Using LinkedIn to Disrupt Your Business As Usual (Part II)
In the previous issue of the Law Gazette, I had discussed the rise in importance of LinkedIn for law firms and some key pointers to note when setting up your profile.
Part II: Find Your Sweet Spot – Using LinkedIn to Mine Your Own Business
In this second part, I will discuss business development strategies and techniques, using LinkedIn as a platform. Some of the strategies discussed here can be applied beyond LinkedIn and can apply to your personal business development plans as well.
Step 1: Define the Ideal Client
There are many academic and empirical studies on this topic, but without going too much into the details, below are three quick tips which I think are helpful and easy to execute:
- Know who you are: You cannot determine your ideal client if you do not have a strong understanding of who you are and the type of firm you are in. Even if you are in a mega full-service international law firm, you alone cannot serve every client type and matter. You will need to ask yourself, and it is key to be brutally honest with yourself here, who actually benefits the most from your expertise. It is not enough to determine who you want to benefit most; you need to identify who is actually finding value in your legal expertise.
- Know your clients’ needs: Hypothesise and test what your clients’ needs and objectives are. Find out their buying process and strategy through meetings with prospective clients and interviewing your best existing clients.
- Know who your clients are currently receiving their advice from: Identifying your competitors will help you determine what you need to do to differentiate yourself from them. This can include your ability to provide cross-border legal advice, greater partner involvement, industry insights, alternative fee arrangements and so on.
Combining the insights from these three tips, you should be able to determine the profile of your ideal client and whether digital marketing or LinkedIn will be effective for you in reaching them. If digital marketing works for your ideal client profile, we will move on to the next step.
Step 2: Position Yourself as a Trusted Adviser to Your Client
With your insights from step 1, you can now curate your LinkedIn profile with the client in mind. Instead of moulding your profile based on your achievements, focus on showing prospective clients how you can serve their needs and be their trusted adviser.
Hence, instead of simply listing your professional accomplishments, it is important to ensure your profile relates more directly to helping the client understand what you can do for them. Some techniques include:
- Listing a couple of significant track records or deals you have done which your clients can benefit from. This technique helps you to pass the “so what?” test by explaining what makes the deal you worked on important to a prospective client. This can include matters that set precedent for future regulations in an industry, or will be of widespread application across industries. This is an example of what you could write: “Successfully represented client in the Court of Appeal – Party A v Party B  SGCA XXX. Resulted in a significant decision on Singapore’s data protection and employment laws which impacts the duty of care of companies in revealing employee information to external service providers”.
- Post content which your clients find relevant. For example, publishing a commentary on LinkedIn on an upcoming legal development is a useful way to engage your connections and to show your depth of knowledge on this issue.
- Like, share and comment on your client’s (relevant) updates. This helps to keep your profile first-in-mind with your first-degree connections and their network.
Step 3: Find Your Ideal Prospects
There are two simple ways to do this:
- Build a list of possible leads or prospects with LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to focus on those with whom you can make the strongest connections.
- Join LinkedIn Groups which provide opportunities to meet and engage in discussions with members of your industry, your alumni community or other professional interest areas. Demonstrate your expertise by starting discussions and participating thoughtfully. You are also able to contact fellow group members directly through LinkedIn.
Step 4: Build Your Connections
You can ask someone to join your professional network by sending them an invitation to connect. If they accept, they become your first-degree connections. To get started, below are some quick tips on what to include in an invitation:
- Include a salutation.
- Remind the recipient how you know them or why it would be great for both of you to connect.
- Request introductions through their extended networks. Send personalised mail as a follow-up to a warm introduction.
- Identify matters of concern in a prospect’s organisation and share relevant content.
Step 5: Engaging Your Connections on LinkedIn
There are two things to remember in audience engagement:
- People are more keen to connect with someone who can solve their problems rather than someone wanting to sell them something.
- Be authentic and personable. You can do so by concentrating less on the sales angle and more about sharing quality content and building relationships.
Another tool you could tap on is the “Share” function. Beside your photo on the top left hand corner of your LinkedIn home page is the “Share” function, an update box that allows you to share articles and blog entries. In addition to providing links to articles, you can comment on what you have shared. Avoid being too self-promotional and offer updates that prospects or customers will find insightful, useful or provocative.
It is also useful for you to publish thought leadership posts. The notifications tab also provides opportunities to engage with your connections. Congratulate them on a new job or work anniversary, comment on a shared update or like a post. These engagement tactics take only a few seconds yet contribute to your overall visibility on LinkedIn.
Finally, monitor LinkedIn profiles to engage with clients when they change jobs, have work anniversaries, post updates, take part in discussions or make new connections.
Step 6: Build Your Personal (Professional) Brand Online
LinkedIn is not your resume; it is your online reputation. Here are some tips on how to build that reputation:
- Get recommendations: Get colleagues, employers and, even better, customers who can speak credibly about your abilities and contributions to write a recommendation for you. Ask them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait. Conversely, make meaningful comments when you recommend others (ie, how you describe others and your experience with them says as much about you as who you are recommending). Think quality, not quantity – and be authentic.
- Give and receive endorsements: Skill endorsements are a great way to recognise your first-degree connections’ skills and expertise with one click. They also let your connections validate the strengths on your own profile. Endorsements help keep strong connections with the people in your network.
Creating a profile is often the easiest part of your LinkedIn journey. The real work comes after that, and you will need to dedicate time to not just build up your network, but also to engage and keep in touch with your connections. After all, keeping yourself first-in-mind is crucial in business development.
The tips I have shared in parts I and II of this series are not exhaustive and you should feel free to explore and try your own ways of generating interest and see if it works.
But always be genuine, be humble and be communicative.