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“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 comment every week.

Many lawyers struggle with social media; they’re always asking me about it, how it works, and whether they need it.

Lawyers who don’t understand LinkedIn often proclaim that they don’t need it.linkedin-icon-logo

“I have a referral practice. My clients aren’t looking for their lawyers on LinkedIn,” they often say. OK, fair point. But even if that were true, that doesn’t mean you still don’t need a killer LinkedIn profile.

I’ve presented 100+ social media training programs for lawyers and marketers; it’s been among the hottest marketing-training and retreat topics for at least the past five years.  Not surprisingly, the bulk of the recent queries involve how and why attorneys should use LinkedIn.

There’s significant misinformation regarding the value of LinkedIn.  Most business lawyers I know won’t be actively trolling around LinkedIn, sorting their Premium 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 particularly today, when everyone’s so darn busy, they’re also not going to take the time to regularly write articles or post LinkedIn Status 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 read both the lawyer’s (1)  website biography and (2) LinkedIn profile to obtain additional information, e.g. identifying who they know in common.

This means that at a particularly critical time in our clients’ buying process, i.e. when they’re considering adding you to the shortlist, 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 “About” sections (i.e. the summary at the top, below the heading section). For a few of my favorite examples, click here, here, and here.

Here’s a good opening of a LinkedIn “About” section:

Here’s part of the bio I wrote for one of the nation’s top big-case insurance-defense trial lawyers. I wanted him to be bold, to lead with his remarkable trial record, without seeming to brag too much about it:

[More on him in Part II juxtaposed against lawyers with totally different stories.]

Working LinkedIn like a lead-generating IBM 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 “About” section. It’s the vital narrative part for lawyers who want to get the marketing benefit of LinkedIn without investing too much time.

That’s the end of Part One. Click here for Part Two.


Need LinkedIn training for your lawyers? Call Ross now for a quote on one of his popular programs!

Here’s a link to a speaker video.