Bad news everyone.
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to LinkedIn. Or, for that matter, any business development or marketing tool.
There’s only strategy and hard work.
Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Are there instances where you’ll connect with someone and they’ll immediately buy your services or you’ll write a post and it will go viral? Absolutely! That’s down to luck (and sometimes, strategy and hard work behind the scenes). But it’s not because there’s some trick to it all. You’re not going to suddenly “figure it all out” and have one tool be doing all the work for you and bringing you lots and lots of clients. It doesn’t work like that.
Does that mean LinkedIn ISN’T a great tool? No.
Like any other tool, it’s all in how you use it.
The last time we chatted, I talked about how I’m fed up with all of these posts where people are treating lawyers like babies who don’t understand how to use social media. I’ve been talking about LinkedIn for 15 years now and if you don’t have a basic understanding of what you’re doing over there, it’s not the tool for you, and I’m not the one to convince you (also, you’re probably not into reading blogs either).
But at this point, let’s be honest. There’s got to be something more out there for you than another list of tips that include things like “comment on your connections’ posts!” and “like articles that people are sharing!” right?
So let’s talk about THOSE tips.
Recently, I was speaking with my friend, Katherine, who recently left the legal industry, but is a social marketing maven. This is a topic that’s near and dear to her heart, so she’s an expert in it. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so I want to make sure to mention that Katherine suggested several of these tips herself and that our conversation helped me develop my own recommendations.
We both agreed that social media, particularly these days, is about gathering intel – this has been particularly frustrating for me to try to communicate over the past few years because many people have viewed it only as a time suck. But when you consider how many people and companies use these tools and how much information is available to you, it’s a real treasure trove. You can gather information on your current clients, potential clients, and even the individuals that you will be meeting with (virtually or in-person). Yes, it sounds like you’re being a stalker, but frankly, it’s good due diligence and what you DO with the intel is the important part.
So what kinds of things can you do with that intel?
- Issue-spotting: are there patterns you’re noticing over time with a particular company that alert you to legal issues that you can reach out to your contact there about? This is a great opportunity in two ways – first, it means you can make a phone call that shows that you care about your relationship with that company enough to see what might be affecting their business that you can help them with. Secondly, if it’s a broad enough issue that you think may be affecting other companies like them, you could write an article, put together a webinar, or call other similar companies about the same issue (or all of the above!) which will put you on the radar for other clients and potential clients as being proactive.
- Feedback: This is a subset of issue-spotting, but it involves searching the client’s name as well as keeping tabs on the things that people are posting on their pages and the conversations or responses that they may be having with clients/customers. It’s one thing to see what your clients are posting directly and using that to spot the issues and patterns that are arising, but we’ve also all seen viral tweets or what happens when a company is ignoring a lot of bad reviews. Are you helping your clients get ahead of those things by keeping an eye on their mentions and interactions?
- Be a Connector: Let’s say that a client or potential client opens a new office in another city. Previously, it may have been suggested to you to either “like” that post or comment your congratulations – at the most, reach out privately and send your congrats. But let’s talk about what would really be beneficial – as long as it’s a city that you have some familiarity with, there are a couple of things you can do. First, make some recommendations for the neighborhood that the office is in, like a great restaurant or a coffee shop. Consider sending a gift certificate or offer to take a couple of people out the next time you’re in town (or if that is your town, do it soon to celebrate). Next, and even more importantly, review your own LinkedIn contacts in that city – LinkedIn makes this SUPER easy – and see who you can connect people in that office with. Obviously, the connections should make sense on both sides, but there is always a benefit to introducing key people in your networks to each other. When you make the introductions, ensure that you’re sharing the reason for the intros and bonus points if you take both people out to lunch.
- Interact: Okay, okay. You DO actually have to interact with people on LinkedIn – this is because the algorithm favors it. The more you interact with someone, the more they show up in your feed and the more you show up in THEIRS. So if there are certain clients or potential clients that you would like to stay top of mind for, you need to be intentional about engaging with their LinkedIn content. This isn’t a time suck – it’s strategy. If you need to visit their page for a couple of weeks to ensure that you’re seeing what they post versus what’s normally in your timeline, then do it. (Note, you may need to turn off the feature that will show them that you’re visiting their profile, which also takes away your ability to see who has visited yours). When you ARE intentional about your LinkedIn interactions, the algorithm will reward you and you’ll also be conscious of the time you’re spending on the platform, which makes it more strategic.
You’ll notice that in almost all of the above suggestions, you’re not spending very much time using the tools at all. The main idea here is to take the intel that you get from the tools to get you off of social media and interacting with your clients and potential clients – either through the phone or in person. That’s always the goal of business development – move from the tool to in-person engagement.
What other lessons have you learned to supercharge your use of these tools?