“I have a LinkedIn. But I don’t know where it is.”
- Actual quote from a law firm senior partner.
I hear variations of this quote all the time.
Lawyers are struggling with social media; they’re always asking me about it, how it works, and whether lawyers need it.
Lawyers who don't understand LinkedIn proclaim they don't need it.
I've presented dozens of social media training programs for lawyers and marketers; it's been among the hottest marketing-training and retreat topics for the past few years. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the recent queries involve attorneys using LinkedIn.
There's significant misinformation regarding LinkedIn and whether lawyers need it. In my experience, most business-oriented lawyers aren't going to be trolling around LinkedIn, sorting their lists, identifying second-degree friend-of-friend connections, and looking to generate hot new leads. Not that they can't or shouldn't, but c'mon, readers of this blog know that most lawyers won't. And they're also not going to regularly write Pulse articles or post LinkedIn updates.
Most lawyers aren't going to be LinkedIn Power Users.
And that's absolutely fine.
When Social Media was just gaining steam, a variety of highly visible marketing consultants were selling the idea that everyone needed a LinkedIn profile. Many self-anointed "LinkedIn experts" generated a nice, steady income charging firms to set up profiles for all of the firms' lawyers.
That sounded good in theory, however it yielded the entirely predictable result -- empty lawyer Profiles devoid of personality or useful information, and very few personal connections. I think that makes you look silly, like a technology amateur dabbling in something you don't really understand because someone told you you were supposed to. I don't think that's the image you should be cultivating, more on this below.
Here's why all lawyers need credible LinkedIn profiles:
These days, most prospects who are interested in hiring a lawyer will visit both the lawyer's (1) website to read his/her biography, and (2) LinkedIn profile to obtain additional information, including e.g. identifying who they know in common.
This means that at a particularly critical time in our clients' buying process, when they're considering adding you to the short list, you can use LinkedIn to shape your story in a way that creates a positive impression.
Or you can entirely fail to.
Some argue it’s better to have an empty profile than no profile at all.
This might be a subject of legitimate debate, but I think that in a 21st-century economy you can’t completely ignore technology. (Not to mention a lawyer's ethical duty to maintain a minimum level of technological competence.) Personally, if you’re going to ignore LinkedIn, I think it’s better to look like you’re (1) too busy to need it rather than (2) too ineffectual to use it correctly.
That is, in my opinion, if you're committed to sucking, it's better to have no profile and keep prospects wondering about your technophobia, rather than have a terrible one that removes all doubt.
LinkedIn can help older lawyers show they're still in the game.
The good news is that once you have a credible LinkedIn profile, it's a marketing tool that lingers. It sits online near the top of the first page for every single Google search for your name, 24/7/365, just waiting patiently to tell interested prospects your story.
Yes, setting up a credible LinkedIn attorney profile can require a fairly sizable upfront time commitment. But it's worth it. And you can get help. There are plenty of legitimate legal marketing consultants and writers who can help. I've written my share of bold lawyer Summaries. For a couple examples, click here and here. Here's a bio I wrote for one of the nation's top big-case insurance-defense trial lawyers. I wanted to be bold, to lead with his remarkable trial record, without seeming to brag about it.
Here's the opening of an especially bold LinkedIn lawyer Summary:
Working LinkedIn like a lead-generating salesperson requires a level of savvy and effort that is beyond the skills and needs of most attorneys -- although some tech-savvy lawyers looking to ramp up their business-development efforts are showing positive results (more on that some other time). Let's start with the basics, the bare minimum for lawyers looking to dip their toes into LinkedIn.
Here's another senior lawyer LinkedIn Summary I like:
It tells the story of one of the nation's top trial lawyers, a good friend, who I felt had an opportunity to not just brag about his remarkable skills and win-loss record in massive jury trials, but also show his friendly, low-ego personality. He has also found that people find his Maltese background to be interesting, and he uses it as a hook in getting remembered. Here is how we started it his LinkedIn Summary:
What should you do? Here’s the first step:
Go to LinkedIn.com. In the box, search for your name. Analyze what shows up.
Do you have two or three different half-empty profiles from when you worked at different firms? I'd estimate that 20-25% of lawyers unknowingly have multiple profiles. (Or they know, they just can't figure out how to eliminate them.)
Act like a prospect who is looking for more info about you. Click on your name. What are the results? Are you proud of it? Does it showcase you as a high-quality professional? Or do you have an empty shell with “1 connection”? That is, “1 [sad, pathetic] connection.” That’s the one free connection you get for doing basically nothing.
A half-filled profile makes prospects wonder if you're obsolete.
Filling out a basic profile is something you can do over lunch. At minimum, paste your biography into the narrative Experience and Summary sections. Include a professional-looking photo and basic contact information. You want to make it easy for prospects to find you, so help them. Now go back over the narratives and try to infuse a bit more of your personality into them than your firm's staid, formulaic website bio.
LinkedIn profiles are easy to fill out, so take some time and do it. Begin inviting clients, friends, peers, former classmates, and contacts to add more Connections. The loose rule is that you should have roughly 10x your age, i.e. a 30-year-old should have ~300 connections. (The system shows a maximum of "500+" connections.)
If you don’t have a marketing department, or don't want to ask them, call me directly and I’ll walk you through it -- it’d be my way of saying “thanks for reading.”
Need LinkedIn training for your lawyers? Call Ross for a quote.
Here's a link to a speaker video.