'Hire' LinkedIn for referrals, marketing your firm, lawyers advise
For most people, LinkedIn is an online repository for your resume and a website that you rarely visit and almost never update. But the social media site can be a powerful advertising and content distribution tool for attorneys and law firms.
That was the message from attorneys Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields, who dished out some tips on how to maximize usage of LinkedIn during a Thursday afternoon session at ABA Techshow at the Hilton Chicago. Co-authors of the book LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, Kennedy and Shields touted the benefits of the LinkedIn as an advertising, networking, blogging and messaging tool.
“It’s best to think about LinkedIn in terms of a client,” said Kennedy. “What am I hiring LinkedIn to do for me?”
Lawyers looking to use LinkedIn to increase their business or their network of contacts must speak to their audience. “A LinkedIn profile is for the reader and not for the writer,” said Kennedy. “You want to make it easy and also attractive to read.”
In that vein, Kennedy argued it’s better to think of LinkedIn as a tool for fellow professionals to refer clients or business to you, rather than a tool for someone to hire a lawyer directly. “When I used to do trusts and estates, I’d try and get connections with financial planners, insurance agents and professionals like that,” said Kennedy. “I wasn’t necessarily writing to people who are looking for lawyers.”
LinkedIn can also be used as a pseudo-blog for lawyers who don’t wish to maintain their own blogs or websites.
“LinkedIn is a great way to put content out there and get it noticed, not just by your contacts but by a wider audience,” said Shields. By starting or joining LinkedIn groups, users can disseminate content to people who might otherwise be unreachable.
“It’s important for you to determine what’s interesting to your audience,” said Shields. “Especially if you have access to information that they might not. You can establish yourself as the go-to person for that information.”
Posting content is also advantageous because LinkedIn provides built-in analytics so that users can see which of their posts generates the most views.
Shields recommended using the “find alumni” function to increase your network. “For whatever reason, when you meet someone who went to your school, you feel an instant connection,” said Shields. “LinkedIn is trying to maximize this.”
She also talked about how LinkedIn allows users to send targeted messages to people in their network, allowing users to tag and categorize their contacts and disseminate information accordingly.
Meanwhile, Kennedy pointed out that LinkedIn ads are relatively inexpensive and are a good cost-effective way to build an audience.
Skills and endorsements are important, too. “If I’m looking for a good public speaker, then I’m going to gravitate towards the person with the most endorsements,” said Kennedy.
Most importantly, Shields and Kennedy reminded everyone that LinkedIn is, at its heart, a social network. As such, a personal touch is always best – especially if you’re looking to build out your network of contacts.
“Always personalize the LinkedIn invite,” said Shields. “You must give people a reason to accept.”