A Strategic Staged Approach to LinkedIn

Our firm recently launched a LinkedIn Campaign for Lawyers which encouraged all lawyers to create and maintain a profile on LinkedIn. Hicks Morley has a company profile on LinkedIn that contains the profiles of approximately 80 members. While a company account is beneficial to set up as a way to gain access to these profiles, the real marketing benefit comes from the exposure of individual lawyer profiles.

LinkedIn was chosen as the primary social media marketing tool for the following reasons:

  • Business oriented professional online directory 
  • Key resource for subject matter experts, referrals & new clients
  • Ability to connect with clients already on LinkedIn
  • Helps build a lawyer’s personal brand
  • Highly ranked in search results for a lawyer’s name 
  • Easy to create and maintain individual profiles

The first phase of our campaign involved teaching lawyers how to create profiles and accept LinkedIn invitations through Outlook or LinkedIn. Training was highly recommended for associates because of LinkedIn’s networking capability and potential for business development. Partners were also encouraged to attend the training.During the training sessions we highlighted the benefits of LinkedIn and the low maintenance involved with creating and updating profiles.

Keeping the training simple was the key to the success of the roll-out. We deliberately chose not to teach the advanced features of LinkedIn so the time spent creating a profile was minimal and would not overwhelm first time users. Trainers highlighted the following five profile sections to help increase professional and firm exposure:

  1. Professional Headline & Photo –Profiles look more professional with a photo and correct headline
  2. Summary of Professional Experience & Specialties–Keywords in job summary and specialities make lawyers easier to find
  3. Past Experience –Help to build a network that includes past colleagues who could be referral sources or potential clients 
  4. Education – Ditto for past school mates
  5. Website Links –Help drive traffic to the firm website and blog and each lawyer’s bio on the website 

Initially the training also included sending LinkedIn invites using the “People You May Know” feature, but this resulted in invites being sent around the firm. Since our use of LinkedIn was not to connect with existing colleagues but focus more on the content of the profile and accepting invites, a decision was made to remove this from the training. Lawyers will discover how to send invitations as they become more comfortable with the software. 

Our second phase has just launched and addresses existing user profiles on LinkedIn. A quick scan of current profiles before the project started, revealed the need for consistent terminology regarding the company name, job title, etc. This phase will most likely involve quick one-on-one sessions with users that need help editing their profile. Eventually we also plan to offer training for advanced users on the more interactive features of LinkedIn such as adding upcoming speaking engagements as Events; Slide Share presentations; and Blog posts or Twitter status updates to profiles.

LinkedIn can be a really effective marketing tool that requires very little time investment to keep profiles current but has the potential for big returns in terms of personal branding, network building and business development. Since many lawyers, clients, journalists and potential referral sources are already on LinkedIn, it made sense to make this a strategic marketing initiative for 2010 and 2011.

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