YOU LOVE INSTAGRAM, and you “get” Facebook, but LinkedIn, well, maybe you’ll get around to it one day…
LinkedIn’s biggest problem is that it is B-O-R-I-N-G. Doesn’t it make you think of white men over 60 in suits and ties playing politics and kicking each other in the face as they scramble up the corporate ladder–okay, maybe that’s just me. Ironically, those old farts probably don’t “get” LinkedIn any more than anybody else. But…consider this:
As of January 1, 2018, there were 500 million LinkedIn members. Of those members, 250 million are considered “active” members. And of those “active” members 133 million are in the good ol’ U.S. of A. And get this: 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn. Do you wonder what for?
Obviously, somebody is getting it. There are a whole lot of people on LinkedIn and, unlike Instagram and Facebook, people on LinkedIn or there for the sole purpose of doing business of some kind. If you are not even a little curious about exploring it to see what it can do for you and your business, then perhaps you already have all the clients you will ever need. If you don’t, keep reading because I’m going to tell you a few ways LinkedIn may be able to help you.
If you learn to use LinkedIn correctly, you can create and grow a referral network that will serve you for years to come in several ways. Here are a few:
- Professional connections. You can meet and connect with similarly situated professionals in other markets, who may not be direct competitors, and with whom you could form professional peer relationships. These relationships could wind up supporting you in surprising ways throughout the life of your career as an attorney, whether through idea-sharing, resources, contacts, and connections, or just commiseration. Who knows? You could even make some life-long friends.
- Prospective new hire search and vetting. Obviously, this is why LinkedIn was created, and yet, when attorneys search for new hires, they often turn into employment agencies and start hiring relatives of friends just because they “need a job,” or they post on Craigslist and then spend hours filtering through the unqualified folks’ resumes before finding one or two worth interviewing. Why not learn to proactively search for your ideal employee or agent instead? LinkedIn is a great tool for this. It’s even better for vetting candidates.
- Deepen existing relationships. When we connect on LinkedIn with professionals we already know in person or in other ways, we can learn more about how we can serve them in their businesses. LinkedIn makes it much easier to be a connector of friends and colleagues we think will benefit from working well together. We can invite them to search through our connections and ask them who they would like to meet and then facilitate an introduction, for example. In the long run, this earns us reputations as people who truly care about others, beyond our own self-serving interests. And people will know, like and trust us, which, in turn, will inspire them to refer more business to us. Not to mention the life and career-enriching benefits.
- Target and research our ideal referrers. Lawyers are prohibited from soliciting clients directly. However, we are free, and encouraged, to network and connect with our professional community. LinkedIn is a great place to reach out and connect with other attorneys and like-minded professionals such as physicians, mental health professionals, financial advisors, real estate agents, and the like. Think about who refers business to you. Where do you usually meet them? At conferences? Speaking engagements? In-person networking events? Use LinkedIn as an “excuse” to follow up and stay connected with them–as a next step in a continued relationship. Or, use it as a means of forming a new relationship. No need to wait until the next conference to meet someone you’d like to meet. Conduct an advanced search on LinkedIn for the type of professional you’d like to meet and then reach out with a thoughtful and personal e-mail explaining the reasons you’d like to connect with them. Perhaps even ask them if they are planning to attend the upcoming industry conference and, if so if they’d like to meet there. Think of LinkedIn as a tool that enhances our ability to connect with others.
- Educating and attracting prospective clients. As I mentioned, while attorneys are forbidden from solicitation, we are not forbidden, but encouraged by the Bar to give our time and knowledge freely to help educate the public about their legal rights and responsibilities. LinkedIn is a great way to do that while simultaneously positioning ourselves as credible professionals with deep understanding and knowledge of our practice areas. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Pulse, to publish articles designed to educate and inform your intended client, so they might choose to hire you when they are in need of your services. Soon, LinkedIn is expected to role out LIVE video like Facebook has, so be sure to watch for that and take advantage of it as well. Also, be sure to share informative articles related to your industry on your feed, and share the articles of others in your network (it’s not enough to “like” them, be sure to “share” as well, they’ll notice!).
Now that I’ve mentioned five credible reasons why attorneys should reconsider LinkedIn if they are serious about growing their network and their law practice, I want to address a few concerns that have recently been expressed to me by other lawyers. These are the “I don’t like LinkedIn because” reasons:
- I don’t like LinkedIn because people used my contact info and email me porn messages and I find it offensive.
- I don’t like LinkedIn because other LinkedIn members connect with me, then immediately send me sales messages and I think it is spam.
- I don’t know how to use LinkedIn.
- I don’t like connecting with people I don’t know (or I don’t know if I should be connecting with people I don’t know).
There are more, but I’m going to just start with these because I think they are the basic fears. So here goes:
No. 1: If you don’t like LinkedIn because it appears someone has scraped your contact information from LinkedIn and emailed you porn messages, I have some good and bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first: We live in an age where there are a lot of creepy people out there who make a living or get their jollies from doing this kind of thing. Most of them are unreachable and untraceable, at least for our purposes. They have programs that scrape websites of all kinds to collect email addresses. They can scrape social media sites and any other types of websites (yes, including yours and mine and big box stores) and collect email addresses. They then can sell these lists of email addresses to spammers. If you are getting porn messages sent to you, it is highly likely your email was listed on a site that got scraped or hacked, and the list was sold–maybe many times over. The best thing you can do is to hit the delete button and move on with your life (that’s the good news). Get the best anti-virus software. Make sure you have a good email service provider that filters your email. If you are getting a whole lot of spam email and unsolicited porn messages in particular, maybe get a new email address and start using that instead. Life is too short to worry about a bunch of weirdos who get off on sending emails to try to victimize people. Don’t play into it. Delete. Delete. Delete. And don’t let their games knock you off of your game.
No. 2: If you don’t like LinkedIn because other LinkedIn members connect with you and then send you sales messages. Change your point of view. Yes, really. These people are just trying to make a living, and, bless their hearts, they just aren’t very good at it. They are playing a numbers game and doing it the hard way. Instead of using relationship skills and engaging with their prospective clients, they are just trying to jump right into bed with them. That never works. Instead of getting mad at them, though, let’s just pity the fools. And, again, DELETE. Or, if you don’t have time to delete all those messages, ignore them. It’s not your inbox. It’s LinkedIn’s inbox. Let them sit there. Unless you are compulsive. Then go ahead and delete them.
No. 3: I don’t know how to use LinkedIn: Start with the other two articles (here and here) I wrote on the subject. If after you read those, you want to know more, call me and we will schedule a time to chat about how I can help you.
No. 4: If you don’t like connecting with people you don’t know then I suggest you consider flipping your script. LinkedIn is about expansion. It’s about growing your network. Think of it this way: When you walk into a conference, do you know everyone there? Of course not! Do you hope to meet new people while you are there? Yes, of course. That’s why you go! Well, LinkedIn is like attending one big conference. Only you actually get to VET people before you connect with them. When you meet people in person, you don’t get to look at their C.V. before you decide whether it’s worth your time and energy to get to know more about them or not, but on LinkedIn, you get to do just that. LinkedIn affords you an opportunity to be intentional in your forming your professional networking. How does it get any better than that?