Apparently, this is the week for excellent webinars, because I had the privilege of attending another amazing one this afternoon. The LMA’s Social Media Shared Interest Group offered LinkedIn 2.0: Efficient Strategies for Busy Lawyers, featuring presenters David Ackert (@DavidAckert) of The Ackert Advisory and Jonathan Fitzgarrald (@JRFitzgarrald) of Greenberg Glusker, moderated by our own Nancy Myrland (@nancymyrland) of Myrland Marketing & Social Media.
Before I get into the meat of the session (and boy, was it meaty!), I want to make sure to note that if you’d like to join the Legal Marketing Association, you can take a look at the options and categories for membership over here.
And if you’re already a member of the LMA, and want to join the Social Media SIG (we’re cool, I promise!), you can join through the LMA website here. LMA members can also join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups (whether or not you officially belong to the SIG).
The session covered a tremendous amount of content, and I think we’ll be discussing much of this in the coming days, as well as doing a post-webinar session to get to all of the questions that came through. I’m breaking this up into a couple of posts, because otherwise, they’d be long, even by my standards! Nancy shared the agenda with us to start off with, so we’d know what to expect.
- LinkedIn objectives
- Networking strategy
- Search strategy
- Daily plan of attack
- Maximizing your profile
- Metrics and ROI
- Content creation & distribution
- Attitude and approach
LinkedIn: What is your objective?
David took the reins for the first part of the presentation, beginning by emphasizing the importance of identifying your objective for using LinkedIn, in order to be successful with it.
Some of the possible objectives that a lawyer might have include (but are not limited to):
- Target prospects & referral sources – to develop a deep network
- Fulfill the needs of clients and their influencers – to benefit your client network
- To be sought out for a niche practice area or specialty – to develop a broad network (LION – LinkedIn Open Networker)
So how can marketers support their attorneys in identifying what their objective is? Ask them! Find out what they want to get out of LinkedIn – but don’t accept "I want to get more clients" as an answer. Identify what that will really look like.
Jonathan added that for some attorneys, their objective will be to "listen" to what their clients and prospects are doing. From a coaching perspective, most marketers want their attorneys to be more active in terms of posting content and interacting, but there are a lot of professionals who are "active" by listening – and that’s better than just being a dormant user.
David agreed, and mentioned that there are basically three types of LinkedIn users – dormant, researchers, and engagers.
Identify your network strategy
Once you have a clear objective in place, this will inform your strategy.
Objective: Deep Network
If you want a deep network, you should only accept invitations from people that you know well, and would be willing to ask for an introduction. If you want to identify key prospects on LinkedIn, then use it to start a dialogue with them, and hopefully eventually be engaged by them, it is important that when you identify your connection to those prospects that the relationship with your connection is a good one. Then, you would feel comfortable asking for the introduction. Your goal here is not to have a huge network, but to have a good one.
Objective: Client Network
If your goal is to seek out opportunities for your clients through your LinkedIn network, then you want to foster connections with your clients’ strategic allies. You should know what your clients consider to be real opportunities for them, so you also should understand what their needs are. As lawyers, you should be asking these questions of your clients (and then use the answers to find the right LinkedIn connections), and as marketers, we should be encouraging our attorneys to ask these questions.
Objective: Broad Network
If your goal is to have a broad network, then you will be accepting invitations from anyone who might have access to relevant business opportunities, especially other LION members. Perhaps you want to be found by people searching on LinkedIn – LinkedIn is another search engine, but it happens to search people. So you want to have as broad a network as possible, so that people are able to find you when they do these searches. The best strategy to reach this objective then is to accept invitations from almost anyone.
The key here is that it’s important to shape your thinking – what are you trying to accomplish, and how will you use LinkedIn to accomplish it? David acknowledged that without identifying those things, LinkedIn can be a huge time suck. We’ve heard this as a criticism from lawyers many times, because they don’t have an objective to frame their time on the site. So we want to dispel the notion that it’s a waste of time, or just a place to keep yourself busy without real results. If you want results, you have to approach it with a results-oriented mindset.
To delegate or not to delegate?
Along these lines, Jonathan added, delegating your social media to a subordinate or someone else is not a strategy. While there are some things that can be delegated, social media is really about building relationships, and you wouldn’t ask someone else to do that for you.
David noted that he appreciates the confusion – LinkedIn is a website, and don’t we delegate all of that to our marketing team? But Jonathan’s point is well-articulated – ultimately, while some of the mechanics could be delegates (uploading headshots, profile updates), at the end of the day, it is social NETWORKING, and you can’t delegate networking. The same principles that are true in face to face networking are true in online networking.
Nancy suggested that for the marketers, if they’re pressed by an attorney to handle their social media for them, they should draw a line in the sand, and tell them that they shouldn’t be on the platform if they want to manage their account that way – it’s that important.
Jonathan agreed, but also cautioned that it depends on the situation (and on the objective) – he told the story of a very senior attorney at his firm who is uncomfortable with computers, but wanted the marketing department to create a LinkedIn profile for him, just so that he wouldn’t appear old. They were happy to do that, but he added that they also don’t expect him to develop business from it. The process was worth it just to help the attorney to feel up-to-date.
Someone later asked what the presenters would recommend delegating. Jonathan answered that for him, it’s all about the approach. If he has an attorney who says they want to get on LinkedIn and asks what the marketing department can do for him, he’ll tell the attorney that they should schedule 15-20 minutes to walk through the process of setting up a profile together, so that the attorney can familiarize himself or herself with the technology.
He’s never had anyone tell him no. So he or one of his colleagues will sit with the attorney, walk them through LinkedIn’s profile tutorial to help them understand the elements of a profile and what each piece means. Then, once it’s set up, he’ll talk to them (either in that meeting or a future one) about best practices for reaching out to contacts or accepting contacts, best practices in search, how to best use LinkedIn when you’re traveling, how often you should post, etc. At the end, as little as possible has been delegated, and he’s taught the attorney how to "fish" on LinkedIn.
Jonathan added that he might set up an attorney’s profile if they’re adamant about not doing it themselves, but otherwise there’s not a lot he’d agree to do for them. It’s social networking, and they have to be a participant in that.
Define your search strategy
David said that once you have your objective and your strategy, you can also define your search strategy. Yes, LinkedIn can be used to keep track of people, but if you want to use it as a prospecting tool and do something proactive with the results, here are what some search strategies might look like:
- Search keywords for your prospects: This might be things such as "general counsel, technology." Use the advanced search, so that you can filter the results the way you would like. From this, you’ll get a list of your first, second and third tier results (you’ll most likely want to eliminate the third tier right off the bat, because they won’t be useful to you).
Not all of the results will be on point – you may find that there’s a someone who used to be a general counsel, but isn’t now, or someone who used to do technology work, but drifted out of the sector. It may not be your final shortlist, but there are some valuable people on there once you do some filtering.
On this list, you may see a first level connection who you know well – and that person is linked to a second tier connection that you want to know better. At this point, David advises getting off of LinkedIn and making a phone call to your first level connection to ask for the introduction. Get a sense of how well your contact know the other person, and how would be the best way to be introduced – maybe the three of you have lunch, or there’s some information you could send over that would be valuable.
When you put some thought into this, you have the intelligence that will make this effort worthwhile. But don’t forget the offline aspects of networking here – having a good old-fashioned conversation over the phone will get you further than making an electronic request.
- Search job opportunities: If you’re looking to be more client-centric, maybe you search for job opportunities. For example, search for "corporate counsel" and click on jobs instead of people. Perhaps there’s a first tier connection in your list that you know well, and you know that she’s been looking to switch companies or is in between jobs.
If you find something that might be suitable and it turns out that you have a close connection with someone at the company, you can reach out to her and ask if she’d like you to find out more, or to help her set up an interview. That’s a value-add for a prospective or current client – you may be responsible for them getting their next job. And how much more likely is that person to call you up to do work for them if you’ve already helped them in this way?
Most people approach LinkedIn with the mindset of "what can I get out of this?" but it can also be a great platform for helping others as well.
Daily Plan of Attack
Like any business development activity, LinkedIn should be part of your regular routine. You can’t just do it when you’re supposedly "not busy" – lawyers are always busy. Make it part of your routine.
- Because this is a numbers game, and…
- Search results will vary over time: even if you don’t add connections, your connections will add connections. Make sure to mine the full value by checking in regularly.
So lawyers (and marketers) should ask themselves – what do I think is a reasonable recurring LinkedIn activity? It can be things like:
- Searching for contacts
- Searching for opportunities
- Posting to discussion groups
Identify what’s feasible for you, and then do that regularly.
Jonathan said you almost want to go to the extreme of blocking it out on your calendar to check LinkedIn. He’s found that what works for him is to check his social media before he even gets out of bed in the morning, because he can be totally focused on it with no distractions. It’s become part of his routine. Some people may check in while they’re in a waiting room or sitting in traffic, but if you’re not giving it your full attention, the results will be less and less effective.
David added that he knows some lawyers who make LinkedIn their browser home page (I always advise this). With LinkedIn putting more and more news and current events on their website, it’s becoming a more viable home page.
Maximizing your profile
There are a few keys that David advised for maximizing your profile:
- Make sure it’s 100% complete: otherwise, you’re sending the message that you don’t care, you don’t understand it, or you don’t have the expertise you claim to.
- If you have a specialty, underscore it in the description: you want to make sure you’re showing up in search for the areas that you specialize in.
- Add multimedia to your profile: So few firms and attorneys are doing this that it will really differentiate you.
- Slideshare or videos of presentations provide a sense of your expertise
- Studies show that multimedia increased the amount of time spent on a webpage by a factor of 4+
- Multimedia-enriched profiles are still underutilized – take advantage of this feature before your competitors do
Nancy added that text copy can look really dry, so adding rich media will help your expertise pop out to people that visit your profile. Jonathan commented that ultimately, your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of your personal brand. If you’re being positioned as an expert in a certain area, and that’s not properly reflected in your profile, that can send up a red flag.
To those attorneys who might say, "none of my current clients came from LinkedIn!" Jonathan answers that you’ll never know who came to your profile and didn’t call you as a result of what they saw or didn’t see – so play it safe, fill out your profile, and keep it up to date. Also, have a headshot that was taken in the last 18 months.
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you a special Friday post, with the second half of this excellent session. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments about any of the points made above, please feel free to add them in the comments, and I’ll share them with the presenters!