Using LinkedIn to Disrupt Your Business As Usual
Part I: The Rise and Rise of LinkedIn – How to Catch the Wave?
In this two-part series on using LinkedIn as a business development tool, we discuss the rise in popularity and the importance of LinkedIn, the basics in setting up an effective LinkedIn profile for business development and some tips which can help you reach out and engage clients as you grow your business.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 540 million users focused on business networking. According to the Pew Research Centre, LinkedIn usage is especially high amongst those with tertiary education and annual salaries above US$75,000.
Is Your Firm Already on LinkedIn?
Most large and medium sized law firms in Singapore have a presence on LinkedIn as part of its online identity, and these are often set up by the marketing teams. However, it is not uncommon to see that the platform is underutilised by the firm’s most important stakeholder — its lawyers. This is a missed opportunity for business development. To effectively tap into the potential of LinkedIn, lawyers and their marketing team need to work closely together for both teams’ efforts in business development to be amplified.
Why is it Important?
Digital disruption means it is no longer an option to stick to just using offline marketing techniques. A 2014 IDC study showed that 85% of C-suite and senior executives use social media when making purchasing decisions. Using platforms like LinkedIn, these potential clients take into consideration peer input, review profile information and knowledge-sharing activities when assessing potential counsel. Hence, there is a significant probability that your LinkedIn profile becomes the very first impression for a new prospect.
Traditional, in-person client engagement and marketing events remain extremely important, but they need not be the only tool in your business development toolkit. Online social marketing is fast becoming a strong complement to a lawyer’s holistic business development strategy.
It is also useful to note that social marketing platforms like LinkedIn are low-cost and user-friendly tools. First and foremost, it is free-to-join. Some research have estimated that it costs 75% less to generate leads via online social marketing than any other channels.1Social Selling Reduces the Cost per Lead, 2014.
There is no denying that it takes effort to incorporate online social marketing into your business strategy. However, it is always useful to get started early and in Part I of our article, I would like to share some quick steps to help you set up a new profile or improving your existing one. These steps are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a starting point to help you build an effective profile.
Getting Started – The Basics to Building a Great LinkedIn Profile
As the first impression for your prospects, your LinkedIn profile is a key component of your online brand and how you establish trust early on. So it is important for you to develop a robust and professional online profile.
Step 1: Upload a Professional Photo
According to statistics provided by LinkedIn, profiles with photos receive a 40% higher connection response rate. Most of us like to see who we are connecting with. Consider how you normally present yourself to your clients and upload a photo which is a good representation of that. Use photo editing in moderation.
Step 2: Provide a Useful Title
Your title is the first thing people see in your profile after your photo and is displayed along with your name in the Google search results, so ensure that it communicates who you are in a useful and concise manner. For example, “Associate” is not as impactful or relevant as “Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer”. A well-articulated and differentiated title also helps to make you more searchable online and will increase profile views.
Step 3: Include Your Summary and Experience
After your photo and title, the most commonly read portion of your profile is the summary. Use this opportunity to tell your story and include keywords which a prospective client would focus on when they are looking for a lawyer like you. Think about it from the perspective of someone trying to determine if you are the right lawyer for them. For example, a General Counsel looking for an IP lawyer may search keywords like “patent”, “copyright”, “trademark infringement”, “IP-related disputes”, “negotiate licensing agreements” and “IP commercialisation strategy”. Hence, it will be important to include these words in your summary.
Step 4: Personalise Your LinkedIn Web Address
An easy-to-read and personalised public profile web address is a great addition to signatures and business cards and will make you more easily found in search engine results. The default web address assigned to you by LinkedIn may be an unwieldy www.LinkedIn.com/in/roy-ang-982749y8. Hence, you should consider creating a web address that is easy to remember and one that closely matches your name. For example, mine is www.LinkedIn.com/in/royangcm. If you think that your name is common, then I would suggest you get started on changing the URL sooner rather than later!
Step 5: Connect/ Follow Your Law Firm’s, Client’s and Competitor’s LinkedIn Page
By following your law firm’s page, you will see the latest news, developments and posts from your firm by your colleagues. This is especially useful if you are part of a global or regional outfit which may have interesting initiatives and developments in offices that you are not familiar with. You will also see notifications when someone mentions your company, in a LinkedIn post or other media coverage.
By following your client’s page, you can be kept up-to-date on their developments (eg new business ventures, C-suite executive appointments, financial announcements) and whenever they appear in the news. Similarly, it can be useful to keep up-to-date with your competitors’ developments (eg new service, major transactions, senior partner moves) which can complement what you already know from your existing network of friends in the legal community.
The steps listed above are some of the best practices for setting up an effective LinkedIn profile for business development, but these are not intended to be exhaustive. As you set up or tweak your LinkedIn account, you will gradually uncover new ways to improve on it, and to develop one which suits your style and corporate personality.
In Part II of this LinkedIn series which will be published in the next issue of the Law Gazette, we will discuss techniques to use LinkedIn to expand your business. Stay tuned!
|Social Selling Reduces the Cost per Lead, 2014.