How to Use LinkedIn for Business Development

LinkedIn can be a great tool for generating leads and referral sources if you know how to work it properly. Just like any other social media network, it really helps to know your way around the site and how people interact. Since LinkedIn is more business-focused and has different features than Facebook. there are differences in how you would market your firm there.

Developing your profile

Your first step is to flesh out your profile. This is your calling card, your storefront, your everything on LinkedIn. Here’s a blueprint for the perfect profile:

Name: Use your professional name, no nicknames or other superlatives.

Headline: Under your name is your headline, the most important piece of real estate on your profile. Use keywords that people would use to find you -- i.e., Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney.

LinkedIn URL: Customize your LinkedIn URL to make it easier for people to find you. You’ll find it in the light gray box below your name.

Profile photo: Use a professional head shot with a neutral background. Have your photo reflect what you do. Look friendly, not stern.

Summary: Develop a succinct description of what you do, using keywords that other people would use to search for you.   Add contact information -- website, email, phone, etc. Add video if you have it that gives an overview of your experience.

Experience: Again, if you have video, use it. People engage much more with video than text! Add any content you’ve produced that is pertinent to your professional life. Be precise in listing your past and current roles.

Education: Including information about degrees acquired and schools attended provides an opportunity to connect with other alumni.

Featured Skills & Endorsements: Include skills that define your professional role and experiences. Get endorsements from peers and others you’ve worked with to validate your skills.

Recommendations: Recommendations are written by other LinkedIn members -- typically people you’ve worked with or know professionally. They add credibility to your profile. You can solicit recommendations within LinkedIn by clicking on the “Ask to be recommended” link in the Recommendations box and selecting up to three people to receive your request.

Accomplishments: Here is where you list any awards, honors or other recognition you’ve received as a professional. You can also list anything you’ve had published -- articles, e-books, etc.

Making connections

Your next step is to connect with everyone you know who is also on LinkedIn. The good news is, the site will find them for you! LinkedIn will import your address book and search your email account to suggest connections. Then you simply send those people a connection request and soon your network will be up and running.

Now that you’ve established your professional profile and your network, you can proceed with using LinkedIn to generate potential clients and referral sources. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Connecting with potential clients. The first task in connecting with potential clients on LinkedIn is finding them:

  • Use the site’s search features to look by industry or to see if you have any first- or second-degree connections at companies you think might benefit from your services.
  • If you have a first-tier connection to a prospect, call that connection or shoot them an email asking for an introduction.
  • Use LinkedIn’s InMail feature to invite people to connect with you. Be sure you provide some context for the connection.
  • When you receive a LinkedIn alert that one of your connections is celebrating a work anniversary or has a new job, use that as an opportunity to reconnect with them to rekindle your professional relationship.
  • When you receive a LinkedIn alert that someone has viewed your profile, send that person an InMail and ask if you can help them. They may have looked at your profile because they need an attorney!

Connecting with referral sources. LinkedIn provides probably the best opportunity of any social media site to cultivate referral sources. Here’s how:

  • Join LinkedIn groups that align with your practice area. You are much more likely to be able to drive traffic to your profile from participating in groups.
  • Start your own LinkedIn group to attract likeminded connections and showcase your expertise.
  • Use status updates to post relevant blog posts, articles, announcements, press releases or alerts to your connections. Also post to your LinkedIn groups.
  • Search your connections’ networks for potential referral sources and then ask for an introduction.

The last thing you need to do is market your LinkedIn profile by including it in your email signature as follows: “Connect with me on LinkedIn: [your LinkedIn URL]”.

With all its features and ability to search within the site for connections that make sense for you as potential clients or referral sources, LinkedIn is the #1 social media tool for law firm business development. Get networking!

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