By Melissa “Rogo” Rogozinski
Thriving law firms around the globe share two common elements that bring them a steady stream of new clients and a stable core of repeat clients: a team of talented lawyers dedicated to achieving their clients’ goals, and a successful messaging strategy that associates the firm’s brand with quality services their clients need.
While many clients of long-established firms found their lawyers through traditional methods of networking, one of today’s most effective lead-producing marketing tools is literally at your fingertips: LinkedIn.
The LinkedIn platform is currently in a class of its own in its ability to allow professionals to find and connect with business owners and individuals who genuinely have an interest or need for their services.
The key to making LinkedIn a productive source of leads to actual clients is knowing how to make the best use of it and committing as little as fifteen or twenty minutes a day to check in, view, and respond to those connections and contacts who visited or reacted to your content or comments and consider if your services might help them in the future.
For those worried that their daily schedule is too busy to spend a few minutes on a professional networking platform, think about how much time is spent consulting in person or by phone with prospective clients who don’t hire the firm. Rarely are those consults limited to only a few minutes, and during that time, only one prospect is being attended to. On LinkedIn, you control the time you commit and your content and posts may be viewed by thousands.
LinkedIn Builds Professional Relationships, Not Just Connections
The difference between LinkedIn and other social media platforms is its focus on business, professional services, and professional development. Only those who are either looking for services or offering services participate.
Building Solid Client Leads on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a tool with which professionals “build” relationships with solid client leads. The mission is not to build relationships with everyone, but to focus on those who are likely to want the firm’s services and those who are in a position to make or influence the final hiring decision.
Consider who your target client is. Does the firm serve a particular industry, or concentrate its practice on solving certain problems, like business law, tax law, international trade, or bankruptcy? LinkedIn lets you filter your search for contacts according to location, job title, skill, and company. The page returned will include only those who fit your search criteria.
LinkedIn “Groups” enables a user to scan a list of LinkedIn groups and associations where people of shared interests can connect and communicate about matters of particular significance to their group. There are hundreds of groups to search through, from Small Charities and Groups (5.5k members), America’s Physician Group (1.7k members), Accounting Discussion Group (1.7k members), International Trade 2.0 - Import & Export (133k members), and hundreds more.
The next step in the relationship process involves establishing three important assets with others:
LinkedIn users can begin to establish credibility by ensuring their profile page includes only material that conveys the serious nature and quality of the services the firm provides. Think about engaging a professional photographer to create the best headshot or image to be used as the face of your firm. Another signal of credibility is a custom banner at the top of the profile page including an image communicating the firm’s identity, not merely in name but in purpose.
Litigators may use an image of an imposing court building; tax lawyers may use a photo including tax forms. The goal is to instantly inform the person who sees the profile page about the critical services at which the firm excels.
Credibility is not obtained by only constructing a professional profile page. What builds credibility is generating and sharing insightful, original content on the platform, in long-form articles, short posts containing immediately useful information relating to the area of law practiced by the firm, or even in posts with checklists that other users can download and refer to in conducting their own business.
In short, the currency that buys credibility is “content” that LinkedIn connections learn to trust, to value, and to which they will turn when in need of further help. Business law firms may choose to write a comprehensive article on how contract language can anticipate problems and insulate a company from costly losses in the event of a breach. In the world of law firm marketing in a digital society, “Content Is King.”
As with all commerce, the factor that turns a prospective client into a paying client is the fact that the services provided by the law firm are worth the price. A continuing message integrated into every LinkedIn post or other form of content is the fact that working with this particular law firm delivers the highest quality legal service the client needs to fully resolve their problem. If the initial engagement is successful, regardless of how weighty the matter was, the client is likely to return when other, more substantial issues arise.
Reach Out with Personal Follow-up
Searching through LinkedIn to focus on a target clientele, leveraging groups and other filters to isolate your ideal client population, will connect you with new businesspeople or potential consumers of the firm’s legal services. Do not rely on the default messages LinkedIn offers as invitations to connect. The purpose of the network is to connect, to find out about the other LinkedIn party, and learn if you have mutual business objectives.
LinkedIn analytics tools enable users to monitor the activity on their page, identify most of the visitors, and follow up with them to thank them for connecting and engaging. This is an opportunity to inquire if they have any questions.
No pressure should ever be applied. LinkedIn is not a hard-sell tool. Like any new relationship, courtesy, respect, and generosity are always worthwhile attitudes.
But note the potential client’s name, business, and contact information. Visit their LinkedIn profile and follow them if they seem promising. After the passage of time, a month or two, consider reaching out to them again.
Respond personally, though briefly. If the communications continue over time, consider taking the relationship offline. Even infrequent messaging with an individual about a shared interest, especially one in which the firm can be of service, will often ripen into a fee-generating attorney-client relationship.
Be Patient and Persistent
This process requires patience and persistence. LinkedIn will provide real clients after thoughtful and gently persistent attention. Navigating the platform becomes second nature with a little practice and education.
The value of LinkedIn is the filtering function that allows every user to dig down to the clients who meet the description of the perfect clients. Few, if any, other marketing techniques are available that can so effectively expose your firm’s services to those most likely to need them and most able to afford them.
Making LinkedIn Your Favorite Client Source: Free Training videos by RPC Strategies
About the Author Melissa “Rogo” Rogozinski is a former litigation paralegal, legal technology sales executive, guest speaker, CLE presenter and trainer, entrepreneur, and a 2016 ACEDS eDiscovery Person of the Year Nominee. She is a regular contributor to LegalTech News, Law Journal Newsletters and Legal Business World.
At RPC Strategies, she leads a “Dream Team” of consultants who specialize in legal marketing and sales strategies for law firms and legal tech vendors.