Revisiting LinkedIn as a Power Tool for Legal Networking

It’s hard to believe that I started teaching LinkedIn over 12 years ago. Back then, in a room full of 50 people, I would ask, “How many of you are on LinkedIn?” Maybe 10 or 15 hands would go up. Today it’s well over 95%. However, it’s my second question to a group at the CBA recently that raised my concerns. The question was, “How many of you that are on LinkedIn are getting value or business from using it?” Only one or two hands went up. Ugh…

The reality is that social media can be a massive time-suck and most people are pretty fed up with the negativity or the grandstanding that occurs on these various sites. The goal of my article today is to help you find value and, yes, even business, in using LinkedIn by cutting to the bone what really matters most. I’ll break it down into four parts.

Part 1. Making the most of your profile.
So, you’re in the process of researching kitchen remodeling companies and a friend refers you to Kitchens-Kitchens-Kitchens. You visit their website to look at some samples and the page says, “under construction.” If you’re like me, it’s game over for Kitchens x 3! This may be what happens when a legal prospect comes to your LinkedIn page and finds no picture, phone number or well-written bio. If you’re going to have any type of online presence, put some time and thought into it. The best profiles always have:
A professional photo
A well-written bio that tells your story or business proposition
Contact information to make conversions happen
A complete and accurate history of your successful career
Recommendations from clients if you can get them. People like to see others that have had success working with you.

Part 2. Getting the “right” connections for you.
This question comes up all the time, “Who should I be connecting with?” The answer may depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. For me, I’m looking to connect with clients, strategic partners, centers of influence and attorneys who may appreciate my content. My connection list is already at 7,600 and growing daily. For you it may be much less, based on who you feel would be valuable to connect with. The main reason for growing a larger list of contacts is to increase your 2nd degree connections for proactive lead generation. I’ll touch on this in part four of my article. The other reason is to increase connectivity with others so you can share your ideas, educational materials and to self-promote yourself on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in growing your LinkedIn contact list, be sure to click the “My Network” tab at the top which will open up a page with instructions to import your computer or online database into LinkedIn all at once. This is recommended versus doing it manually.

Part 3. Posting content to get noticed.
If you’re like me, you scroll through the LinkedIn posts that magically appear on your screen every day. You’ll notice that some people seem to post way too much, while others are not seen at all. In my experience, the key is to be somewhere in the middle. Additionally, I wouldn’t suggest strictly doing self-promotions. People will get pretty sick of seeing how “great” you are and just tune you out. For balance, I do three posts a week. They consist of:
Educational material that I’ve produced (written or video) or sharing someone else’s content with my own spin on it.
Promotional content that my contact may get value from seeing. For example, an upcoming CLE event where I’m speaking on business development best practices or an award won for doing good work in the legal field.
Ask a business question to get feedback and interaction. I just responded to one of these today asking, “Why don’t attorneys ask their clients for referrals?” Good question, and I was happy to answer it and share my expertise.

Additionally, it’s important to use images, hashtags and to tag relevant people in the post to get the best results. One way you know a post is successful is by the number of likes, comments and shares it gets. Overall, this is more of a marathon than a sprint.

Part 4. Using LinkedIn as a lead generator.
Now that you have a great profile, terrific contacts and regular content posted, it’s time to get serious about what LinkedIn can really do for you! There are two primary ways to get leads, including:
Looking through your contacts’ contacts. As you know, when you connect with someone, they become a 1st degree connection. This means that their clients, friends and business associates are now your 2nd degree connections. In most cases, you should have access to scrolling through and seeing who your clients know. For example, if my client “Bob” knows 37 lawyers in Chicago, I can write down a list of 10 that we could review together in order to identify who he knows best AND who might be open minded enough to speak with me.
You can type in a company’s name in the search bar at the top and pull up all of their employees. Then, review the employees in positions of interest (GCs for example) to see who you know that knows them. For example, a GC at ABC Insurance shares five connections with you. Of the five, who do you know best that could introduce you to that GC?

At the end of the day, there is no better tool invented for business development lead generation than LinkedIn. It’s all about learning how to use it and creating a comfortable approach to asking your best friends and clients to introduce you for the right reasons (to help connect two great people, for example).

To be clear, LinkedIn is not a fit for everyone. You need to be willing to invest time, money and energy into using it in order to get the proper return. I hope you have a better understanding of this diamond in the rough and can see some value in using it. For more information or to speak with me directly about LinkedIn best practices, please email me at [email protected].