Using LinkedIn is a lot like any other business development activity. If you don’t know what your goal is, and plan a strategy for achieving it, you won’t accomplish much. At last month’s Legal Marketing Technology Conference West, David Ackert of Practice Boomers had excellent advice on the importance of prioritizing goals and sticking to a strategy when using LinkedIn.
How Can LinkedIn Help You the Most?
Here are four goals to consider — along with Ackert’s strategies to help you reach them. Note: Ackert stressed that choosing all four of these goals is not a good idea. Prioritize and commit to just one goal to start before you move on to tackle the next.
Goal 1: Target Potential Clients
If your goal is to identify potential clients and referral sources on LinkedIn, Ackert recommends these strategies:
- Use the search bar and advanced search features that LinkedIn offers. If you want to connect to someone in a particular industry who might need an attorney with your expertise, search by industry and see if you have any first- or second-tier connections in companies you think would be interested in using your services.
- More often than not, you will probably have a first-tier connection to the person you identified. If you do, pick up the phone and ask that first-tier connection for an introduction to the person you are ultimately looking to reach. Provide the context for why you are asking for the introduction.
- When trying to connect with someone, LinkedIn offers a field for you to include a personal note. Use this field to let the person know why you want to connect and include a call to action. For example, “I am working on a blog you might be interested in subscribing to. Please contact me if you have topic ideas or would like to contribute.”
- Tired of seeing those LinkedIn alerts (work anniversaries, new jobs and so on)? Instead of ignoring them, when you see an alert about someone who might be a potential client or referral source, call the person to convey congratulations and rekindle your professional connection.
- When sending email to a prospect, use LinkedIn’s InMail instead of your email provider. (According to Ackert, InMail is 30 percent more likely to be opened than regular email.)
- When you are notified that someone has looked at your profile, take that opportunity to send that person an InMail and ask if you can help them with something — perhaps they need an attorney in your practice area?
Goal 2: Attract Opportunities
If your goal in using LinkedIn is to attract opportunities to your niche practice area, here are ideas to get you started:
- Join LinkedIn groups that align with your areas of interest. Participation in groups is three times more likely to drive relevant traffic to your profile.
- Once people are on your profile, make sure key points stand out. One of the ways to do that is to include multimedia like SlideShare or videos of presentations you have given. This will further brand you as an expert in your practice area.
- Start your own LinkedIn group to attract appropriate connections for dialogue and follow up.
Goal 3: Broadcast Yourself
If your goal is to get your name out to an extended network, focus on these strategies:
- Use your LinkedIn status updates to post relevant blog articles, announcements, press releases, or alerts to your connections.
- Drive attention to your content by posting it to LinkedIn groups that you are a member of and ask questions to accompany the posts to start a dialogue.
Goal 4: Think Client Service
If your goal on LinkedIn is solely to focus on existing clients and people who are already engaging with you — online and offline — follow these strategies:
- This first step might be obvious, but make sure you connect with all of your clients on LinkedIn.
- Match content and connections to their needs. Ask questions such as, “What is keeping you up at night?” If connections need to know about a new law and how it will affect their business, find information for them or refer them to another attorney in your network.
- Are your clients looking to hire a lawyer in areas outside your expertise? One way to find out is to do a job search using the client’s company name as a filter. If they are looking, pick up the phone and call your client. Recommend an attorney in your network.
Sayre Happich is Assistant Director of Communications and Social Media Manager at The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF), where she has been since 2004. Sayre manages the BASF’s website, monthly newspaper, bimonthly e-newsletters and public relations efforts. She also heads up the organization’s social media efforts, @SFbar.