As an attorney, you have to be on LinkedIn. Period. This isn't about high-effort marketing. You have to be on LinkedIn because people have been looking you up there, whether or not you know it.
Because LinkedIn falls under the massively wide umbrella of “social media,” many attorneys we see lump LinkedIn in with Facebook. Something to be mostly ignored, or as a diversion. Wrong. LinkedIn isn’t for sharing cat pictures. It’s the world’s largest collection of professionals, with more than 350 million users.
Another misconception is to think of LinkedIn as just a place to put your resume. Reasonable, if you never actively used it because that's what it looks like - but wrong again. LinkedIn isn’t a recruitment site, although it can be used for that purpose. It’s a professional networking site.
It's a search engine for people.
And the best thing? I’m not talking about the bargain shoppers. The people using LinkedIn are both ideal clients and ideal referral partners. These people have invested a lot of thought and care into presenting themselves in a certain way and building vibrant referral networks.
These are the people you should get to know.
But this requires a fundamental shift in mindset. You need to approach LinkedIn like the search engine it is so you get found. And get found the right way. Here are five common mistakes that prevent this from happening.
1. No Profile Picture
Whether you like professional headshots or not, they convey trust, and you need one on your LinkedIn profile. If you have no profile picture, potential clients will wonder if you’re a real person. If you can't be bothered to put up a picture, but other professionals do, what does it telegraph?
You may not like it, but clients are also going to prejudge the quality of your legal work by the quality of your picture. Save the poorly-lit smartphone selfies for Facebook, not LinkedIn. Just like your website, your LinkedIn profile picture should be clean, modern and current. If you have a professional headshot on your website, reuse the same picture on LinkedIn.
If you think your headshot is cheesy, get a better headshot. But don’t let your marketing suffer.
2. No Relevant, Searchable Keywords
Most lawyers clog their LinkedIn profiles with words that are all about themselves. Instead, use words that will attract your ideal client and your ideal referral partner. For example, you may be an estate planning attorney, but are those the words people will use when searching for the solution to their problem? Maybe. Might they use the word "Trusts?" Or "Inheritance?"
Remember, LinkedIn is a search engine, not a resume builder. Replace selfish words with words that matter to your target audience. The words they use, not the words you use.
3. No Post-Meeting Follow-Up
It happens far too often: You meet and exchange business cards with somebody in the real world – a potential client or referral partner – and then you never see or hear from that person again. Five years later, cleaning out a drawer, you find the business card. Who was that again? Hmmm. Oh, well. Another opportunity lost. But it doesn’t have to be that way. LinkedIn is a great place to reinforce real-world interactions with virtual connections. Tell this person that you plan to connect on LinkedIn. Then do it. Whether or not you like using online tools, they give you a natural (non-awkward) way to follow up and allows you to see that person’s connections. An easy way to continue a relationship started in person.
4. No Pre-Meeting Research
If you have a meeting or appointment scheduled, why go into the meeting cold? Use LinkedIn to learn about the person’s background, previous employers, who they know, and what causes they support. Start building a relationship by going into the meeting with a shared experience or interest, something you would never know ... but could find publicly on LinkedIn. Do your homework on LinkedIn and have an edge before your meeting even starts.
5. No Referral Cultivation
In our Practice Alchemy programs, we show attorneys how to clone their best referral sources. LinkedIn is an important part of that strategy. We have a step by step process so our members never make a mis-step, but at the highest level it's this: Identify the traits of your best referral source. See who is connected with whom. Then get introductions to "connections of connections" in a low-stress, non-salesy way. It will take a little thought on how to present it if you're figuring it out on your own, but it's absolutely worth it. Bottom line: if you’re not actively mining LinkedIn to build your referral network, you’re leaving a lot of referral money on the table. Because with it, you can double your referral sources using this "cloning" strategy.
LinkedIn is not a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it event. Too many attorneys set up a profile, ignore it, and expect LinkedIn leads to fall onto their laps. Or just forget it exists, and move on. LinkedIn needs to be an ongoing component of your business networking and prospecting strategy. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, but it does need to be used and maintained consistently.
Ready to build your Linkedin network the right way? Get our free Linkedin Network Expander Checklist.