Is it possible for busy lawyers and other professionals to develop business and clients using LinkedIn for only 30 minutes a week? And to do so without posting content? The answer is yes, but with some caveats. Read on for best practices, how tos, and tips.
LinkedIn has now been around for over 17 years! It currently has over 610 million members and approximately 303 million active monthly users (40%, or approximately 120 million, of whom visit the site daily), and includes 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million decision-makers who are active users. Plus, LinkedIn has over 700,000 users with a General Counsel title, and over 800,000 with the title Corporate Counsel.
Yet many busy lawyers and other professional services providers still do not use LinkedIn regularly, or do not use it optimally, even though – in this largely remote and digital world – LinkedIn is one of the best places to develop new clients and referral sources and nurture and expand existing relationships.
Main reasons busy professionals have not optimized using LinkedIn: The fact is that learning and mastering LinkedIn is a science and art in and of itself. It can be extraordinarily time-consuming and distracting, and there is always something new to learn about it.
The main reason busy lawyers and other professionals do not use LinkedIn optimally is due to a lack of time. Billable time demands, plus life, easily take up 24 hours each day, so busy professionals simply do not have the time to devote to LinkedIn. Other reasons LinkedIn is underutilized by busy professionals include:
- Fear of making mistakes or fear of social media in general;
- The misconception that you must post content on LinkedIn to get anything out of it; and
- The lack of enough knowledge to be confident when using LinkedIn.
I am here to help. Why me? One law firm retained me to join LinkedIn in 2003 to learn and master it for them, get all the firm’s interested lawyers on LinkedIn, and then train and coach them how to use it and get the most from it (which I continue to do). As a result of my joining LinkedIn early on, I now have over 15,000 connections, have been named a Top Thought Leader in Legal on LinkedIn, and consider myself an expert user of the platform. In 2020, my program that handholds busy lawyers and other professionals through the process of getting on LinkedIn and making the most of their LinkedIn presence and connections has been in great demand.
Here are some tips from my program on how to optimize your connections on LinkedIn in 30 minutes a week (assuming you already have a profile on LinkedIn and ideally have optimized it – a separate and complex topic that this article does not cover).
An important note: Do not feel like you need to do all these things at one time on LinkedIn. Instead, I recommend you do one of these things for 30 minutes maximum each week (or spend more time on LinkedIn if you have it or are getting results, but make sure your notifications are set appropriately so you can be responsive).
1. Commit to Self-Discipline and Consistent Use of LinkedIn Over Time
a. It is very important to schedule 30 minutes each week for yourself (and your LinkedIn coach if you have one) to work on LinkedIn. To do so, reflect on a typical week and identify a day/time when you can carve out 30 minutes to devote to working on LinkedIn. There may not be one good day/time, but the best practice is to pick one and schedule an automated calendar meeting with yourself or ask your assistant to remind you each week. If something urgent or more important comes up on that day/time, do not “dismiss” the calendar reminder, instead move it to another day/time that week when you will most likely be able to spend some time on LinkedIn.
b. If you simply do not have the time to devote to LinkedIn on a weekly basis, ask a professional with knowledge, skills, and discretion, such as your assistant or your firm’s marketer, to handle your account for you and post and/or connect on your behalf, or hire a qualified coach (like me) to do so for you. But be sure to take the time to meet with them first to discuss your privacy choices on LinkedIn, how you would like to handle connections and other key issues, etc.
2. Make It Easy For You to Access LinkedIn and the Best Features
- Create a shortcut on your desktop for LinkedIn.
- Download the LinkedIn app on your cell and tablet from the App Store or Google Play.
- Adjust the notifications settings on LinkedIn to optimize your productivity and avoid distractions.
- If you are not a premium member of LinkedIn or do not subscribe to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, consider doing so, but only if you currently use or plan to use LinkedIn consistently for at least 30 minutes a week.
3. Decide How You Want to Protect Your Connections (or Not)
a. Unless you are a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), which means you are open to connect with anyone, acquaintances and strangers alike, you may want to be selective with whom you “connect” and from whom you “accept” connection invitations on LinkedIn. For example, some judges, public officials, and lawyers may choose not to link to direct competitors or opposing parties.
b. If you are already very well connected and do not want anyone to see your connections or access them, you may want to change the default LinkedIn setting that allows all your connections to see your personal connections (i.e., your “Rolodex”).
REMEMBER, power comes from whom you know, and lawyers may want to protect that power to the greatest extent possible. To change the settings, click on your name/icon in the upper right corner; on the dropdown menu, choose “Settings & Privacy”; on the left menu bar, select “Visibility of your profile and network,” then scroll down to “Who can see your connections” and, based on your privacy preference, select “Only you” or “Your connections.”
4. Best Practices to Maximize Your Network, Contacts, and Connections on LinkedIn
a. As a rule, when sending invitations to connect to a person on LinkedIn, unless you know the person well, the chances of your connection request being accepted increase exponentially if you do NOT use LinkedIn’s default message to connect.
Instead, take a minute to include a tailored message in the connection request. How? Mention a specific reason why you are inviting them to connect, such as “Dear Pete, since we are both in legal technology, would you like to connect on LinkedIn?,” or “Hi Alice, we met several years ago at the DRI Conference in Nashville. Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?”
b. If you have not imported all your contacts from Outlook or a web-based email account like Gmail, you may want to consider doing so selectively. Once you upload all or some of your contacts to LinkedIn (do so by clicking on “My Network” [found on the upper toolbar, once you are logged in], then “Connections,” and then in the upper right corner click on “Manage synced and imported contacts” and follow the directions to upload your contacts), you can select each to connect to separately or select all to connect to at once. If you select all, LinkedIn automatically sends a generic connection request to each.
c. To maximize “My Network,” on the left bar, click on “Teammates” and scroll though the list. If you are not already connected to every other professional in your firm/company on LinkedIn, consider doing so. One never knows where the next referral will come from.
- Another way to see everyone employed by your firm/company on LinkedIn is to type your firm/company name in the LinkedIn search bar and you should be able to see and click on your firm/company’s LinkedIn page. On the right side will be a line that says, “See all ___ employees on LinkedIn.” Click on that and send a tailored connection request to all you know or even those you do not know.
- Your tailored connection message could read something like, “Dear Sarah, although we have not yet met, we both work at ____, so would you like to connect on LinkedIn? Please let me know if you would like to schedule a time to chat so we can learn about each other’s practices. Thank you. – NAME.”
- You can do the same for your prior places of employment, charitable/pro bono entities, and all your alma maters (if the entity/firm/company has a page on LinkedIn).
d. Under “My Network,” you can also scroll down to the “People You May Know” section, which LinkedIn automatically populates with professionals you may know from the information in your profile and your connections. Select those with whom you may want to connect but insert a tailored connection message as described above.
These are just a few of the many best practices and tips that busy lawyers and other professionals can use to make the most of their time spent on LinkedIn in 30 minutes a week.
If you would like professional assistance to optimize your LinkedIn presence and connections, please contact me by email Julie@BusDevInc.com, or message me on LinkedIn, or by phone +1 (734) 276-1900
ps. Here are three books on optimizing LinkedIn for lawyers: