Guest: Brynne Tillman, CEO of Social Sales Link
Episode 69: Leveraging LinkedIn as a Powerful Business Development Tool
Sharon: Welcome to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast. Today, my guest is Brynne Tillman, CEO of Social Sales Link, which transforms the way professionals grow their business by leveraging LinkedIn to start more sales conversations with targeted buyers. We’ll hear about how lawyers can leverage LinkedIn and enhance or optimize the way they currently use the program. Brynne, welcome. So glad to have you.
Brynne: Thank you, Sharon. I’m thrilled to be here.
Sharon: Can you tell us about your career path? You’ve been so involved in LinkedIn. How did that come about? What was your path there?
Brynne: I went to school for hotel restaurant management in culinary arts and got out and thought this is a hard life, so I went into sales. I worked at a company called Dun & Bradstreet right out of college. I got some great sales experience and it seemed—even starting with Dun & Bradstreet—that wherever I was, I ended up being the person that the new salesperson would sit with and I would train them. Over time, I became a sales trainer internally in organizations and then I partnered in a business that was sales-training focused. That’s about the time LinkedIn started coming out into the public realm. I started teaching it from a sales perspective before LinkedIn realized sales were a thing for them. They were really a job-seeking platform, but I started to teach this around market prospecting and how to truly leverage your network to gain access to thought leaders and subject matter experts and prospects. Eventually, I realized this is all I wanted to do when I grew up, so I ended up launching my own business solely focused on LinkedIn for business development.
Sharon: Tell me a little more about what you do. We’ve had a little bit of interaction, but what do you do, basically? Tell us what you do for clients.
Brynne: Ultimately, the end goal is to help clients start more sales conversations or more conversations with their targeted audience. Sometimes, it’s not necessarily a prospect. It could be a referral source and a sphere of influence, but it’s a targeted person. Now, that’s going to happen in lots of different ways. The first thing is we’ve got to position ourselves so we attract them. Having a really powerful profile that is more than a résumé—it’s really a resource—is a great way to start, so we help with that. Finding and engaging your targeted market and identifying who your shared connections are is the next step. It’s really about leveraging your social proximity. Who in your network can help you gain access to the people you’re looking to have these conversations with?
Sharon: I like that term, social proximity.
Brynne: Thank you. The third piece is how you are using content, engaging with content and being a thought leader so that you are attracting the right people to you.
Sharon: One of the reasons I wanted to have this conversation is because I wanted to get your thoughts on why more seasoned lawyers don’t make use of LinkedIn. It seems like their clients and prospects are on it. We always hear, “Oh, I want to get to in-house counsel and they are so difficult,” but it seems like LinkedIn could be a way in. What is the resistance? Why do you think lawyers—or seasoned or senior lawyers—aren’t using it more?
Brynne: I think the first thing is particularly seasoned attorneys are always concerned about putting too much information and too much content into the world. I think there’s always that conservative reluctance on any social media platform, and often what they don’t recognize is how absolutely vital this is. Even if they’re not using it actively every day, it is their footprint. Almost everyone has a profile. If they don’t, it’s a concern when people are searching and they don’t find you on LinkedIn. It’s bothersome to folks; they want to see your background. Even worse is if you’re barely there, so they find you and there’s nothing there. There’s no picture of you. This is really a 24/7 networking event, and it’s really important to make sure you’re doing your job in showing up well-dressed with a great 30-second pitch. You’re being Googled and the first thing that comes up on Google is LinkedIn almost every single time.
Sharon: You hit on something because when you say it’s 24 hours, it is; it’s a constant thing. Entry-level and younger associates get it, but mid-career and above, I can hear them saying, “Forget it. I don’t have the time for anything that’s 24/7. I have to work 24/7. I have to keep my clients happy 24/7. If I invest that time, what’s it going to get me?”
Brynne: The first thing is that your profile’s working for you when you’re sleeping. People are showing up at this networking event all hours of the day and night, and the right profile is helping you even when you’re not working it. That’s a once-and-done kind of thing. That’s the good news.
The next thing is where are you spending your business development now? Are you getting client referrals? Are you meeting all of the other strategic players in your client’s ecosphere? For example, let’s say you’re an estate attorney. Are you meeting their CPA? Are you meeting their financial advisor? Or, you’re a divorce attorney. Again, are you meeting their CPA? Are you meeting their realtor? Are you meeting all the people that are influencing your client?
You mentioned in-house counsel. If some of the work you do is supporting in-house counsel, their overflow work or in areas they don’t cover internally, you don’t just want to connect with the in-house counsel. Who else is selling to the in-house counsel? What other vendors have relationships? Because when you can build relationships with other people that are selling to your targeted audience, it’s so much easier to leverage those relationships to get introductions, and you can help them get into your clients as well. That can all happen on LinkedIn as a port or place to do that investigation, to see who knows who you want to know. Even if you don’t want to engage inside of LinkedIn, the research value behind it is absolutely phenomenal.
One last piece, I’m going to go back to that in-house counsel. LinkedIn tells us there’s a 20 percent turnover in every company, every year. That means if you have connections with a hundred in-house counsel right now, 20 of them are leaving this year. LinkedIn helps us not only see where they’ve gone in real time, so we can follow them and get new business from their new place, but also who replaced them at their existing company. There isn’t another tool that tells us that in almost real time. Someone gets a new job; they have to update their LinkedIn.
Sharon: That’s really true, yes. For lawyers who’ve been moribund in terms of their LinkedIn—they posted a profile years ago and they haven’t touched it, or they don’t know what to do with it—what are the first three action steps that somebody should take right now to revitalize their LinkedIn?
Brynne: That’s a great question. It may go beyond three because the first two are pretty surface-level, but get a banner image that’s branded to your firm. Get a professional profile picture, a head shot. Those are the first two things. A recent picture, not your high school graduation picture, or a college graduation. No cap and gown in this one. I’m shocked; I see people say, “That was such a great picture,” but it was 25 years ago. Make sure you’ve got an updated image.
With more substance, let’s start talking about the headline. In a headline, typically you’re going to have “An attorney at ABC firm,” but that doesn’t get your prospective clients or strategic referral partners excited to have a conversation with you. The goal of that headline is to get them to want to keep reading. You may want to move the headline from—and by the way, it’s called a headline, and your experience doesn’t belong there. The only reason your title is there is because LinkedIn defaults to that if you ignored this section when you completed your profile, but even LinkedIn advises that this be a bit more informative. I love the formula of who do you help, how do you help them and why they should care. You can touch on those three points in 120 characters, whatever your specialty is. Helping in-house counsel handle their legal tax overflow work so they’re freed up to do more important tasks—something like that. Now, all of a sudden, in-house counsel go, “Oh man, I would love that.” I’m playing around loosely with that, but that’s so much more than “counsel for hire.”
Sharon: Was there more you want to add? I know we could go on for hours on this.
Brynne: You said three. I’m going to go on about two more major pieces. There’s an “About” section, and most people start with my mission, my passion, my years in business. I think all that information should be pushed down into your experience section, and your About section should really be about who you help and how you help them. Really focus on them, not on you, and then your experience section should go beyond that. Absolutely, talk about what you do and why you do it, but there’s also an opportunity to highlight some case studies that have been approved, or highlight deliverables if your firm has a few different ones that you want to highlight. You can definitely leverage those sections with more substance and this will attract your audience a lot quicker. You’ll create curiosity in what you do, resonate with what you do, and more than likely you will have phone calls scheduled with people that want to learn more.
Sharon: How would you recommend that law firm marketers and business developers persuade lawyers to use LinkedIn? What are your thoughts about overcoming resistance? You’re the salesperson; what would you say if somebody’s saying, “I know, but I don’t have time,” or “I’m in the legal department; I work with lawyers, but they’re so resistant. What do I do?”
Brynne: The first thing you have to do is assess if there’s a need. The profile is a must, whether they like that or not. If you have the resources inside your firm, just go in and do it for them if you have to. That’s branding. That’s about the footprint, not just of each attorney, but the representation of the whole firm. If someone goes to the firm’s company page and they click through and half the attorneys don’t have headshots, it’s an impression. The profile piece should be absolutely mandatory, if nothing else.
The time investment piece is another conversation. The first question is, are they looking for more business? Almost every managing partner, every attorney, is looking for more business, so I typically say, “Well, how are you spending your time doing that now?” Because when you leverage LinkedIn for client referrals and strategic introductions from centers of influence and other networking partners, it actually takes a lot less time to start conversations with those in-house counsel and your targeted market because you’re coming in at a higher level of credibility. Attorneys are not cold calling, and we know that, but they are doing some sort of business development. I think the first thing is to sit down and say, “How effective is what you’re doing now? How much time are you putting into that?” It doesn’t make sense to flop out half of that time to try some LinkedIn. Don’t add extra time into your calendar, but let’s repurpose some of that business development time into what may prove to be significantly more productive.
Sharon: That’s a great way to look at it, not adding more time, but just redistributing it. Those are great thoughts. Brynne thank you so much for being here. Your knowledge of LinkedIn is amazing because most of us think of it as something simple and straightforward, but it’s so deep. Thank you so much for helping us understand a little bit more.
To everybody listening, that wraps up another episode of the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst. If you’d like to find out more about how Brynne and her business can help you, we’ll have links in the show notes as well as a link to—she has a fabulous “LinkedIn for Lawyers” checklist which is very useful, and we’ll have a link to that. If you like what you heard and would like to hear more, you can subscribe on iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts, and please rate us. We’ll be back next time with another thought-provoking guest who can be a catalyst for moving your firm forward. Thank you so much for listening.
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