Susan Kench and Emily Miller explain how LinkedIn can help family law solicitors to attract potential clients, even if they’re not LinkedIn members
In a previous article for the Law Management Section we discussed how LinkedIn is an effective ally for solicitors – working within smaller law firms or as sole practitioners – looking for time and money-saving methods to help grow their practices.
But what in particular can LinkedIn offer family law practitioners?
LinkedIn is a highly effective networking tool for building productive business to business relationships with key influencers, which for family law solicitors would include: other solicitors; IFAs; wealth mangers and even counsellors. However, in this article we will focus on how to use LinkedIn to attract potential clients, who may not be LinkedIn members, directly.
Before a potential client picks up the phone or clicks on the send button, they may have already spent some time on Goggle looking for information and advice. Meeting this demand for knowledge with clear, concise and relevant content, written in layman’s terms, will go a long way to positioning yourself as the legal adviser of choice when that potential client decides to contact a solicitor.
LinkedIn Pulse - LinkedIn’s self-publishing feature for long-form posts offers an easy and free way to increase your visibility – both on LinkedIn and Google – and establishes your credibility as the go-to family law specialist. The ‘Publish a post’ feature can be accessed from your Homepage – highlighted in yellow in the screenshot below).
Posting informative and relevant content is as easy as using Word. Just copy and paste from a Word doc or write the content straight in. Make sure to add a title containing key words that describe the article AND are the most likely Google search terms used by potential clients to find the information you are supplying. Adding an image will help professionalise your article. You can find free images on http://www.freedigitalphotos.net. At the bottom of your post you will be invited to: ‘Add tags so it is easier for people to find your post’. Add three key words or phrases here that describe your post. Although LinkedIn offers a prescribed list, this is still a good way to gain more visibility on Google searches.
Once published, your first-degree connections and followers will receive a notification that you’ve added a post. It will also appear on their homepages and on your profile (just below your photo), and be accessible via Pulse, to all LinkedIn members. Most importantly, long-form posts on LinkedIn are public and can be seen by anyone, whether or not they have a LinkedIn account. So if relevant keywords are included, your post could potentially appear on page 1 for a Google search on that topic.
Google loves LinkedIn. Google searches on your name not only bring up your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) but also any of your LinkedIn posts. So the more relevant content you can produce, the more visible and therefore credible you become to people seeking you out online.
TIP: To increase the likelihood of coming up nearer the top of page 1 for a Google search on your name (especially if you have a common name) customise your LinkedIn profile’s Public URL.
To customise your URL, hover your cursor over the link below your photograph (see the URL highlighted in yellow in the example above). A wheel/cog will appear on the right-hand side. Click on this to land on your public profile where you can change your URL (top right-hand side of the page) by clicking on the cross. If your name hasn’t already been taken, you can select your name as your URL (no spaces, dots or hyphens). If your name is not available, use your name plus a keyword/phrase (up to a maximum of 29 characters) i.e. the service you want to be found for. You can change your URL up to three times.
For family law practitioners your individual professional brand is paramount and your reputation as the ‘trusted adviser’ needs to be consistently reinforced.
A well-written, information-rich LinkedIn profile offers a much deeper insight into your professional personality – your ‘brand’ – than a CV or staff profile on your firm’s website can ever provide. And, if your profile is not up to scratch, not only are you missing out on using LinkedIn to raise your credibility online, but it could also count against you: an incomplete LinkedIn profile appearing on page 1 of Google on a search for your name is far from impressive.
With that in mind, here are three ways to use LinkedIn to support your professional brand online:
Generally speaking, people buy people and online engagement rates are always higher if images and/or photos are included. More specifically, profiles with photographs are 11 times more likely to be viewed in a LinkedIn search. So when your prospective client finds your profile on Google, make sure they see a photograph that conveys a professional and approachable individual.
Your Summary is a key section of your profile and appearing just below your photo section, may be the only thing your prospect spends anytime reading. So here’s where you pitch yourself as ‘trusted adviser’. Think about what your client wants to know, rather than what you want to tell them; maybe explain what motivates you to do this kind of work and, if you’re looking for new clients, include an invitation to get in touch with contact details. To add a Summary, click on ‘View More’ in ‘Add a section to your profile’ – both highlighted in the screenshot below).
As explained in the ‘Valuable content’ section of ‘Boost your visibility and credibility’ above, using LinkedIn’s self-publishing feature is a highly effective way to pitch yourself as an expert in your field. Short, professionally produced videos – easily added to your Summary or Experience sections – that convey your ‘trusted adviser’ qualities offer another opportunity for your profile to stand out.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for demonstrating knowledge and reinforcing professional brands. Developing a stand-out profile and creating some informative content will build your online presence and, ultimately, attract more of your ideal clients.
Susan Kench and Emily Miller are LinkedIn trainers at Marshall Walker Associates, an independent LinkedIn training company. It specialises in helping professionals in the legal, accountancy and wealth management sectors improve their presence on LinkedIn and to use LinkedIn as an effective tool to support their business development and marketing activities. It provides a range of services, including online training.
If you have any questions on the ideas or suggestions raised in this article or if you would like to discuss how LinkedIn could support your firm’s business development strategy, please contact Emily Miller or Susan Kench or visit our website.
Emily Miller is co-author of LinkedIn for Lawyers: Developing a Profile to Grow Your Practice.