2014 was the year when professionals began to look rather out of touch if they did not have a proper LinkedIn (*) profile.
2015 will be the year when I hope all law firm management will finally understand the power of LinkedIn as one of the most powerful research, relationship-building and business-winning tools any professional firm has ever had. And it’s all free!
I don’t claim to be a marketing professional, but over the last year at Exen we have worked with people who are, and who have taught us a great deal about how to improve our business using LinkedIn. I would therefore like to share some of the lessons we have learned in this blog.
So, where are the opportunities for law firms with LinkedIn and how should you maximise them?
One of the hardest parts for lawyers in winning new clients is identifying and meeting the decision makers and getting to know them.
LinkedIn is a gem for doing this.
Have you ever used Advanced Search? Very few professionals know about this (free) tool on LinkedIn. Go to your LinkedIn profile and look at the search bar at the top – just to the right is a button saying ‘Advanced’. Press on this and you won’t believe what opens up! A complete search engine to find people – not just those you know in your network, but the people they know.
If you have hundreds of contacts (1st degree connections), who in turn each have several hundred (2nd degree connections) and then they also are connected to hundreds (3rd degree connections), you are accessing literally millions of people.
I heard of a businesswoman who was looking at doing business in Dubai and used LinkedIn for her first visit to the country. All her team did searches on their contacts to see who they knew in Dubai. They didn’t know anyone directly, but knew lots of people who knew others. They asked their contacts to introduce them to understand the local market – something that is a very social media thing to ask (you’ll note they weren’t asking for business direct). And her first meeting turned into a year’s contract!
So the anyone responsible for business development should pull out that target list that was put together at your last business planning session. Who are your top five dream clients on that?
- Do an advanced search to see who you know in that company. You may be surprised and even find a former employee is now working at your dream future client!
- You may find someone you know really well used to work there till recently – you could ring them up and ask if they could talk you through the business and if they think your firm would be a natural fit
- Other options include going to your contacts at the company and asking for a coffee to understand their business; you could ask for introductions to the legal team or other directors and of course you can read a number of LinkedIn profiles to understand more about the people at the firm
Relationship building on LinkedIn
The next hard stage of winning new clients is to stay in touch and network, when you can’t ring a good contact every week.
What you can do is to post interesting content on LinkedIn and this will show up in your contact’s Notifications. Ideally you would post material that will add value to the client – if they talked about changing IP laws in China, you would post content that is helpful and with insights that they will spot. You will then be gently on their radar before you next get in touch directly.
You can also go out to this contact – look for them posting content and ‘like’ it on LinkedIn or add a useful comment. Anyone posting always loves feedback and to know that others are really reading what they have put out there.
Be found on LinkedIn
Ask any business person or professional to describe LinkedIn and they are likely to say “contact database”, “networking tool” or even “a nuisance”. Very rarely does anyone say “it is the world’s most powerful business search engine”.
Increasingly your potential clients are searching for people with expertise among their network of contacts – particularly for niche expertise such as employment law, intellectual property or other specialisms.
Will you be found when they search for your expertise? To make sure you are found you need to make sure
- Your LinkedIn profile is ‘all star’ or 100% complete – you need a photo, summary, previous jobs and education. This blog on LinkedIn outlines exactly what you need to do
- You need your professional headline – or job title – to have words that people might search for. Don’t just put “Partner, John Smith Lawyers” but also add words that could be searched, such as “Intellectual Property lawyer, protecting client assets in China, India and Europe”
- Write your Summary to help potential clients understand how you can help them – don’t write your CV
Have you successfully used LinkedIn to win business and build relationships? Have you seen an increase in the profitability of law firms by using LinkedIn? Do share your stories below and good luck to those who are just starting out using LinkedIn strategically.
Tweet me your thoughts to: @KatchrData
Blog post by Graham Moore, Managing Director, Katchr
* LinkedIn, the LinkedIn logo, the IN logo and InMail are registered trademarks or trademarks of LinkedIn Corporation and its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.