LinkedIn is the ultimate in professional social networking. Any legal firms who want to be seen as experts, thought leaders and ahead of the game in their industry, are going to feel the benefit of being present on LinkedIn.
The only thing is, not everyone knows how to make LinkedIn work for them, or even where to start.
If this applies to you, then I am here to help. I have created a 3-month plan that is incredibly easy to follow. You can try out the key points for yourself and hopefully, given time, you will have a solid strategy for how LinkedIn can be used now and, in the future, as well as an idea of how to make the platform work for you.
The focus of month 1 is to make sure that you have some plans in place, know what you are doing (as well as what you want to achieve) and start to lay the foundations to get yourself off the ground and running on LinkedIn.
It is best to start by thinking about what you are going to specifically focus on. Consider what your skills, experience and interests are. If you focus on the things that you care about, then you are likely to want to talk about it more and will find it easier to ensure that people will engage with you.
Another key consideration at this early stage is your audience.
You want to ensure that you choose an audience who is going to engage with what you are presenting to them. It can take some time to get to grips with your audience, but I can promise you that this is worth doing.
If you drill down and focus on yourself, then you are going to be able to become a trusted, valued, and respected expert in that area, which means that you are going to be giving yourself the best chance of succeeding in whatever it is that you are hoping to achieve.
The next step is to create your profile
Remember that your profile will visually represent your brand and will help you gain attention.
Your profile should be a well-written account of you as a professional, highlighting all those key points of your journey in law. Many lawyers decide to add some of their career highlights when they are writing their profile, which means that those who are visiting are going to quickly see exactly what you have achieved and why you are a lawyer who can be trusted.
As well as the content, you also need to think about how the profile itself looks. You need to add a profile picture that is clear and has a definite professional feel. Often, it is best to choose a simple headshot, which has a plain background.
You also need to think about the headline that you have on your profile
This is the tagline of you as a professional and should be something that reflects your current role and any key skills that you may have to share.
After this, you must think about your summary, which is a little more detail that follows from your tagline. You can use it to highlight skills and experience and to explain any goals you may have for your future. It is also a great place to use keywords, which will help you when it comes to SEO.
Month 2 on LinkedIn
Now we’re getting into month 2, which means that you move away from the foundations of your profile and instead you are looking at how you can grow all those connections in your network.
To know who is going to be worth networking with you need to first decide what your goals are. Do you want to use networking to increase your job opportunities, or do you want to offer mentorship? Some may even want to use LinkedIn networking to grow and expand on business and client connections.
You can use LinkedIn to shape and implement your networking strategy, regardless of the connections you are trying to make.
It is not always easy to connect with people that you have never met.
However, you can make things a little easier by utilising the search function on LinkedIn. You can narrow down contacts using a job title, an industry and where they are based, amongst many other things.
Once you do come across someone who you think may work out to be a good contact, then your first port of call is to send over a polite message, which explains why you are sending them a message and what you believe the benefits for you both will be.
If these connection requests go well, then you can start to use them to carry on and build broader connections. Which is the way that LinkedIn networking can work well for you.
LinkedIn, like any social media, can swallow time before you even realise it, which means that you need to think about ways that you can prioritise your time whilst you are on the platform.
The best place to start is to get out your calendar and think about how LinkedIn can be worked into your routine.
You almost need to set yourself an appointment, and then you can spend it on LinkedIn. That way, you know when you are supposed to put time into this platform and you also will not overrun and lose yourself in it.
It is one thing to make connections and to use LinkedIn to network, but you also need to try and keep those business relationships going; the best way to do this is to take the time to engage with your connections (and even take this a step further and engage with their connections).
This does not have to be as complicated or time-consuming as it may sound.
You simply need to take the time to like, share and comment on the content that your network puts out there. This may be things that they post to their homepage on their profile, or it could be things that they share or post on other LinkedIn groups.
Not only does this work by helping to highlight your engagement to those key contacts that you are trying to build into working relationships, but it also allows your name to be seen and to be more out there.
If someone sees you sharing content that they have already noticed or liked, then they may think that you are like them in your interests, which in turn means that they will follow your profile and learn more about who you are and what you have to offer.
It is a good idea to be as consistent as you can when you are engaging with others on LinkedIn. This shows your dedication to working on those relationships and your serious commitment to your networking presence as well.
Month 3 on LinkedIn
Now we’re in the final month of the 3-month plan. This means you need to think about the content that you are sharing on your profile. The aim should always be to become a thought leader and to build a trusted reputation. After doing this, you can start to see the benefits of being on LinkedIn.
Once you are in month 3 you can start to do this by creating content that is not only relevant to your audience but is also something that they want to read.
If your content is not engaging and they find it does not provide anything in the way of value, then they will not want to carry on reading, read your content in the future, or even be a part of your network. None of those are things that you are going to want to see happen to you.
So, how do you share and develop this high-quality content?
The first thing to do is to make sure that you share any content that you have created on another platform (of course that is appropriate for your LinkedIn profile) is shared to LinkedIn. You also need to consider whether you want to add visual media to your posts. Although I should mention LinkedIn posts with visual media are much more likely to receive engagement. You can vary their type, but using video content is a great way to get noticed.
You can also make sure that your content is worthwhile reading for your network by keeping your content brief and clear, with a focus on interesting stats, key points, and relevant quotes.
Whilst your interest is always going to be in the legal field, law is not always something that everyone is going to find engaging, easy to understand or even interesting. This means that whilst your legal content is important to show that this is what you do, it should not be the only type of content that you post, instead you should try and mix things up as much as you can.
The focus of month 2 was to engage with others around you on the platform, but this does not mean that you should neglect this during month 3.
Engaging and interacting is another key aspect of month 3 (and beyond).
Some of the relationships that you want to build are going to need to have a nice gradual approach taken to them, which means that you are going to need to be able to be patient with them.
It may feel like you are putting in a considerably higher amount of effort with clients and contacts this way, but often these are the networking connections that are going to stand the test of time.
Once you have worked on those connections on the platform, you may want to start thinking about whether or not you can nurture connections offline.
This may not always be possible to do straight away, which is why this part of the process often comes up around the 3-month mark.
You need to ask if your connection is happy to take any conversations that you may be having offline, this needs to be approached in a way that is sensitive and that ensures that their wishes and privacy concerns are considered.
More often than not you can ask them for their email and then you can go on from there.
It may be an email conversation, a phone call or perhaps a face-to-face meet-up (depending on what they prefer) however, this can help to transform a digital connection into a fully-fledged client, contact or business partner for the future.
LinkedIn can be tricky to get to grips with, but as a lawyer, you can use it to your advantage and help to grow your brand online and offline too. This means that it is always worth taking the time to master.
As you can see, 3 months is often all you need to make LinkedIn work for you and if you cannot spend 3 months building your law firm brand or you as a professional lawyer, then you may not ever be able to see the growth that you hope for in the future.
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