You’ve been hearing all the buzz about social marketing and so far, you’ve resisted getting on the bandwagon. Well, it’s time to jump in the fray and sign up! The main benefit to social networking is that it expands your network and gives you the opportunity to interact with, learn from and market to a variety of people. LinkedIn is the social media outlet of choice for business professionals and could be your ace in the hole that takes your practice to the next level! This business networking tool will allow you to extend your reach beyond your current clients and colleagues and tap into a near limitless sea of potential clients and/or resources. In fact, many law firms encourage and some even require partners to establish LinkedIn accounts. All that sounds great, doesn’t it? So how do you get started? The first step is to register.
Once you’ve visited www.linkedin.com and set up your account, it’s time to build your profile. Before you begin, first take a moment to determine what you would like to accomplish on LinkedIn. Do you want to expand your professional network? Promote your skills and expertise as a draw for new clientele? Raise your visibility as an expert in your specialty? Once you determine your goal for LinkedIn, this will help you decide the types of contact you will accept from other LinkedIn users. Within the profile section, there are eight different contact settings which describe specific reasons for direct contact. To select your preferences, click on “edit contact settings” and choose the types of contact you will accept. Make sure to add a current photo to your profile. It adds a personal touch and also boosts credibility.
Your next course of action should be creating your profile summary. This information is showcased at the top of your LinkedIn profile and gives readers a glimpse of who you are and what you do. It is critical that you provide a brief but informative overview which will draw readers in to further investigate your background and experience. Make sure you include your most relevant experience and information to attract your target audience. Remember, the more targeted your information, the easier it will be for people to find you. This is your opportunity to inform others of your expertise. Since this information is readily available and searchable on Google, just completing your profile will immediately increase your visibility.
The next essential step in your setup process is your employment history. Since LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professionals, this is one of the most important aspects of your profile. LinkedIn has an immense company directory built into the site which can help you connect with past colleagues. For each company in your employment history, fill in the company name, you fill in the full name of the company, your job title, the time frame of your employment, and a description of your job duties. It is a good idea to have a copy of your biography or CV handy while completing this portion of your profile to insure your dates are accurate and that all pertinent information is included. As your practice develops and expands, remember to come back often and update your current employment information.
After completing the employment section, you’ll next tackle your education. Just click on the “add education” link and you’ll get another helpful form. You’ll notice that when you select the state, LinkedIn will provide a pull-down menu containing a list of schools from which to choose. Enter your degree, your major, dates attended and any relevant accolades or accomplishments.
LinkedIn profiles also provide a section where you can list your specific skills and expertise which potential clients may be searching for. Here’s an example:
You’ll notice pictures next to specific skills and expertise. This feature allows clients to endorse your experience. This feature is a GOLDMINE and an excellent way to get your name out there. So don’t be afraid to ask clients to endorse you on LinkedIn.
To add more impact to your profile, LinkedIn has recently added additional sections which provide the opportunity to emphasize a wide variety of events including:
You can also select applications through which you can provide your lawyer ratings, highlight upcoming travel for seminars, conventions, etc., showcase slide share presentations which exemplify your expertise in your practice area, and LinkedIn will continue to add to these applications as new ones become available. Another perk LinkedIn provides is the opportunity to share your web sites, interests, groups and associations. Once you’ve completed all the sections, review your profile as others will see it by clicking on the “view profile” tab. Once you’ve determined that all the information is accurate and is formatted as you like it, the last step is to set your profile for public view so people on LinkedIn who are not in your network can find you. To do this, click on “edit public profile settings” on the right, select “full view” and choose the features you want to be visible to anyone who finds your profile. Make sure to save your changes.
Now that your profile is complete, one way to immediately increase your visibility is locate colleagues and friends on LinkedIn and send them invitations to connect. Once you connect with those you already know, you will immediately be visible to their contacts, also. You’ll also have the ability to review their contacts and then send invites to those who provide beneficial networking opportunities.
While utilizing LinkedIn, there are 5 points to remember:
- While on LinkedIn, your focus should not only be selling. The value of your expertise and open sharing of resources and ideas is well worth the time investment alone. Being able to tap others for references or to recommend someone you know to a connection has incredible value and is super easy to do. Reviewing new connections' profiles and then their network can give you opportunities to join new conversation groups and to connect with people with common interests in your industry. To do this, you can either introduce yourself to a new connection directly (if they have that option enabled) or ask your common connection to introduce you. Remember, you get five free introductions with your LinkedIn account set up. After that, you can buy more.
- Responding to "Questions and Answers" can help to educate you and to share your knowledge with others. Each time you answer a question the information is posted to your profile allowing others to see your insight and style.
- Asking for a recommendation is easy and painless. You can even ask for a revision gracefully if you do not like what someone has said, and you have the option to post the recommendation or not in your profile. If you decide to use the recommendation on other sites or in print media outside the LinkedIn site, best business practices recommend that you ask the author for approval. What a great way to build your authority for your services and products in an easy, unthreatening, and painless way.
- Have fun and invest 15 minutes each day to add new connections either from new prospects you have had the previous business day or by reviewing connections of your connections and looking for common ground to connect with new people.
Looking for more helpful information? Need expert career counseling? Visit www.grimeslegal.com or call 800-875-3820.