LinkedIn for Lawyers: The Marketing Tool You Never Knew You Had
If you are a lawyer, chances are you have a LinkedIn account. According to a 2016 ABA survey, more than 93% of lawyers use LinkedIn. In this industry, that number makes sense -- lawyers are used to networking and the no-nonsense, straight-forward way that LinkedIn operates is intuitive for the legal profession. Although most lawyers are on LinkedIn, they are generally not taking advantage of this network as a marketing tool. Most commonly, lawyers from big firms use LinkedIn to search for talent to fill job openings and to keep in the loop about job opportunities. However, LinkedIn has some serious marketing value for small firms and solo practices.
There are obvious personal marketing benefits to keeping an updated LinkedIn account. You can maintain an online curriculum vitae, establish expertise in your field, seek out new and valuable contacts, and maintain existing professional contacts. But, if you are a business owner as well as a legal professional, LinkedIn could be working way harder for you.
Creating and Maintaining an Active LinkedIn Profile
First things first, you should have a company page for your firm. This is a simple way to develop your firm’s brand, connect with potential clients, keep up-to-date with what other firms are doing, and establish legitimacy and trust. As a small firm, having a LinkedIn company page (as well as other social media presence) is the quickest way to establish legitimacy with potential clients. In the majority of cases, your first connection with a potential client is going to happen online. If your firm is not easily searchable and does not have a robust online presence, you will seem outdated and out of touch.
When you build both your personal and your firm’s profiles, keep in mind that this snapshot should be attractive, engaging, and professional. Use a recent, high-quality profile picture in a professional setting. Your headline and summary should indicate what you do while compelling the viewer to continue reading. Think of these first lines as introducing yourself at a networking event. Help the viewer get to know and trust you.
Make sure that your URL is prominent, the link works, and your website is easy to navigate and clearly describes the legal services your firm provides. In your “experience” section on LinkedIn, link to the actual company and educational pages. This also increases legitimacy and makes your profile more trustworthy. Once you’ve completed your profile update, change your settings to “public,” so that your pages will be searchable through LinkedIn’s platform and other search engines.
LinkedIn alerts your network every time you update your profile, so this is a great way to push your business to the front of your connections’ minds on a regular basis.
Smart, Effective Communication Using LinkedIn
Once your LinkedIn profile and company page are completed, it’s time to start making meaningful connections. Although a wider network does increase the chances that your profile will be seen by a potential client, focusing on quality rather than quantity of connections will help convert those viewers into clients. To narrow your focus a bit, you will need to identify your target audience. These are your ideal clients, who you will spend the majority of your marketing time engaging.
Think about your best clients in recent years. What did they have in common? Do you find the greatest success working with young professionals? Small business owners? New families? Once you know who you are looking for, you can use LinkedIn’s advanced search to do some research. Search by keyword, company size, geographic area, industry, etc. to find potential connections.
One of the great things about LinkedIn is it helps you avoid cold-calling by showing you if you have any connections at a company or if you may have a connection in common with someone you want to meet. Utilize those people in your existing network to help you reach out to your target audience.
Another way to build connections is to engage on LinkedIn groups. Find out which groups attract your target audience and begin engaging with those relevant groups.
Sending a LinkedIn invitations should become part of your regular networking practice. Whenever you meet someone and exchange business cards or professional information, follow up with a brief, personal LinkedIn invitation. Although LinkedIn offers a default invitation message, you should not use it. Instead, send a short message that is specific to the person.
Curating Content: Building Trust and Demonstrating Value
With your target audience clearly in mind, you can begin strategizing a marketing plan that is designed to serve them. Think about that ideal client. What are the business or personal challenges that they face? What keeps them up at night?
Your value on LinkedIn is going to be based on your ability to provide compelling, valuable, FREE content. As you demonstrate your ability to solve your target audience’s problems, you will establish credibility. Show that you are an authority on the subject by demonstrating how you help clients achieve their goals.
Like any other content-marketing strategy, the actual information you provide -- whether in the form of a blog post, video, webinar, infographic, etc. -- should be tailored to meet the specific needs of your target audience. Genuinely think about how you could help these potential clients solve a problem or prepare for the future. Attention-grabbing and honest headlines will be essential. No one is going to engage with your content if the headline is boring, confusing, or doesn’t demonstrate value to your target audience.
The key to building credibility is to hold off on the selling. When you send a follow up or thank you message to a new connection, don’t take this as an opportunity to jump right in with a sales pitch. Be polite, professional, and - if possible - ask a casual question. This will give you a chance to start building a rapport and trust. Include your website URL or a quick link to free content in your signature block. This gives the connection an easy way to learn more about you and start engaging with your expertise.
Over time, you can maintain these new connections by sending relationship building messages. Again, these should not be sales pitches. Just provide something of value that is relevant to that person’s business goals. This is where having a narrowly-defined target audience is going to come in handy. If you know, for example, that your target audience is young professionals and you have written a blog post about estate planning for physicians, you can send relationship building messages to the physicians in your network offering them access to your valuable and relevant content.
Once you have build a rapport online, you will need to bring the relationship offline. But don’t jump in too soon with too big of an ask. Any request of your connections should be proportional to the amount of trust you have earned. A little trust = a small ask (like, check out this blog post). More trust = a bigger ask (want to grab lunch to discuss this further?). Only once you’ve established trust, your value, and credibility should you try to convert your online connection to an attorney-client relationship.
Consistency is Key: Integrating LinkedIn Into Your Content Marketing Strategy
Consistency is key when it comes to all social media, and LinkedIn is no exception. Once you’ve built a company page, keep it updated with announcements, fresh content, and relevant information. Maintaining an active profile can take a lot of time, but you can maximize your budgeted marketing time by utilizing the tools offered through LinkedIn in conjunction with your larger marketing strategy.