Stephen Fairley 2013-10-25 11:59:50
How Lawyers Can Leverage LinkedIn to Attract Prospects & Referral Partners LinkedIn is one of the most powerful ways to expand your professional network, control your law firm’s brand and generally increase your online visibility – if you know how to harness that power. LinkedIn, when utilized appropriately, can be an incredibly effective marketing and networking tool not only for making new connections within the legal industry, but it also can provide you with the user identity of people who have visited your profile over a particular date range. This can provide some terrific insight in determining potential business opportunities. LinkedIn is a free service, but they also offer a paid service that gives you even greater insight and more detailed information about users who have viewed your profile. LinkedIn can also give you even more information because it is referenced as a ‘referring’ site in Google analytics. When running a SEO (search engine optimization) campaign or just using Google analytics as an analysis tool, you can see exactly how much traffic has been directed to your website specifically from LinkedIn, helping you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing and networking efforts. I think we can all agree that building long-term, meaningful and influential relationships is foundational to a successful legal practice. People don’t hire law firms—they hire an attorney! The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you have to build meaningful relationships with more potential clients. With over 225 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn has quickly become the go-to business-to-business directory and the most popular social networking platform dedicated to professional business development. To ignore it is the proverbial equivalent of sticking your head in the sand. Learning how to use LinkedIn to your biggest advantage takes time and effort, but it is time well spent. If you are new to LinkedIn, it can be confusing, much like any new software that you need to learn to grow your business. It is important that you know what you can do with LinkedIn and what it can help you accomplish: · Build new relationships with your target market · Establish and foster relationships with referral partners · Strengthen the relationships you currently have and increase your visibility online · Enhance your personal brand · Exchange and distribute information And perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn can help you obtain new inquiries and new business leads. Like most things in life, you only get out of LinkedIn as much as you put into it. To be effective, you will need to spend some time each week to keep your profile up to date and add new information about your practice area. LinkedIn is always in the process of improving its site and adding new features that have the potential to increase the power of your professional network. For instance, LinkedIn has a feature called InMaps which offers a visual representation of what your LinkedIn networks look like. InMaps can show how your LinkedIn connections form groups, displaying very clearly how your connections are related to one another. Not only is this a great way to understand the relationships between you and all your LinkedIn connections, it will help you identify links within your professional associations you were not aware of, giving you the opportunity to expand your connections. InMaps is very easy to use; simply visit the InMaps website (http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com) and grant it permission to connect to your LinkedIn account. InMaps will sort through your contacts and present you with a map of your affiliations. You will see different clusters of closely linked colleagues, and classmates and friends will appear as similarly colored groups. For example, the names of law school classmates may be in red, people in another group may be in green, etc. Within these groups, contacts whose names appear larger represent those who have the largest number of connections within the cluster, so by clicking on a contact within any circle, you can see their profile and how they are connected to your other contacts! In the coming months, LinkedIn will have the capability for one- click addition of your Facebook contacts into LinkedIn, a highly anticipated application! Here are some of the top tips from attorneys who have leveraged LinkedIn to their advantage and gained new clients from its smart use: 1. Keyword load your title and bio! You must commit to do this. You can’t ever hope to get the full benefits of LinkedIn without this. Put in as much information about yourself and your law firm practice areas as you can. Use the same keywords and phrases prospects would use to search for an attorney in your practice area on Google. For example, in your title instead of putting non-helpful terms like: counselor at law, member, shareholder, owner, or attorney; be descriptive like: Chandler divorce attorney or Mesa workers’ compensation lawyer or commercial litigation attorney. Remember that people use LinkedIn like a huge searchable database so only use terms your prospects or potential referral partners would use. My official title at The Rainmaker Institute is CEO, but on LinkedIn my title is: law firm marketing expert, legal marketing, best-selling author, marketing expert for lawyers. 2. Upload A Photo. I will rarely connect with someone who doesn’t have a photo on their profile. What are you hiding? A profile with no picture is a bad thing. LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals so your photo should convey that. Stay away from the photo of you on the golf course or holding a glass of wine. If you don’t have a professional headshot, they are available from any photography business for a nominal fee or simply have someone take a photo of you on your smartphone and upload it from there. 3. Use The Headline Below Your Profile To Make People Want to Know More. When you set up your profile, LinkedIn uses your name, title or position as your headline, but you can edit this to make it more powerful. Try to think of your headline as your professional tagline. You have the opportunity to describe the type of attorney you are and the type of work you are currently doing. Do not make the mistake of listing more than two areas of law here, as you want to appear as a specialist. Specialists generate more referrals than generalists. Remember the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none!” 4. Use The “Sharebox” Often. If you want to see the social power of LinkedIn, this is where you will find it. This area of LinkedIn allows you to add a brief update of what you are doing, any new professional certifications you have received, interesting cases or any other information you feel comfortable sharing. This is not a chat site; it is for information that is professionally relevant. This is a great place to put a small snippet from your blog to tell people what you are thinking or writing about. Here are a few other ideas: · Link to an article you wrote in Attorney at Law Magazine · Ask people to like your Facebook fan page · Tell people what projects you are working on · Update them about a new staff person you recently added · Educate them about who your perfect client is · Ask them a pertinent question · Invite them to sign up for your monthly newsletter · Tell them what you learned at a seminar or conference you recently attended · Educate them about a new law that was just passed or a court ruling 5. Include All Your Web Links. You can add up to three links to your firm’s websites. There are default settings, but these are also customizable. So instead of www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com, I customized it to say “law firm marketing experts,” but it still links to my website. This is another place where you should use your keywords like: “Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney” or “Gilbert divorce lawyer” and link it to your website, blog or even your Facebook fan page. 6. Make Your Profile Public. Remember, it’s called “social media” for a reason—you need to be social. Be sure to make your LinkedIn profile “public,” which means all the information you put in it is available to search engines to make it easier for people to find and connect with you. 7. Don’t Use The Same Copy For Your Summary As Your Bio. The summary is not a place to talk about all the things you have done in your life. This is the place to position yourself as the go-to attorney in your particular practice area and geographical region. Focus on key practice areas, what your perfect client looks like, who you want to connect with, how you work with clients, and what makes you different from other attorneys out there. 8. Use LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups can be a very effective way to increase your visibility among niche audiences, like your target market. It takes a little while to get used to how this works. I recommend you start by listening before diving in. There are some places you should start with, such as alumni groups and groups in the industry segments you follow. We run several LinkedIn groups you can join for free including: Phoenix Arizona Attorneys, Personal Injury Attorney Network and the Rainmaker Law Firm Marketing Group. Simply log in to your LinkedIn account and search for these under groups. Once you understand how groups work, start your own focusing on your target market or potential referral sources (like CPAs, financial advisors or business brokers). 9. Add LinkedIn To Your Email Signature. Most attorneys put their contact information in their email signature; add a link to your LinkedIn account. Here’s mine: http://Rainmaker. MyLinkInvitation.com. I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you on LinkedIn. 10. Take the Relationship Offline. When you connect with a potential referral source on LinkedIn make a point to like or comment on a few of their status updates. Since most people love it when someone notices their update it is highly likely they will check out your profile. Do this a few times over a period of a week or two. They will begin to recognize your face and name. Then reach out to them on LinkedIn using the “send a message” feature. Mention that you have been following their updates and found them very useful. Perhaps you have even passed one on to a client of yours. Invite them to meet for lunch or a cup of coffee so you can learn more about their business. This is a perfectly acceptable way to build your referral network. We have a labor and employment attorney in Philadelphia who increased her revenues by six figures a year using this exact tactic. As soon as you start networking with LinkedIn, you increase your chances of reaching new clients and referral partners. Be prepared and be willing to work at it. This is not something you can “set and forget.” If you’re not into social media or aren’t willing to make the commitment to put in the time and effort to use it to build your referral network or If you’re interested in more tips about building a lifestyle law firm, then I would invite you to give us a call to see if we can help you out. Two-time international best-selling author, Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Over 10,000 attorneys nationwide have benefited from learning and implementing the proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Over the last 12 years, he has become a nationally recognized legal marketing expert and been named, America’s Top Marketing Coach. He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations and has a large virtual footprint with his highly successful Rainmaker legal marketing blog and has over 150,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, please visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or call 888.588.5891.
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