By Meranda Vieyra
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking and social selling tools available for professionals — including lawyers.The company advertises that more than 450 million people are registered users; this number literally grows by the second (two new users per second to be exact). Since its founding in 2002, LinkedIn has continued to grow and add depth to its user experience through new features. In an age where the trend of using social media sites can seemingly change in the blink of an eye, LinkedIn is still thriving, and it’s thriving because it works.
LinkedIn is essentially a 24/7 networking event, and the possibilities for generating business through this platform are out there for all legal practice areas. So the question for lawyers is not why to use LinkedIn but how. Successful users of the site update their profile properly and engage with their network through posting, making new connections and requesting group membership. The most successful users go a step further and convert their online relationships to offline client leads and referral sources.
Here are five smart steps that lawyers can take today to maximize their presence on LinkedIn:
Draft the summary section of your LinkedIn profile in a first-person conversational tone.
Although the summary section of your LinkedIn profile page would seem to be a good place to cut and paste your law firm website biography, it actually isn’t. When you are drafting your summary statement, go easy on the “I,” focus less on you and more on your potential client or referral source. Also, consider answering the question “What do you do for your clients?” rather than “What do you do for a living?” There are plenty of places on your page to provide information about your education, honors, awards and credentials. The summary area is important real estate on your LinkedIn profile to focus on the needs of your potential client, professional connection or business referral source.
Step Two: Your Posts
Your LinkedIn posts should be frequent, deliberately chosen and always confirm your professional reputation.
After you have updated your LinkedIn profile, you should focus on a strategy to guide the content you will post to your network. LinkedIn will be most effective if you post once per weekday. That suggested frequency of posting can be daunting but is made easier when you realize that postings are a blend of your original content and sharing other people’s content found in your news feed. Through an online news alert, you can watch industry headlines related to your practice area for articles to read and share. You can also plan ahead and post a few lines about key case wins in your practice area or draft case studies showcasing your skill and expertise. The frequency and consistency of your posts have the power to make you the “go-to” lawyer in your practice area.
Step Three: Your Connections
Strive for quality and quantity in your LinkedIn connections.
What’s the point of having a great summary statement or pushing out valuable posts if no one is there to read them? At a minimum, your contacts on LinkedIn should mirror your client and referral email database as much as possible. Consider that you probably only interact with these key people in your career a few times a year. LinkedIn allows you to be in front of them with more frequency through regular posting — for free. Be in the habit of following up after business meetings and networking events by sending out LinkedIn connection requests to the new people you meet. Also, make sure to add your friends, vendors and colleagues to your connections. Being proactive about developing new connections on LinkedIn is a key way to build business relationships.
Step Four: Your Groups
Join and participate in LinkedIn groups that compliment your practice areas.
A LinkedIn presence is not the magic wand of rainmaking, but it is an area where a little effort can go a long way. This is especially true with regards to lawyers joining groups on LinkedIn. It is ideal to seek out both legal and non-legal groups that compliment your practice areas. There are tons of non-legal groups with high membership of small business owners, groups dedicated to networking for local businesses, groups for female entrepreneurs and groups associated with minority professionals, etc. There are also groups specifically for lawyers in certain practice areas, alumni organizations and bar associations. The key is to join groups and then be active in them. LinkedIn can provide you with an email digest of the topics being discussed in your groups. This is a great feature to use for quickly monitoring topics to see if there is an opportunity to like and share your ideas with the members. Be sure to join the Denver Bar Association’s LinkedIn group and start a conversation while you are at it.
Step Five: Your Leads
Lawyers on LinkedIn have a great opportunity to convert their online connections into offline business relationships.
If you are looking for ROI on your marketing efforts, LinkedIn blows other social media platforms out of the water. But social networking sites, like LinkedIn, only work if you are social. This platform is especially great for introverted people who have trouble initiating face-to-face conversations. The site’s messaging feature is an easy way to casually connect further with your LinkedIn network. Consider sending messages to ask potential clients to coffee or to provide them with relevant news. If you see someone has viewed your profile, take the opportunity to chat with them to ask if there is anything that you can help them with. Also, make sure to look for signals of business change or growth in your network to see where you can comment to showcase your insight or expertise. The potential for business leads on LinkedIn is as good or as bad as you choose to make it.
Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC, which was founded to bring her years of experience in high-level legal marketing to solo practitioners and small law firms. Her impactful marketing services focus on recognition, promotion and visibility for Colorado lawyers in all practice areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously published in The Docket.