If you’re looking to sustain or grow your law firm, then you simply cannot ignore the unparalleled power of LinkedIn. With over 380 Million members, 7 million of whom are in Australia, LinkedIn is a great way to both increase share of your existing clients’ budgets and attract more prospects.

This short guide will show you how to start making the most of LinkedIn, a platform massively under-utilised by the legal profession.

Before you start, where do you want to end up?

LinkedIn is not just one more thing to add to your already busy day. It can amplify and integrate with your existing marketing initiatives, provided you use it strategically.

The key word here is ‘strategically’. This means you need to define goals and set up a plan to meet them.

LinkedIn has almost limitless potential, however lawyers and their firms often have the following standard targets:

  • To grow your email database, engaging prospects on an ongoing basis
  • To develop relationships with key decision makers in target businesses
  • To ensure you remain top of mind with your existing network, helping boost referrals and repeat purchases
  • To promote your upcoming event, targeting people who would benefit from attending.

Once you know what you’re looking to achieve, you can use LinkedIn in this context.

Before you do anything though, you need to make sure your profile is perfect. (In fact, if you’re only going to do one thing from this checklist, it’s this.)

Create a strong, compelling LinkedIn profile

In 2011, BTI Consulting found that people are most likely to seek personal recommendations when finding a lawyer – no surprises there. More interestingly though, they will often get a list of names via referral and then look them up online.

If you’ve ever Googled yourself (who hasn’t) you’ll know LinkedIn profiles appear high up on the list of search results. This means it’s usually one of the first things people will see when they search for you – and very often the only one they click on.

A good acid test is to ask yourself “Would I be happy for my LinkedIn profile to be someone’s first experience of me?” If not, then you have some work to do.

Make sure you have a professional photo, a headline immediately conveying what you do, and a summary explaining:

  • Who can you help and how
  • Your approach to working with clients
  • Some results you’ve achieved (without breaching client confidentiality)
  • And a call to action – invite people to get in touch.

Also make sure to include a complete list of your skills as they will help people searching for a particular skillset to find you and hopefully encourage endorsements. Finally, make sure you’re not displaying skills you don’t have or don’t want to be associated with.

Developing a strategy – the basics

Once you’ve updated your profile, it’s time to start engaging the LinkedIn Community. This is where it comes down to your objectives. Exactly what you need to do will vary, however the following four steps are a good foundation for further engagement.

  1. Connect with your existing clients, prospects, referrers and colleagues. The power of LinkedIn lies not only in who you’re connected to, but who they’re connected to.You may also want to look for ways to connect with those you don’t know.

    For example, you could send tailored invitations letting new people know why you’re getting in touch and how a LinkedIn relationship would benefit them; join the same group or invite people to your own group, again letting them know the benefit; or you could opt to follow them – meaning you see their updates but you’re not connected. The latter options allow you to engage people, build a rapport and then connect.

  2. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to prepare for new business meetings or to research a particular demographic. LinkedIn will tell you if you have connections in common with any target people. You can then use this information to assist you.

    For example, you can contact mutual connections for information on new prospects, or even ask the mutual connection for an introduction or to recommend you to the other person. You can also take a look at the other person’s interests and use this information as an icebreaker.

  3. Share content on a fairly regular basis (weekly or fortnightly). The content you share should show you understand your area of law and your clients’ industries.

    You could also share content that creates a need for your services, e.g. a government announcement regarding new legislation. This content can be third party or your own. Make a list of content you already have and look to reuse, repurpose and update it. You can then share it via LinkedIn’s publishing platform as well as with status updates, group discussions, Company (or Showcase) Pages, Paid Features such as InMail, sponsored updates and direct sponsored content.

  4. Look for ways to move relationships beyond LinkedIn. While it’s a catalyst for getting new work, it’s very seldom the sole reason. In reality, it usually takes a number of steps to generate new work – so you’ll want to find a number of ways to strengthen your relationships.

If you’re looking to better position and grow your practice then you really can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn. It supports your existing initiatives, helps you stay on people’s radars even when you’re busy, and enables you to achieve your objectives more quickly and more easily. I recommend you invest some time in it.

About Kirsten Hodgson

Kirsten Hodgson has 15 years’ legal marketing experience both in-house and as a consultant. She is the Founder of Kaleidoscope Marketing, helping professional services firms to grow their existing client base and attract more of their ideal clients. She has led LinkedIn workshops throughout New Zealand, Australia and the UK, showing professionals how they can harness the power of LinkedIn to grow their practices. The second edition of her book, The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers: Connect, Engage and Grow your Business, was published in August 2015 (following the first edition in 2012). She is a co-creator of ‘Grow your Practice with LinkedIn: for Lawyers’ a CPD accredited online training course.