Social media is in abundance in 2021, with a new platform always around the corner. Twitter, Slack, Facebook, Instagram…the list goes on. As lawyers, who also need to build business, many of those platforms may be home to your audience – it’s surely worth exploring. That said, regardless of which of those platforms you find useful, an active presence on LinkedIn is critical for most practices to meaningfully scale. LinkedIn is responsible for 80% of all B2B social media leads. That statistic alone tells us that, especially for most revenue generators, it is where we should be.
An active presence on LinkedIn has many pillars, which include building a profile, growing an audience and engaging in various ways. LinkedIn is a platform on which you can build and display your brand on an evolving basis. But first, you have to show up.
Creating a Meaningful LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile should be individual, detailed and engaging. Below are the categories on which you should focus.
Include a professional-looking, updated photograph within your LinkedIn profile. If you have a professional headshot, use that. If not, dress appropriately, find a clean background and have a friend or family member take your picture. Photographs with a friend cut out, or no photograph at all, creates a poor first impression. Also, outdated photographs make for uncomfortable first meetings.
The Headline on your profile is the first thing displayed (along with your photograph) in response to a LinkedIn search. As such, your headline should be intriguing, yet concise. Solely listing your professional title – “Litigator” or “Partner at X Law Firm” – does not tell your audience anything that would entice them to engage with you. Travel around LinkedIn and review others’ headlines to get ideas and then create a headline unique to you. Also, consider adding a personal touch if it seems appropriate. If you are an aspiring painter or an expert skier, sharing such qualities enable an audience to learn more about you.
The About section is your pitch! It should be written in first person and should provide your audience with a peek behind the curtain. Consider sharing details on why you do the work you do, how you enjoy your free time and any interesting skills and talents you may have. The stage is yours.
The Featured section of LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to “pin” items so that they appear at the top of your profile. This might include posts, articles and anything else you’d like to highlight as important for those viewing your profile.
List your Experience in reverse chronological order. Ensure that the dates are correct and that your current employment does not display an end date. In describing each specific experience, be sure to include a bit about the company and more detail about your role at the company. Also include the logo of the company so that those scanning your profile can quickly recognize any logos.
Your Education should also be listed in reverse chronological order, and logos should be added to depict the university. In addition, include any awards that you received while in school to display your achievements.
There are a variety of choices in the Accomplishments drop down menu provided by LinkedIn. Use this section as an opportunity to showcase you’re the various things that you achieved during your career thus far.
Licenses & Certifications; Volunteer Experience
Your Licenses, Certifications and Volunteer Experiences should all be listed on LinkedIn. Attempt to avoid trying to determine if they are applicable to your current career or role. Rather, realize that you are painting a detailed picture of who you are and the road you traveled. LinkedIn is a marketing tool, however, not a disclosure document, so you can decide what to include and what to leave off.
Building an Audience
Once you create a solid profile, you want an audience! As an initial goal, aim for 501 LinkedIn connections. 501 is the number that LinkedIn picked at which it no longer displays the actual number of member connections. Instead, it states “500+ connections.” 500+ has become representative of a basic level of LinkedIn engagement. Even if only for optics, that’s where you want to be.
Build your audience strategically and intentionally. Start by ensuring that you are connected with all those currently in your world – colleagues, facilitators, law school classmates, friends, etc. Then, spend the time to think back, and then actively work your way forward.
Once you have built your baseline of connections, use LinkedIn as a rolodex to help you remember who meet along the way. Connecting shortly after you meet someone new avoids the need to remind them how you met and, instead, enables you to continue building your relationship. Consider new clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel (when appropriate), conference panelists and so on. Connecting on LinkedIn is an easy first step in continuing to build your relationship.
Create flexible rules as to which invitations you want to send and which you want to accept. If you can’t determine how the relationship would be beneficial or if you can determine it and it’s not appealing, then perhaps it’s not a connection worth making. Putting a general rule in place enables you to serve as a self-imposed gatekeeper, so you can build a useful network that you want without a lot of noise. Of course, give yourself permission to break your rules when you determine it’s appropriate. It’s worth noting that if you decide to cleanse your network at some point and disconnect with certain people, they will not be notified.
When you connect on LinkedIn, use the “Add a message” feature to connect the dots for the person to whom you’re reaching out. Did you meet somewhere? Did you read an article they wrote? Did you work together years ago? You want to make it easy for them to recall how you know one another.
Engaging in Meaningful Ways
Once you have a profile and an audience, the opportunity truly begins! How you show up and engage on LinkedIn is tied to your brand and helps you earn your reputation. LinkedIn is a marketing tool that provides us with broad access. It serves us well to be thoughtful about how we engage.
Working the Algorithm
Creating certain habits and being mindful of the LinkedIn algorithm will assist in successfully navigating the platform. Further to this, consider:
- Posting two to three times per week on LinkedIn is ideal.
- Tuesday through Friday are the most favorable days to post. Weekend posts attract a different audience than weekday posts but, depending on your content, may be a good time for you.
- There is no “best” time of day to post. Given the global nature of LinkedIn, it is a 24-hour machine.
- Conversation threads on posts dramatically increase LinkedIn traffic and tell LinkedIn that a certain conversation is interesting. LinkedIn, accordingly, boosts that conversation to drive more people to see it in their feeds.
- Hashtags are powerful if they have a large following. They make your content more discoverable because they enable you to have a farther reach outside your direct network.
- Any time you want to link to content outside of LinkedIn, state “Link in comments” in your post, and share the link in the first comment. LinkedIn does not want you driving traffic off their site so if you include a link in your post itself, they will not share the post widely.
How to Engage
There are multiple ways to engage on LinkedIn. Creating your own content and your own posts is of the highest value on the platform. With each post, adding a picture also helps to increase your traffic. If you start to monitor your analytics, over time, you will notice trends and will likely adjust your engagement accordingly.
You can also engage through “Likes” “Comments” and “Shares.” Of the three, Comments are the most meaningful form of engagement as they show the highest level of interest. Since LinkedIn values fresh content if you are inclined to share someone else’s content, you are best suited to annotate and credit them, state “Link in the comments” and, again, share the link to their content in the first comment. Simply sharing other people’s content does little for them and little for you.
LinkedIn groups are a powerful feature of the platform. They are specific to practice areas and topics and give you access to people and content focused on what interests you. In addition, groups provide a targeted audience. In order for any of your groups to see what you are sharing, assuming the members are not otherwise connected to you, you must post directly into the group.
The power and reach of LinkedIn is dramatic and provides an amazing opportunity to scale. Be patient and build your presence. When you start to lean in, you will realize the power of its reach and, for purposes of scaling your legal practice, the various ways that you can leverage the LinkedIn platform.