Many lawyers are finding LinkedIn a solid source of new clients. But merely posting your profile and sitting back won’t be sufficient. Here is what you need to do and how to do it.
Table of Contents
Published November 2013. Copyright 2013 James Publishing.
LinkedIn can benefit all attorneys. From networking to keeping up with industry news to recruiting other attorneys for your firm, LinkedIn can help improve your practice. Understanding how you want to use the site is crucial to your success. Do you want this to be a profile of your successes, or perhaps you want to actively network with personal injury, estate, and civil attorneys? Maybe you want to connect with small business owners who need to keep their company protected? As we continue throughout this eBook, keep in mind what your objectives are, so you can have a clearer purpose for LinkedIn. The clearer you are on what you want to do, the less time you will waste. To help you clarify your purpose on LinkedIn, answer these questions before proceeding:
- What type of clients and referral partners do I want from LinkedIn?
- Where can I find them on LinkedIn?
- How can I use LinkedIn to build my relationship with them?
- What other benefits can I derive from LinkedIn?
- Why would I use LinkedIn over other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter?
Once you have determined a course of action, then you need to go about setting this plan into action. Throughout this eBook, we will guide you with different strategies and ideas you can use to benefit from this business network. We will take you from setting up your profile to building a network on LinkedIn to fashioning your message and brand to finally organizing a regular routine you can manage to keep on top of this social network. Finally, and this cannot be stressed enough. Do not use LinkedIn for sales. No one hires a lawyer based on his or her LinkedIn profile. However, they will call you from your profile. That is why you must treat LinkedIn as a way to generate relationships, not business. Use LinkedIn as a way of generating value for future prospects, so when they need your services they will think of you first. The relationships you create on the site will turn into business, based on the value you deliver. If you have to sell, then you are probably missing the point of this being a social network. A good rule of thumb is that if you would not conduct business offline like this, then it probably will not work on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Profile: Setting up a complete profile
LinkedIn starts and ends with the LinkedIn profile. From completing your own to perusing other profiles across the site, the profile plays a pre-dominant role on this social network. Setting up the right profile requires an intricate combination of information and interest. Too much information on the site and you will drown out future referral partners. At the same time, you need to interest your visitors to inquire more about how you can help them based on your experience. To help you set up a good profile we take you systematically through this process. We start with setting up an account and then go through the different sections of your LinkedIn profile. Note: If you already have an account on LinkedIn, skip steps 1-7 of the sign up and go straight into editing your profile.
Editing Your LinkedIn Profile
Below is a step by step plan to update your profile, so you appear appealing to your prospects, customers, and referral partners. To edit your profile, go to the drop down menu under Profile and click“Editing Profile”. Otherwise you will only be able to see your profile, not edit it. LinkedIn Photo: To share your mug or not to share, this is the question most lawyers ask when they start. The overwhelming response from LinkedIn users is to share your image. People deal with other people, and they want to put a face behind your profile. Your photo makes you more human for those looking to build a professional relationship. You can easily add a picture by uploading a clean headshot of yourself. Note: use something professional as an attorney. While a travel agent can get away in a Bob Marley tropical flamingo shirt, you need to display a professional image on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Headline: Next, have a clean headline that states how you help your clients. Too many attorneys state only their title on LinkedIn. Stand out, and express how you help clients as well. This is especially important during LinkedIn searches where the only thing a prospect might see is your name, picture, and headline. The headline has to grab LinkedIn user’s attention from a sea of attorneys in searches. To do this think about how you help your clients, and why previous clients chose you over your competitors. Here are some real LinkedIn headline examples that state the benefit of what they do, and clearly list their profession as attorneys.
Jeffrey is the Attorney-Owner of Law Offices. Representing injured, abused and disabled Nebraskans.
Making Life Easier for Families – Wills, Trusts, and Special Needs Planning.
Corporate General Counsel & Franchise Attorney: Startups, Buy or Sell a Business, Leasing and especially Franchising.
“I help people transform divorce from an ending into a beginning.” (Divorce Mediator)
LinkedIn Summary: Some business professionals write long, elaborative 1,000 word summaries on their profile. They are selling themselves on LinkedIn, something you should never do. Keep in mind that this is a summary of who you are. Think of this as a longer snapshot, not a chance to Always Be Closing. A good summary will include the following three items:
- Tell your business and company story in less than 250 words, so your profile visitors know why they should speak with you.
- Provide compelling evidence of how you can help the visitor. Use social proof, such as LinkedIn testimonials, case studies, and hard figures.
- Include a call to action. Every summary should end with you asking the reader for coffee, or calling you at 555-123-4567. Either way, do not have them learn all about you without asking them to move the relationship forward.
Employment History When filling out your employment history, take care to list only relevant legal jobs. People do not care if you were a waiter or retail clerk when you were 16, unless it is your only job experience. Conversely, experienced attorneys can use the project tabs on the right hand side of the profile editor to list particular cases or clients you worked with that you can disclose. Note: if you need permission from the client to publish this information, get this ahead of time and in writing. The key with your employment history is to be specific and succinct in your accomplishments. Use your resume to fill in your employment history. Education Next, list your education, both your law school education and undergraduate degree. If you live in or near a city, you went to high school; it is ok to list that as well. However, this is not required. Additional Sections Finally, go through the additional information sections. Over the past few years, LinkedIn added a number of sections for any pertinent information that would not fit with the rest of your profile. In this section, you will find anything from your summary and project sections, which we discussed above to languages, publications, organizations, honors & awards, and more. Here are a few relevant sections for attorneys looking to buttressing their professional standing. Publications: Have you been published in a peer review law journal? If so, include all pertinent information about the publication. Preferrably, if you have a link to the article, include that. If not, provide the title, publication, date, and page. Even better, did you write a book? The cult of authorship is huge in business, and can get you a few extra looks on LinkedIn. Also, if you did publish a book, you might want to mention that in your headline. Note: Keep articles fresh. Do not include articles older than 3-5 years. One, it appears that you are not keeping Organizations: Include the bar you belong to, along with any other professional and society organizations. Certifications: Any relevant legal or business certifications you might have should be included here. You might even want to include some of the annual courses need to maintain your law license. Volunteering & Causes: Do you have a cause that you support by volunteering or donating to on a regular basis? Include the charity information along with what you do. Charities give people an insight into the type of person you are. Since people like doing business with people, tell people about your human side. Additional Contact Info Unless you have a cool story or interest that does not fit anywhere else, you do not have to fill out your interests at the bottom of your profile. On the flip side, you definitely need to fill in the section for LinkedIn connections to contact you. Marketers term this a Call-To-Action. This is a specific action request on the marketer for the viewer to stay in touch with you. Here are three recommended ways people can connect with you through LinkedIn:
- Website: Your website is your personal branding, so direct them to your website to learn more about your business and services.
- Phone Number: Call me always works well
- Email: You are not a big fan of random phone calls. Then provide your email address for LinkedIn contacts.
My recommendation is to test out what works best for your business. If people are viewing your profile, but not contacting you then you need to switch up your process.
LinkedIn Recommendations and Endorsements
The final part of your LinkedIn profile requires you reaching out to people who already know about the quality of services you provide. Recommendations Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn recommendations. These recommendations are on your profile for a long time, and provide the social proof to your profile viewers that you know what you are doing. This is why we need to focus on getting the right recommendations for your business. Below are two recommendation examples; one bad, one good. Read the recommendations first, and form your own opinion. Below we discuss the difference between the two. Bad Recommendation Good Recommendation What is the difference? The difference is that the second recommendation specifically states how the person being praised helped the person giving the recommendation. In the first recommendation, there is a lot of jargon, little proof that the person was helpful, and few specific examples of how they worked together. Is “extremely organized, timely, focused, and a pro at organizing and documenting a business” code for an intern who filed papers all summer? This is too vague to be useful. Furthermore, how did these “valuable skills” help the person specifically? Why were they valuable? Too many unanswered questions here, and that is the point. If I have these questions, then others will as well. Your recommendations should increase the status of the recommended, not deflate the person’s ability to prospects. This is why the second recommendation is more valuable. First, you can tell from the familiar way the person is talking that the two people know each other well. Second, you see specific examples of how the person’ work helped the person giving the recommendation. “He took my company from snooze to clients who appreciated my professionalism with 7 listings plus a management position.” We have results in the second recommendation, which is what your prospects want to see. Have your best clients talk about what you did to help them. All other recommendations are irrelevant. How to Recommend Someone The biggest question we always get about recommendations is not how to write a good recommendation on LinkedIn. The biggest question is how do we recommend someone? Step 1: Go to the person’s profile you want to recommend. Under the drop down menu for “Send a Message” click on “Recommend.” Step 2: Choose the box that fits best how you know the person in the pop up box. Step 3: Follow the steps below to Create Your Recommendation. Endorsements The newest trend on LinkedIn is Endorsements. Instead of having one person write a lengthy letter about your skills, collect a number of people quickly clicking on your invaluable skills. As you can see in the example below, the more endorsements you have on your profile, the more you provide a graphically pleasing social proof campaign from people currently in your network for new visitors to your profile. While this is not as powerful as a recommendation, the combined power of many people endorsing you is definitely a boost to your profile. Giving Endorsements Giving an endorsement to someone else is simple. Just like recommendations, you go to the person’s profile. A box will appear above the person’s profile with a list of five skills. You can endorse all or some of these skills. If you do not want to endorse someone for a skill, click the “X” next to his or her skill. Then Clicks the Endorse button, and you are done.
LinkedIn Groups: The right groups for your target market
You finished your LinkedIn profile now what do you do? This is the point, where most businesses stop working LinkedIn. They believe that the profile is all they need to bring in prospects. If only marketing were that simple. Instead, this is where the real work begins. Now, you need to reach out to your target market, create new connections, engage with prospects, and build your brand through interactions with other members. LinkedIn groups are the perfect breeding ground for you to achieve these goals. In the information below, we turn over most of your assumptions on LinkedIn. From creating new connections to bringing in new business, we will demonstrate how the right group can determine your success online.
Five Quick Steps To Join Any LinkedIn Group
Joining a LinkedIn group can be done in five steps in less than 2 minutes. Step 1: Search for a group using a keyword that describes the type of group you are targeting for business. For example, if you want to join the American Bar Association then type in the American Bar Association. Step 2: Filter your search based on whatever groups you are interested in joining. You need to create a filter in the search area for “Groups”, so you search does not return people, companies, jobs, or messages. The basic filters on the search page will ask you what type of groups you want to join, and the primary language spoken in the group. LinkedIn includes three types of groups in their search: your groups, open groups, and member only groups.
Your Groups: You are currently a member.
Open Groups: Open for anyone to join.
Member Only Groups: The moderator must approve you.
Check out the advanced search features if you want to include additional filters, such as location and industry. Step 3: Join the group. Step 4: Adjust your settings. Note: The last two steps in the process are optional, but recommended. Some groups can inundate you with hundreds of daily emails from every conversation in the group. Click the here link if you do not want every conversation sent to you inbox. Step 5: Remove all or part of the emails from a group if you do not want to be bothered with any emails from the group. Another option, which may be preferable for a group you engage in regularly, would be to set up a daily or weekly email digest of all conversations. To set this up, check the Digest Email button if you want digest emails. If you do not want, any emails then unclick the button. Likewise, while you are in the settings, unclick the announcement button if you do not want the announcements from the moderator. This is a personal preference. LinkedIn automatically sets it up for you to receive a group’s messages and conversations. Therefore, you will have to do this with each group you join.
Here are the three things you need to know when you search for groups on LinkedIn.
First, be particular about which groups you join. LinkedIn limits you to 50 groups and most attorneys do not have time to join and participate in too many groups. Realistically you will probably not be active in more than 5-10 groups at the most. Most attorneys can get business from just 1-2 targeted groups on LinkedIn. Second, research which groups you want to join. Most attorneys have a good idea of the type of clients they want to associate with for their practice. For example, are you looking for quality referral partners on LinkedIn? Then think about what type of business owners you are interested in meeting. If you want to connect with CPAs then find a quality CPA group. Take the CPA & Business Professional Group on LinkedIn as an example. This group has 37,572 members at the time of writing. Most of these members are CPAs, accountants, and other financial professionals. If you work with small and medium sized businesses, a CPA group would be an ideal place to find solid referral partners online. You can now interact with a large swathe of CPAs interested in connecting with you as learn about your services. Another approach would be to find location based groups, like LinkedWorking Los Angeles. The group has 8,101 members, all based in the Los Angeles area. A local group helps you create the close connections that you often need if your practice does not have licenses in other states. You might find a more diverse set of connections in the second type of group. At the same time, any location-based group will probably have a few prospects and/or referral partners perfect for your needs. Third, make sure a group fits your objective. Do not be distracted by groups that do not help you achieve your business objectives – you need to focus on the groups that provide valuable opportunities.
Create Your Own Group
A third option exists for those who are not happy with any groups currently out there. Start your own group. While I do not recommend this as the first thing to do, if you find there are no good groups for your business, then you might want to consider this option. Take the two groups we discussed above: CPA & Business Professionals and LinkedWorking Los Angeles. These are two very different groups; however, an LA business attorney will want to be a part of both groups, because of the potential leads each could provide for their practice. What if instead of two different groups, you created a Los Angeles CPA & Business Professionals group. The benefits of this new group will be twofold: 1. you create a specialized group for professionals in your area to connect. 2. By setting up the group, you become an authority figure in the group. This increases your trust and prestige with the members. In other words, this is a great way to brand your business. Setting up a group is easy. All you need to do is go to the Interests menu. In the submenu you will find the groups option. Once you click the “Create a group” button, you will be presented with the screenshot below. To create a group, simply follow the instructions listed below on LinkedIn. Three Important Items to Pay Attention to When Creating a Group
- Have a logo for the group. Make the logo an image that clearly describes what your group does for its members. Without an image, you will find it hard to build a group.
- Include your group’s purpose in your name. Do not have a weird name that no one can pronounce or understand. Keep the name simple.
- Include a clear, succinct summary of the purpose of the group.
Engage With Other Group Members
Once you have joined a few groups, begin interacting with other group members. The best way to get involved would be to first comment, like, and listen to what others are discussing. Become an active member in the group, without promoting your business overtly in the first month. Sales are all about repeat contacts, and LinkedIn groups provide a safe place for prospects to learn more about your skill set. To do this, you should interact with group members, so they feel comfortable with your presence. A funny thing often happens when you show interest in others online. They feel awkwardly guilty about neglecting you, and in some cases will then reciprocate your interest in them, by finding out what you do. This is an excellent opportunity to build a professional, profitable relationship with prospects. Spend about 5-10 minutes every day commenting on other people’s posts and connecting with them on LinkedIn. If this seems daunting, set this time aside in advance. Personally, I use my Android phone to connect with group members. I check my groups late at night. I comment, like, and interact right before going to sleep.
LinkedIn Search: How to find the right connections
You are now an upstanding member of a few LinkedIn groups, and have a nicely polished profile. Next, we need to connect with prospects on LinkedIn. What I am about to describe to you below you will not find in any other LinkedIn book. These ideas are powerful, because so few other attorneys bother to spend the time and energy to do this right, which gives you a tremendous advantage over their efforts on LinkedIn. However, as Peter Parker’s uncle stated in Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” If you misuse or abuse these ideas then you will probably notice that your ability to connect on LinkedIn will be restricted. Worse yet, if you abuse this idea you might find yourself booted from LinkedIn altogether. This is why following the information below to the letter is very important. Additionally, stay on top of LinkedIn’s connection rules, because they do change from time to time. You have been warned; now let us discuss a powerful idea that can change the trajectory of your business on LinkedIn using a process that has been polished through roughly 15,000 LinkedIn connection requests over dozens of LinkedIn accounts over the past four years. Have you ever noticed that LinkedIn seems like a web of connections? You have first, second, and third degree connections on the site. It all sounds very much like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Your goal while using LinkedIn is to get as many people as possible into your second-degree connections pool. When you do, you will have a wider net to create more quality connections on LinkedIn. To do this you need to use a combination of LinkedIn search and groups to achieve your goals. This is why we helped you join groups first. You will need the groups to find quality contacts through LinkedIn search. Below we will explain how to run a proper search in order to find quality leads.
Five Steps to Find Quality Connections
Step 1: Enter A Keyword In The Search Bar. Do you remember the search bar we used to find LinkedIn groups? You can also use the same search bar to connect with people. Type in a keyword and click the spyglass. Step 2: Use the Advanced Search pop up menu on the upper left of the search page. You will see the search page come up with results. Ignore the results, and click on Advanced in the upper left corner of the search area. (See screenshot below) You need to filter out connections that do not fit your needs. Specifically we will need to use the filters in the following sections:
Keywords: If you have any specific keywords that your prospects use, enter them in the advanced search.
Title: Type in the title of your ideal connection. For example, if you want to connect with CPA’s, type in “CPA” to find licensed accountants.
Location: You have two options for restricting people searches by location. The first is at the bottom of the first column under Advanced People Search. You can search for people within a certain number of miles from a Postal Code. The second option is in the second column where you can restrict location searches by metropolitan areas (e.g. Greater Los Angeles Area).
Relationship: This filter is crucial! When you have a basic account, you can only use people search for second-degree connections. If you want to connect with third degree connections and group members, you need to know their email before connecting. You are already connected to your first-degree connections. Therefore, Second-degree connections are the only people we want to search. This is where the Kevin Bacon analogy above comes into play.
Industry: Going back to the CPA example, you want to find connections that are in accounting. Find Accounting in the Industry section.
Groups: This filter is crucial! Choosing a group is as important as limiting searches to second-degree connections. LinkedIn permits you to request a connection with them if you are both in the same LinkedIn group, or you have their email address. This is why we set you up with different LinkedIn groups first.
Advanced Filters: The other filters are only accessible if you have a paid LinkedIn account. While I have seen some good uses for paid LinkedIn accounts, this feature is not necessary for all users. You might want to play around with LinkedIn for a few weeks before upgrading.
Once you have gone through the filters, click the search button at the bottom left. Step 3: Choose Quality Prospects. You should now see a number of quality results appear in your search area. Start selecting profiles that seem to fit your business needs. If you want to select multiple profiles, open up the profiles in a new tab. On Windows, you do this by right clicking on the person’s name and selecting Open in New Tab. On Macs, you click the “CMD” and “T” over the name. Step 4: Check out their profile. Learn more about your prospective connections by going through their profile. Review their profiles to see if they are a good fit. Read their experience and education details to see if you can glean why they are a good referral connection. Second, check out what groups they belong to, in order to get ideas for future groups you could join. Next, make sure they are a second-degree connection with you, and belong to one of your groups. Finally, click Connect at the top of their profile, so the two of you can speak. Step 5: Add the person as a connection. As you can see in the image below, the person in the example and I are both members of the Digital Marketing group. There is also space to include a personal note. Whenever possible avoid including the generic note prefilled in the message box. This message is overused and worthless. Instead, send a personalized message like the following:
I just came across your profile on Digital Marketing. I feel a connection between us could be mutually beneficial. If you are interested in exploring things further, please let me know a convenient time to talk.
By including this simple message over the years, I have been able to increase my connection rate from 30-50% to 50-70%. It is amazing how a small thing like this can change your open rates.
Repeating the Process
The great thing about searching for prospects on LinkedIn is that you can repeat this process as many times as you want. Connect with five people every day during the week, and you will be amazed at the results after a year. If half of the people connected back, then you would have hundreds of new prospects connecting with you over the year.
LinkedIn Status Updates: Staying in touch with your network
List of Status Update Topics
- New products or services your firm is providing. This can include price changes, additional services, etc.
- New laws that can affect small business owners. Keep small business owners apprised on laws that can help or hurt their business.
- Get insights from your connections. Do you have a pressing problem that presenting to your connections would help you understand their point of view? Maybe you want to do an informal survey of your prospects.
- Ask relevant questions to uncover pain points that your services solve. Not every question has to be about your products or services, but you should be asking connections relevant legal questions to stimulate conversation.
- Discuss legal facts that could affect your connections. Provide in-depth facts that provide actionable steps to stay on the straight and narrow of the law.
- Use Quotes to provide insightful ideas about business and law.
- Links to newsworthy articles that provide your connections with relevant information about business law and entrepreneurship.
- Encourage people to connect with you on other social media channels. If you are looking to increase your fan base on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and/or subscribers on YouTube this is a great opportunity.
- Events –Any events you want to promote. Share the event with your connections, so they can attend. Then after the event, give them a summary, and a call to action with information about how they can follow up with you on the event.
- Slideshows – Slideshare.net is a great place to post slideshow presentations. The combination between LinkedIn and SlideShare is a very powerful business tool.
- Provide useful information that can help people with their business.
- Tell Lawyer Jokes – I know this might be weird, but people want to relate to you. Showing your human side helps them appreciate your style, and keep you top of mind.
LinkedIn Messages: The power of one-one communication
Now that you have a method for connecting with your prospects, we need to start taking connections offline, so you can start bringing them in as clients and referral partners. While all of the steps listed before will definitely help you achieve this, this section will supercharge your ability to bring your LinkedIn connections offline. When you start connecting with people on LinkedIn, you need to find a way to stay in touch with your network. One of the best methods to do this is by keeping in touch with your connections through LinkedIn messages.
How to Send LinkedIn Messages
First, go to the LinkedIn message inbox. Second, click on Compose Message to start writing the article. Third, go to your address book in the LinkedIn message section, and add a connection you would like to meet for coffee. Fourth, use a copy of the message below. Change it to reflect your personal style and needs. Make sure however that the message is simple, and to the point.
I am making a conscious effort to re-connect with my network on LinkedIn. If you have 15 minutes for a quick phone call feel free to call me in the next day or two. My number is 847-710-7093.
Or let me know what number I should call you? Either way.
Look forward to speaking with you soon!
Fifth, remember to respond to people when they reply. Follow up is everything, especially on LinkedIn. By following these simple steps, you now have a way to build individual relationships with the referral partners you want to build your business. Not everyone will respond back to these requests, but if you are persistent in connecting with your prospective partners and clients you will find reaching out to 3-5 connections every weekday will change the way you do business.
LinkedIn Summary: How to succeed on LinkedIn in just 15 minutes a day
We have gone through every part of the process of using LinkedIn. Now, it is time to put everything together into one simple system.
Succeed with LinkedIn in just 15 minutes a day
First, send out one LinkedIn update. Your post should be something useful that can help your clients every day. Use the list of the LinkedIn updates to find topics. (2 Minutes) Second, reach out to five new contacts. Use the filters we discussed in LinkedIn search to help you connect with targeted prospects. (5 Minutes) Third, engage in 2-3 group discussions. Target prospects and/or referral partners where you can answer their questions, engage in their discussions, and build a relationship. (5 Minutes) Fourth, check your LinkedIn messages. If you have no messages, then send out 3 LinkedIn re-connect messages. Otherwise, answer messages from connections. (3 Minutes) Find a time that works for you every day. Whether you are online first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening makes no difference. That is all you need to do on a daily basis to start finding the success you are looking for with LinkedIn. You do not need to spend every waking hour on the site, however, you might find as you continue to use the site that you want to spend more time each day creating new, valuable connections. If you consistently bring value to the site, the site will be an invaluable resource for your business. The key to your success on LinkedIn is to consistently reach out to new connections, and stay in touch with your current connections. When you do this, you will find business opportunities that were unimaginable before you started using LinkedIn.