As an expert in legal marketing and public relations, attorneys often tell me that they don’t get new clients online. They tell me their work is “too sophisticated” for referrals of that nature. I often have to explain that the very first thing that possible clients and referral sources do when they receive a business card or word-of-mouth referral is conduct some research about you, and the only place they do it is…online. Thus, both your website and LinkedIn profile are very important tools for selling yourself and your practice. Read on to find out the 11 most important LinkedIn tips for lawyers that will help you market yourself and grow your practice.
First Impressions Matter
LinkedIn is oftentimes a prospective client’s first online impression of you, which is why it is imperative that you “wow” them with an amazing profile! Many attorneys know that they should have a LinkedIn account, but they don’t understand how or why they should use it.
I am here to tell you, first-hand, that LinkedIn can, and will, help you grow your business and your personal brand if used properly. I, myself, have retained at least 5 clients in the past year through my LinkedIn profile alone. Here are 11 LinkedIn profile tips and tricks for you to put to use today.
1. Complete Your Profile
Take the time to fill out your entire profile. LinkedIn has a feature on the right-hand column, “Profile Strength,” that tells you how complete your profile is. When you click “Edit Profile” it shows you which categories are recommended for you to fill out (i.e. the missing categories). Having a completed profile will make you look more trustworthy and credible and give your profile visitors good insight into what you do.
2. Upload a Professional Photo
Statistics show that people respond well to photos. Upload an up-to-date professional headshot of yourself. Don’t use a photo that is 20 years old, a model shot with hair blowing in the wind, something blurry, or anything that doesn’t present you in the best possible light. If you can get a professional headshot taken, even better!
3. Include Your Contact Info
What’s the use of having a great profile if someone doesn’t know how to get a hold of you? Fill out all of your contact information. Phone number, address, website address, Twitter account (if you have one), etc. Further down on your page is a category titled, “Advice for contacting me.” Make sure to include the best way to contact you, whether it’s your cell phone, work phone, website, etc.
4. Be Concise
These days, less is more, and attention spans are short. Include an excellent, but concise summary about yourself and your practice with everything a potential client needs to know about you. But don’t overdo it. Just give them an important summary of the information, and make it compelling.
5. Use a Custom URL
Instead of having a generic URL, click the “Edit” button to the right of your URL (underneath your photo) and follow the instructions to create a URL with your name, firm name, Esq., etc. For example, mine is: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaelkan/.
This will not only make your profile easier to find, but also will boost your SEO and make it easier for Google to identify your profile when clients search for your name.
6. Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Get to know your privacy settings. Do you want everyone to be able to see your connections? If not, make this private. Do you want people to be able to see if you’ve viewed their profile, or do you prefer to remain anonymous? Make sure your privacy settings are working in your favor, but also that you aren’t giving out more information than you’d like to.
7. Utilize Recommendations
If you don’t feel comfortable tooting your own horn, get someone else to do it for you. You should ask your satisfied clients, former employers, peers, etc. for recommendations of you and your work. You can offer a recommendation of them in exchange. Recommendations are a great way to make you look trustworthy and competent. They sell you so that you don’t have to. Also, please be aware that recommendations are not the same thing as endorsements, which are akin to “likes” on Facebook and don’t mean nearly as much.
8. Be Personable
Don’t just look like an intimidating, cold legal expert. Be approachable and friendly. Include a few of your interests, hobbies, and details about your life outside of your work. Why is this important? Sometimes people will contact you only because they share a love of the same activity or organization. This is like adding an “interests” section to your resume – it makes you standout and look like a real, normal person.
9. Join Groups and Be Active
This is a BIG one. LinkedIn groups are powerful for networking and gaining connections and awareness for yourself. Join LinkedIn groups that have potential clients and referral sources for you (e.g. Alumni groups, bar associations, etc.). Participate in these groups by responding to discussions, or starting discussions that are relevant to your field. Make yourself known as an expert by adding value, as opposed to just selling yourself. Not only will this give you a name in your community, but it can also drive people to your website or blog.
10. Post Updates
You should be posting updates several times a week. Your updates should be about your professional accomplishments, victories, upcoming events, speaking engagements, and articles or information relevant to your practice area. Never post controversial or negative statements. Also, refrain from over-posting or people will not read your posts. Basically, use your common sense, but your goal is to remain top-of-mind when people decide they need legal advice.
11. Use Connections Wisely
Do you accept the connection request or not? There is no need to accept requests from everyone, but if you think they could be a potential client or other resource, go ahead. LinkedIn shows you if you have connections in common, which may make you feel more comfortable and more likely to engage in a relationship with a person you don’t know. The reason to keep adding connections is that every time you post an update, you show up in your connections’ news feeds, which again helps to keep you at the top of their minds.
Hopefully these LinkedIn tips for lawyers were helpful, and you now should understand why it’s important for lawyers to use LinkedIn as a key part of their marketing efforts.
I hope I’ve motivated you to improve your LinkedIn profile and use it more, or to create one and get involved if you haven’t already. For questions or comments, please contact me at Lisa@LisaPR.com and, of course, connect with me on LinkedIn.
*This is a guest post by Lisa Elkan. She is owner of LisaPR.com and has over 10 years of experience in public relations and marketing in the legal industry.