt spot on to date. This new way of lead generation leaves me feeling a little cold. Here’s why. The Internet has not changed anything in the way of business development for professional services firms. It’s always been about networking to build relationships and enhance one’s reputation. Always will be. The Internet has only accelerated networking and the opportunities to build relationships and enhance one’s word of mouth reputation. Rather than promote your content through various channels, use these channels, whether they be a blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or email to engage real people. People who influence clients and prospective clients as well as clients and prospective clients directly. Over the last week I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had exchanges with through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and my blog. Real people. Real influencers. Real strategic business partners. Real prospective clients. And real clients. As I engage these folks, I mentally note and track where the relationship can go. I’m always looking for the opportunity to meet the person through the phone and then in person. Sure, I produce a ton of content through this blog and articles published elsewhere. My content is first from where I learn and secondly establishes me as someone who may know a thing or two about the type of work my company and I do. I don’t look at my content as the first step in lead generation nor as something I push through channels. Though I suppose it may be and I’ll confess my content is shared by me and countless others through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and now, Google+. I’m old school, I believe work is still be generated by establishing trust through the ‘golf courses of the net’ and personal referrals. one relationship at a time. What do I know? But large professional services firms, especially large law firms, who leave these concepts behind to measure business development by leads, analytics and usability testing seem to miss that their best work comes through their people who have strong reputations and strong personal relationships, not through the firm’s brand. Part of me feels like Frederiksen missed an ‘only’ when he said trust these days”…[I]sn’t built on a golf course or through personal referrals.”