There are a lot of lawyers on LinkedIn. A lot. In Toronto alone, a search results in 13,960 names!
Many have a profile, but don’t actually do anything on the site. Some show up once in a while, to ‘like’ a post or two and then sign off, not to be seen again for weeks. Few contribute original content on a regular basis.
The vast majority are still wondering what LinkedIn does for them.
Let’s try flipping that around. Instead of wondering what LinkedIn is doing for you, let’s figure out how to make LinkedIn work for you.
Start thinking of LinkedIn, less as a place to be seen, and more as a tool. A hammer is nice to have. But until you pick it up to knock in that nail to hang your new painting, it’s going to just sit there looking ‘pretty’.
Not very helpful.
Like your hammer, LinkedIn is simply a tool. Figure out how to use it and… you will benefit for years to come. Just sit back and wait for it to deliver and… you may be waiting a long, long time.
So, all that being said, how can you make LinkedIn work for you?
In November of 2019, my firm, Bekhor Management, teamed up with Toronto Lawyers Association to launch a group on LinkedIn”: “Keeping it Social: Practice development for lawyers TORONTO”. We’re going to use this group as a case study to take a closer look at six do’s and don’ts for lawyers on LinkedIn.
Do begin with clear objectives - PRO TIPS: Carefully consider who you are trying to reach. Referrers? Clients? Can you get specific about describing this audience? - CASE STUDY: When we were developing our group, we had to decide who to invite to join. We debated including lawyers, without geographic limitation, or, alternatively, all categories of professionals, with geographic limitation. Finally, we decided to focus on practicing lawyers and articling students in Toronto, rather than cast a wider net, professionally or geographically. To make this clear to others, we included the word ‘Toronto’ in the group name and spelled out these limitations in the group description and rules.
Do something different - PRO TIPS: If you want LinkedIn to do some heavy lifting for your marketing program, you’re going to have to do more than show up. You’ll even have to do more than post content every day. You’ll need to stand out. Otherwise, the fact is you won’t get noticed. If the average person has 500 connections on LinkedIn, their feed will be constantly flowing with news and updates. They won’t even see your news, unless they happen to be logging in just as you post it. That all changes, however, if you are able to generate interest in your content. Why is that a game changer? Interest from others makes your posts sticky. It keeps them hanging around at the top of the news feed longer. It also enables you to reach people not yet connected to you, by way of your network’s connections. - CASE STUDY: Our group has an offline component to it, one that offers value to its members. We meet quarterly for practice development tips and networking. The group uses social… to be social! That’s the difference.
Do develop original content - PRO TIPS: Find examples of individuals that you enjoy following on LinkedIn. What is it about their posts that pulls you in? Are they quick to share time sensitive news? Funny? Controversial? Profound? Whatever it is, you can bet it’s original and it draws on their natural strengths. - CASE STUDY: Given that our group meets quarterly, we have a constant pipeline of photos, slides and video. It’s a combination of education, stories and interaction with friends and colleagues.
Don’t focus on the short term - PRO TIPS: That’s not to say that if your strategy isn’t working to keep at it. Modify as needed. But don’t throw in the towel if LinkedIn doesn’t deliver immediate prospects into your pipeline. This is a networking site, not a sales funnel. Just like attending a networking event, your attention should be focused on relationship building. Results will organically follow, when everything is aligned, the right message to the right audience at the right time. - CASE STUDY: To set our group up for success over the long term, we have been actively promoting it using a number of channels: newsletters, other (related) LinkedIn groups, alternate social media platforms, media coverage and our professional networks.
Don’t stay on LinkedIn - PRO TIPS: Don’t even stay online! Use the site for its intended use. To make new connections and to stay top of mind with existing connections. You still need to talk to and meet with people to deepen your relationships. Social media will never replace the value of a face-to-face encounter (or even a face-to-zoom encounter!). - CASE STUDY: Our offline events help to keep the group’s sense of purpose alive. Engagement online is that much more animated and natural because of the promise of face-to-face meetings.
Don’t be shy - PRO TIPS: Extroverts, you know what to do! Introduce yourself to prospective clients, to potential referrers and influencers in your sector. Comment on other peoples’ posts. Share your news in groups. Start a video thread. Introverts, don’t talk yourself out of jumping in on the action. You have an advantage here. On social media you can take the time to carefully craft an introduction or a response, rather than being put on the spot. Employ your natural tendency to connect with others in a meaningful way. - CASE STUDY: We encourage new members to introduce themselves to the group when they first join. In fact, we invite everyone to tell us two things: one thing about their practice (i.e. niche, experience, a recent accomplishment…) and one thing about themselves (i.e. a favourite book, a recent trip, a hobby…).
That’s a nice list of rules to guide your activities on LinkedIn. But don’t be fooled. Success isn’t based on how well you can follow the rules. It’s about being bold!
So, as you reflect on how to make use of this list, consider this… to achieve something big, you also need to do something big!
You need a plan that does all this and more. A plan that pops from the digital noise. A plan that you can commit to over the long term. A plan aligned with your goals for your practice.
About the Author
Sandra Bekhor MBA, president of Bekhor Management, helps lawyers and other professionals build and enhance their practices, through marketing and management programs aligned with core strengths. Sandra has extensive experience helping small to mid-sized firms succeed in the modern marketplace. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.bekhor.ca