Lawyers, Here's What Your Competition Is Doing On LinkedIn

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Lawyers often ask what they should be doing on LinkedIn. And my answer is always the same: be more active and more visible than your competition. 

I realize that this might sound like Sales 101, but it’s a concept often missed by anyone who asks. I say it to underscore the fact that business success on LinkedIn comes not only from being on the site but from doing on the site.

...business success on LinkedIn comes not only from being on the site but from doing on the site. 

To that end, your competition is out there, capitalizing daily on data and intelligence from LinkedIn. Learn from them! Consider these your social networking marching orders:

1. Power Networking

With nearly 600 million users around the globe, LinkedIn is by far the world’s largest professional network. Power networkers take full advantage of that to connect with virtually any business executive in the world who uses the platform.

You may ask, “But Sam, are lawyers really on LinkedIn?” (And specifically: in-house lawyers?)

They are! We pulled data on lawyers with titles of Corporate, General, or Assistant Counsel and, in the last 90 days, 76% logged in nearly daily, 68% made a new connection, and 61% liked/commented on someone’s content. (And regarding this last point about in-house lawyers engaging with content, my friends at JD Supra tell me that LinkedIn remains far and away the leading driver of social networking traffic/readership to law firm content hosted on that platform.)

With time and focus (and a little chutzpah), you can use LinkedIn Navigator’s search function to find the people who matter to your business growth: decision-makers who hire lawyers, industry leaders who make introductions, influencers who promote others. 

Send invitations to people you don’t already know but with whom you can make a meaningful connection. Perhaps you attended the same law school, or were summer associates at the same firm; or have other common connections. Here’s the critical part: make sure to include a personal message in your request to connect, one that explains who you are and why you want to connect. You want to build an active network of people who can help you, and first impressions count. 

And when someone accepts your request (not everyone will), remember that networking is a contact sport, whether your connections are online or on your block. Your competition is always looking for ways to bring value to their connections, like sharing business leads and making introductions, and you must do the same. Be sure to say thank you for connecting and ensure that you are not responding with an inquiry to do work for them – this is your chance to begin building a relationship, not rush to the ask for business. Give before you get.

2. Power Researching

Power Researchers know that there’s an unlimited stream of competitive intelligence available on LinkedIn.

But how do they cut through the noise of all those personal updates and go straight to the news and alerts that matter to their business? They use Navigator, which helps them easily to separate the wheat from the chaff and filter out all but the information that’s most relevant to their work and their clients' needs. 

For example, here’s a simple trick. Use Navigator’s keyword search to identify people who share competitive intelligence: key clients, thought leaders, industry heads, and the like. Look for the people and groups that match your interests – like the CEO at a prospective company you'd like engage for new work, or the Executive Director of an industry association that hosts conferences at which you'd like to speak.

Visit their profiles; save the ones that matter most. Whether or not they actively post on LinkedIn doesn’t matter – this collection of saved profiles now becomes a source of interesting news, aggregated directly to your LinkedIn feed and/or email inbox whenever they are mentioned in the media or across LinkedIn. The same applies to the industries and companies you've saved for ongoing monitoring.

Read through your daily alerts and act on any intelligence you gather: share it on your profile; send it to colleagues and connections; plan your next article, presentation, phone conversation, or lunch meeting.

This broad but targeted collection of  your saved interests becomes a Wall Street Journal of sorts for you, built specifically around the most important information about your clients and prospective clients.

3. Acting On Opportunities

The vast majority of lawyers are, at a minimum, passively present on LinkedIn. In other words, they have a professional profile, but they don't do much.

That doesn’t mean they’re not benefitting from the visibility. On the contrary: they’re being seen. In fact, many law firms report that, while their website-hosted attorney bios are popular, they are still not as popular as attorney LinkedIn profiles (which see nearly twice the traffic).  

"My client thought I was dead because I didn’t have a [LinkedIn] profile..."

Recently an attorney told me, "I need to get on LinkedIn. My client thought I was dead because I didn’t have a profile." 

Clients, prospective clients, and others are turning to LinkedIn to evaluate your credentials, take full measure of your professional accomplishments and education, see how you are connected to others - and, of course, connect with you, too.

Your targets want to see what kind of presence you have on LinkedIn; they want to see what you’ve written about yourself; and, they want to see, more often than not, who you know to validate that you run in the same circles.  

You need to act on this interest, these opportunities, in a systematic way. (I wrote about how to do this here, in a recent Pro Tip for Lawyers.) 

Dedicate a consistent amount of time, regularly, to share information, make connections, build relationships, and market your practice. This is how your competition does it. 

Start by connecting with and cultivating the people looking at your profile. Then move on to the leads and connections that become abundantly apparent when you are using LinkedIn Navigator - your hottest prospects. 

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Here’s a final, bonus tip for you: make your LinkedIn headline something other than “Partner @ xyz”. That information is listed below, in your work history. Instead, use your headline to tell me what, exactly, you do!  One of my favorites is from an L&E attorney: “I ensure you don’t get sued for workplace discrimination.”  

If you've started a LinkedIn profile and don't know where to go next, start by familiarizing yourself with the activities outlined above. All of my writing (which you can follow here) is about making the most of your LinkedIn Navigator account and dashboards - and is in service of these concepts, above: networking, researching, and being active on the site.

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[Samantha McKenna is Head of Sales, Enterprise, NYC at LinkedIn. Follow her for her latest writings on law firm BD on JD Supra. Connect with Sam on LinkedIn to see how Navigator can transform your firm's growth efforts.]

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