LinkedIn is now the world’s largest business networking site. As a category or group, lawyers are among the top five groups of LinkedIn users worldwide. The demographics of LinkedIn skew older, wealthier and more-educated than any of the other top social media sites. In short, LinkedIn is a good place to “go fishing” to find law firm clients as well as referral sources, associates, paralegals, and law clerks.
According to a 2012 survey by the American Bar Association ("ABA"), 95 per cent of ABA members have a LinkedIn profile. In business-to-business law ("B2B"), 70 per cent of corporate counsel indicate that they use LinkedIn to look for and vet outside counsel. So, a LinkedIn profile is even more important than the profile on your firm’s website because it will come up first on a Google or a LinkedIn search.
In Canada, many lawyers, especially business-to-consumer ("B2C") lawyers (family law, wills & estates, residential real estate, personal injury, and criminal law) have LinkedIn profiles yet fail to reap the benefits.
Here is a five-step marketing plan to build your “book of business” whether you are a B2B or B2C lawyer:
1. Establish your purpose for LinkedIn.
What are you “hiring” LinkedIn to do for you?
- Connect with more paying clients?
- Establish and develop relationships with lawyers who could be referral sources?
- Prepare your law firm for a new practice area in a new industry?
- Gather intelligence about your practice area, your clients, and your competitors?
- Establish your reputation as a leading lawyer and thinker?
Establishing your purpose for being on LinkedIn will drive everything you do on the site: what you include in your LinkedIn profile, who you connect with, what you share, which groups you join, and how you regulate your privacy settings on LinkedIn.
2. Clean up your LinkedIn profile.
Your photo, headline, and summary section are the most visible to users and the most widely read.
In 2017, I am still amazed at the number of lawyers who have outdated photos, fuzzy photos, and inappropriate photos. Three weeks ago, I received a connection request from a lawyer (we had more than 200 people in common) who posted a photo of herself either on the beach or at a spa. It was not a good first impression.
Use your headline to stand out. Write, for example: “A labour lawyer who will keep your firm out of the headlines for the wrong reasons” or “A proactive insolvency lawyer who can help save your company”. Keep the headline to about 10 words.
Your summary section is the most widely read, so make it count. Don’t re-hash your years of experience or where you went to law school; that’s what the job section and the education section are for, respectively. Put about five of your biggest achievements in the summary, focusing on results and benefits to clients. Use the active, not the passive voice. Use first person “I,” not the third person “she” or “he.”
Don’t write large and dense paragraphs; this is not a legal document. Instead, write bullets that readers can easily skim. You can pack a lot of content into a handful of bullet points. The goal here is impact — you want to impress people. Revisit and update your LinkedIn profile at least once a year.
3. Each week, add contacts to your LinkedIn network.
Much of marketing is a numbers game, meaning the more people who know about you and the type of law you practice, the more you can increase the pool of people who will need your services. A larger LinkedIn network is to your advantage, plus LinkedIn is “gamed” to those with 500 connections or more. Those with 10,000 connections receive the designation of LinkedIn influencers—you get extra points with Google, too.
Establish a goal: do you want to add two, three, or 10 contacts a week? It’s up to you.
Two x 52 weeks = 104 new contacts/year
Three x 52 weeks = 156 new contacts/year
Ten x 52 weeks = 520 new contacts/year
Importantly, ask your connections for introductions to people you’d like to know. This is one of the key benefits of LinkedIn. When you get introduced, offer to help the other person first, rather than doing a sales pitch to promote your own practice. That tends to put people off.
LinkedIn has a search feature to help you find people you might want to connect with.
For more information, check out the articles below:
When you find yourself chatting to prospects or referral sources regularly on LinkedIn, move the conversation to direct email, and from there to a coffee or lunch invitation, as appropriate.
4. Share two pieces of content every week.
You can share information in the “Update” section (the daily news feed), which is great for newspaper and other media stories you come across. You can “tag” your prospects (or people you are trying to get close to) by mentioning them in the update.
You can also publish your own content, such as an article or blog you have written in the “Publish a Post” section. This has the added benefit of alerting each of your connections that you have written a post and that email alert goes directly to their LinkedIn mailbox. This is a big bonus, especially if you know your connections don’t visit their LinkedIn page every day. Plus, the post archive remains as part of your profile.
5. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your purpose.
The number of LinkedIn groups has mushroomed in recent years, so there are hundreds of groups for lawyers. It will take a bit of time to find the right groups, but aim for two or three groups that are the best fit with your purpose in the first tip, noted above. Be systematic with your interactions, ask questions, and share useful tips with your connections.