LinkedIn for Lawyers
I want to share my experience of using LinkedIn as a networking tool. I was advised last year that it is an effective tool for lawyers and so I decided to give it a try. LinkedIn is a social network for business people so it’s different to Facebook which is geared more towards consumers. At the moment I would say that the results have been mixed but it hasn’t been long since I started taking it more seriously so it’s still a ‘work in progress’. I’m trying to dedicate more time to some of the elements of LinkedIn that I will be discussing in this article. As well as sharing my thoughts here I’d like to hear feedback from any readers on what their experience has been and if they have any tips or success stories to share.
One of the first things I did when starting out was to clean up my profile so that it was more appealing to visitors. The summary is particularly important as it is the first thing that greets a visitor when they land on your profile so it needs to make a good impression. My professional services are listed concisely so it’s easy to digest, while also explaining the value I can provide to potential clients. Having a photograph is essential as it adds a face to a name and I’ve been advised to use an above the shoulder professional photograph. You can add documents, images and videos to your LinkedIn summary and this not only adds a visual element but it can also be used to highlight your expertise if you decide to add a case study, for example. Recommendations which are like testimonials can be left by clients and even colleagues which help to build your reputation so I try to do this whenever possible.
Growing your network is key as this increases the number of people that you can communicate with and reach. LinkedIn helps in this regard as they make suggestions and you can enter your email addresses to get further suggestions. I try to connect with new contacts after meetings as this is another way to grow your network. When connecting with others I have been advised that it’s best practice to customise your message rather than use the default wording. This makes sense as it just adds a personal touch so I try to do this whenever I can. While connecting with work colleagues is a good start the aim should be to connect with customers and potential customers as these are essentially the people who you want to do business with.
The groups within LinkedIn are interesting and while I have used some I really do need to use them more. The groups are useful for discussions with like-minded individuals so you can ask questions and bounce ideas off other members. Networking with potential clients is also possible but the groups do require a time commitment and a lot of lawyers are time-poor so sometimes it’s difficult to get the right balance. One thing that the groups have achieved is to increase awareness of who I am. At the end of last year LinkedIn was the number one source of traffic to my website so I was quite impressed. One thing to bear in mind is that some groups are not very active or don’t have many useful discussions so an element of research is needed to weed out the unfruitful ones.
LinkedIn publicises the vast majority of your activity so if you make a connection, update your profile or post a message in a group, your connections will see this information in their news feed. You can also add updates to your ‘feed’ that your connections can see. If I produce a blog post I add it to my ‘feed’ and I can also add news from other sources that I think are useful. From what I understand any content you add to your feed is normally published in the email updates that LinkedIn sends out. This can help with awareness as it keeps your business and services in people’s minds. A recent addition has been ‘Publisher’ where you can actually post your own content to LinkedIn that you can share with your connections but I have not had a chance to look at this in any great detail yet.
LinkedIn offers a free and paid version. I currently have a paid membership so this offers a few benefits like the ability to message anyone even if they are out of my network. With a free account there are some restrictions in this regard. I have used the messaging facility to speak to new contacts. On some occasions after messaging and connecting I have set up meetings so it’s been useful from this point of view. A free account is still a very good option for getting a lot out of LinkedIn so it is definitely a good starting point.
On the whole I would say that I’m pleased with what I have achieved with LinkedIn so far but I’d like to see more results. It does require a time commitment so I’m trying to be more active and I guess this will generate more results. One client last year did inform me that he looked at my LinkedIn profile amongst other things when deciding whether to use my services so in this particular instance it was part of the decision making process. I would say that it is a good network for lawyers but it requires a commitment to see the benefits.
Do you have experiences regarding LinkedIn that you’d like to share? I’d like to hear from you. To connect with me on LinkedIn please go to:
Reproduced with the permission of the Sole Practitioners Group (SPG) and first published in the SPG magazine, Solo, in Autumn 2014