Business Development on LinkedIn: 4 Tips to Grow Your Legal Practice

There’s no disputing that having a strong social media presence is an absolute necessity as part of your overall law firm marketing strategy.  For attorneys, one of the most useful social media channels is LinkedIn. With its focus on the professional aspects of our lives, as opposed to the personal, à la Instagram or even Facebook; LinkedIn empowers attorneys to extend their marketing reach in myriad ways.

From original published works to the sharing of valuable information, such as new laws, groundbreaking precedent, or unusual legal findings, LinkedIn provides a great way to keep in touch with your contacts through education. But LinkedIn provides law firms with far more opportunities that often get overlooked. In this case, I’m talking about developing new business through LinkedIn.

That’s right, the opportunities within LinkedIn aren’t just limited to keeping in touch with those you already know. On the contrary, LinkedIn provides attorneys and law firms limitless opportunities to actively develop new business.

So, how can law firms maximize business development opportunities through LinkedIn? Here’s a look at four ways to grow your legal practice using this social media channel.

Start with a Strategy

Just like you’d plan your legal strategy, you’ll want to spend time on your strategy for using LinkedIn as a business development tool. Assuming your intent is to develop new business, you’ll work backwards from that.

With developing new business as your overarching objective, you’ll next need to break that down into concrete actions to take to accomplish these goals. For example, you may further refine to something like, “generate three new leads in the next six months,” or “arrange four new business lunches per quarter.”

From there, you’ll be in a better position to look at what action you’ll need to take each week, month or quarter in order to achieve your goal. This may require that you create additional sub-goals, such as “publish one new article per week,” or “spend two hours each week researching individuals working in the _______ industry,” or “spend one hour each week researching and sharing news stories that would be useful to my target market.”

Serve as a Source of Information

When you freely give away useful information to others, you’re helping them. As an attorney, the act of giving away your expertise for free may sound counterintuitive, as providing counsel/advice to others is, frankly, your job. However, there is a wealth of knowledge that you undoubtedly have that can be shared quickly, easily and without having any significant impact on your bottom line.

For example, when it comes to writing articles, it could be something as simple as breaking down otherwise incomprehensible legal jargon into digestible bits of information for readers. You may be able to draft a short article that explains a new tax law in plain English. Or you may be able to provide others with a checklist of steps they should take before filing a trademark. There are countless topics that you can address in informative articles, how-to sheets, tip sheets, or explanations of current events that could be helpful to your network.

If you can offer this type of information at no cost to others, you’ll begin to be viewed as a resource, rather than just a connection. A resource is by definition “a source of supply or support.” That’s what you should aim to become on LinkedIn, as offering support is integral to developing all relationships.

Review Your Past Posts and Revise Your Future Posts Based on Data Analysis

LinkedIn provides users with outstanding data analysis tools. Review your readership analytics to see who is interested in what you are sharing and what topics are most popular. This way, you can continue doing what is striking a chord with others and/or refine your planned posts if some topics aren’t as popular. Remember, you want to be a resource, supplying information that your readers want.

Nurture Your Relationships, Both Old and New

All relationships, whether personal or professional are at least a little bit like houseplants, in that if you don’t nurture them, they will die of neglect. To avoid letting relationships you worked hard to build in the past wither, continue to foster them. This can be achieved through direct messages, by commenting on items that others share, reading and “liking” articles others have written, or even just taking a moment to send that “Congratulations on X years at ABC Company.” It’s important when setting out to develop new business that you don’t leave existing relationships to wilt away. After all, referrals from existing connections are often the best opportunity to develop new business.

New relationships as well obviously need nurturing. But you want to make sure that the time you invest in a new relationship is for a relationship that you actually want to have.  There are plenty of people with loads of “connections” on LinkedIn, but who have very few true professional relationships. So, when you’re attempting to develop new business as a lawyer on LinkedIn, be deliberate about the relationships you’re trying to forge. Quality over quantity is a smart adage to stick to when it comes to hitting that “connect” button. And don’t forget that while the first step is making a “connection,” people do business with those they have relationships with, so you need to treat connections as the valuable relationships they either already are, or are on their way to becoming.

Business development will be a lifelong endeavor for attorneys, so it’s smart to maximize every opportunity you have to cultivate relationships. LinkedIn provides an outstanding platform for you to reach your business development goals, whether you’re in a solo practice, boutique firm or even within an international firm.

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