Communications, Legal Supplier

Find real, paying clients on LinkedIn with this 5-step marketing plan for lawyers

By Jana Schilder

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?
    (NOTE: Real-life stalking will get you into trouble; cyber-stalking is completely legal because you are merely reading what people put on their own websites and on social media.)
  • Establish your reputation as a leading lawyer and thinker? (You may have political or judicial aspirations.)

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In 2016, I am still amazed at the number of lawyers who have outdated photos, fuzzy photos, and inappropriate photos.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 worse, on a massage table wrapped in a towel. It was hard to tell because the photo was incorrectly sized and fuzzy, too. Either way, not a good first impression.

Use your headline to stand out. Your LinkedIn headline doesn’t have to say “Personal Injury Lawyer” it can say “Personal Injury Lawyer who cares and gets results.” Don’t write the headline “Wills and Estates Lawyer,” but rather “Wills & Estates Lawyer who can help stop family feuds.” 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 increase the pool of people who will need your services. So, 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.

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.

And, LinkedIn has a search feature to help you find people you might want to connect with.

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 (Facebook has the same tagging feature).

Or you can publish 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 tip No. 1, above. Be systematic with your interactions, ask questions, and share useful tips with your connections.

The Legal A Team does business development, marketing and public relations for lawyers and law firms. We secured three clients over two years from LinkedIn, including American law firm clients, using the steps above. These Cobbler’s Children have shoes.

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