There is no question that LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that can potentially turn online connections into real-world clients. That won’t happen overnight, however, and those efforts will only thrive with proper care, maintenance and pruning.
Writing Your LinkedIn Profile
Most likely you already have a basic profile, but one of the biggest obstacles lawyers face is distinguishing themselves online. Bios sound the same from one attorney to the next, and, while they might showcase a long list of achievements, they often don’t say much about the person and how he or she is a problem solver. It’s important to remember that your profile is your front door to the world. Spruce it up, and lay out the welcome mat.
Need some tips when writing your LinkedIn profile? To reach influencers, gain a following and develop a reputation as someone “in the know,” use actionable language, and try to be more lively and specific. Identifying clearly how you provide a solution will make it infinitely easier for potential clients to understand what you do and why you are the perfect fit for their job. If you think revising your online profile will easily drop to the bottom of your “to do” list, schedule it on your calendar.
Blogging on LinkedIn
With a progressive profile in place, you’re now ready to harness the power of LinkedIn. In addition to providing opportunities for connecting with colleagues, friends, and potential prospects; joining groups; and posting, LinkedIn has recently unveiled a new publishing platform. It was designed to provide users with a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, blogging tool. For those who work at law firms that do not have blogging resources, or if you want to prove the viability of a blog before adding it to your law firm website, using LinkedIn publishing is a good option.
To help you use the blogging platform, LinkedIn provides a built-in template that comes up when you click on the orange “Publish a post” icon at your home screen. From there, it is easy to add a photo, draft an engaging headline, drop in the text and click Publish.
Blog posting through LinkedIn allows you to share quality content on a regular basis with a built-in audience and group of followers. You can share posts with specific groups or individual connections. Another bonus of the LinkedIn blogging tool is that the pages encourage two-way conversation and discussion. Each post is equipped with social-sharing buttons, so it’s easy for other users to share, like, repost and retweet across all social networking platforms. Unlike cumbersome email campaigns or formal alerts, you can easily point and click your way to becoming a thought-leader on specific topic. And, the tool catalogs all your posts in one area for easy reference.
LinkedIn Blogging Best Practices
Successful bloggers publish at least twice a month, and more frequently to accommodate new developments or interesting news. Content should be relevant, entertaining, engaging and brief. It should include a call to action. If at all possible, it should tell a story. But most importantly, you should write about topics that affect your clients and help to position you as a valuable resource.
In fact, according to Bloomberg’s Big Law Business Report, there seems to be a sea change among in-house counsel about how to handle client development. Fancy dinners and tickets to sporting events might be nice, but it’s also important to show that you have your finger on the pulse of the market and are watching (and can report on) trends. Blogging ticks this box.
It is also important to note that, as lawyers become more and more proficient on LinkedIn, they also need to be aware of the various state bar rules. While the ABA has not yet published comprehensive guidelines on social media usage, some state bars have, including New York.
In fact, in March 2015, the New York County Lawyers Association Professional Ethics Committee released an opinion recommending that attorneys in New York with LinkedIn profiles that include information about their practice areas, skills, endorsements or recommendations – essentially, anything more than the straightforward biographical information in their profiles – should now include attorney advertising statements at the end of the “Summary” section of their LinkedIn profiles, similar to “Attorney Advertising – Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”
While this doesn’t mean that LinkedIn should be abandoned as a powerful networking tool, it just will require that attorneys periodically monitor and review the content of their LinkedIn profiles for accuracy and compliance with bar guidelines.
The Confluence of Content and Social Media
Lawyers and legal marketers seem to have an ever-growing number of marketing tools and tactics at their disposal. Technology has provided us with a number of new avenues to reach our desired audiences, but just using these channels is not enough. They have to be leveraged strategically.
Lawyers should take the time to populate their LinkedIn profiles with quality information that positively reflects their personal brands. They should also make it a habit to continually update their profiles to capture recent successes, promotions, organizational affiliations, pro bono activities and published articles. Finally, with the LinkedIn publishing tool, lawyers can maximize the benefits of the social network by crafting and distributing relevant thought leadership materials to a targeted audience of engaged professionals.