Attention all social media-phobes: LinkedIn has become one of the easiest, cheapest and most productive marketing tools at your disposal.  If you don’t have an active LinkedIn profile, invest in the next two minutes to find out why it’s important and how you can take advantage of this remarkable business tool.

(Today I welcome guest blogger Kathleen Cummins, an expert on marketing implementation for professional services firms.)

LinkedIn is only 12 years old but has over 375 million users worldwide, 40% of whom check LinkedIn every single day.  A 2011 BTI survey of corporate counsel identified that in selecting outside counsel, respondents used on-line sources more than any other resource.  Their most popular on-line source?  LinkedIn was by far the most frequently used resource.

Yet a surprising number of lawyers do not have a LinkedIn profile.  As a test, I recently searched for the LinkedIn profiles of 85 Managing Partners of local law firms.  These are chief representatives of their firms in the business community and often, leaders in their respective fields of law.  Yet I found that only 41 of the 85 had a LinkedIn profile.  And of those, the vast majority were static: they had only very basic profiles with very little information to help differentiate them in any way from their competitors.

Why is an active LinkedIn profile so important to your business?

  1. Anyone who has analyzed law firm website traffic reports knows that the top pages are always the lawyer biographies.  Clients go there to get a sense of the lawyer’s capabilities and experience, to see their face, or to be reassured of their decision after the fact. Surveys indicate that clients and targets are still looking for this info, but now go more frequently to LinkedIn than to your website.  Imagine what it says about your lawyers if they have either no profile on LinkedIn, or a poor one.
  2. LinkedIn users obtain even more valuable information on the lawyer by viewing that lawyer’s groups, network, endorsements, recently published materials, comments on other published materials, etc.  In this way they get a better sense for how active that lawyer is within a particular industry or area of law – something a website bio struggles to get across.
  3. Every time you make a change to your LinkedIn profile, change your status or submit a comment, that information goes out to your entire network of contacts.  This occurs as a long scrolling list of updates by their contacts, usually viewed daily.  It’s not intrusive, it’s an extremely efficient way to maintain information on a network, and it keeps your name top of mind with critical contacts.
  4. New anti-spam legislation in Canada limits our ability to connect with target clients by email; but we can send a LinkedIn connection request in mere seconds.
  5. Once you become more active on LinkedIn, it begins to act as your personal marketing assistant.  It will seek out suggestions for people to add to your network; it will make it easy for you to consider endorsing your contacts for special skills.  And it does all of this for the other viewers of LinkedIn as well, prompting others to consider linking with you and endorsing you. As there is no cost for a basic profile in LinkedIn, this product will quickly becomes a free and powerful personal marketing assistant for you and your practice.

Often, lawyers down-play the validity and effectiveness of marketing tools they don’t understand.  It’s true that for the new user, social media can seem complicated, time consuming and of little value.  But like all good marketing, this is about picking and choosing those elements that can provide you with the greatest returns for the least amount of effort.  On that basis, LinkedIn is a no-brainer.

 (Kathleen Cummins is a marketing consultant focussed on law firms.  Convinced you need an active LinkedIn profile but feeling nervous or overwhelmed by the prospect?  Kathleen regularly works with lawyers on the initial creation of a strong profile, and can also assist with regular updates. She can be reached at 604 787-0507).