How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business or Practice
LinkedIn used to be old school. Sleepy, even. But as social media channels continue to burgeon, what was once deemed Sleepytown has become of the most popular ways to connect, market, learn, teach, and interact. The rise of LinkedIn video has contributed to making the platform more personal and accessible, but in general, people seem to yearn for connection beyond initial contact: They want to authentically connect with their colleagues, clients, and customers.
From a business marketing perspective, LinkedIn is the place to be. With more than 600 million active users (40% of whom use it daily), the platform is for more than just headhunters: Chances are, your prospective clients and customers are lurking there, too. And with algorithms that surface content with engaging keywords, it’s a fantastic place for them to find you.
When it comes to posting on LinkedIn, treating it as an extension of Facebook or Instagram simply won’t be effective. The professionalism of the platform calls for tact – but at the same time, crafting your profile to read like a stale resume isn’t necessarily going to help you, either. Here, we will share direct, tangible advice to use LinkedIn to your advantage to build your influence and your business.
Step 1: Revamp your profile.
Tell Them Who You Are.
First things first: Start with your headline. And no, it’s not as simple as slapping the word “attorney” or the name of your position (“Partner at ABC Law,” PLLC, or “Founder of XYZ, LLC”) in the text box. First of all, those non-descriptive monikers tell your connections NOTHING about what you do on a day to day basis, how you can help them, or what your jobs share in common. But more importantly, it won’t help you from a search perspective.
Here’s what I mean. When clients head to LinkedIn to search for attorneys in a particular practice area, think about the language they’re using. Chances are, they’ve never heard of your firm (or you) so they will type in “divorce and custody lawyer in North Carolina” or “attorney for people who’ve been injured in motorcycle accidents.” Meanwhile, if your headline simply reads “Partner at ABC Law, PLLC,” LinkedIn won’t surface your profile in that search.
I’ve learned this from experience. Until recently, my headline read, “President and Founder at Davis Legal Media, LLC.” Can you guess who consistently sent me invitations? OTHER presidents and founders of companies looking to connect with fellow entrepreneurs. Not bad, but still, not prospective clients in need of my services. Whoops. Now, I’ve changed my headline to “Marketing small law firms and legal entrepreneurs through blogging, social media, and custom ghostwritten content.” Much more descriptive, right?
Let’s return to the example of ABC Law. Imagine you’re Managing Partner and you specialize in representing victims of motorcycle accidents in the Southeast. Here’s a better headline option than “Partner at ABC Law:” “Experienced attorney helping motorcycle accident victims recover throughout South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.” Now, when someone sits down to search for a PI plaintiff’s attorney specializing in motorcycle accidents in the Southeast, there’s a much better chance your profile will surface.
Tell Them More.
Once you’ve tackled your headline, you can get to work on the rest of your profile. This is where you can share your impressive credentials, like your official title, awards and recognition, and accomplishments.
First, don’t shy away from using graphics. LinkedIn’s algorithm rewards profiles where visitors linger longer, so uninterrupted blocks of copy won’t cut it. Start by adding a quality profile cover image and if possible, make it a branded image. This can be your firm or business logo, a photo of yourself, or another quality photo that accurately represents your brand. You can even use sites like Canva to design a custom image, overlaying a quote, mission statement, or personal statement on the image. Keep in mind, though, that if you overlay text on your image, it may not show well in mobile: Your profile avatar (profile photo) will show up in the center of your header graphic rather than to the left, potentially blocking added text.
Second, in the “About” section, don’t just copy and dump your resume. This is a valuable opportunity to tell your visitors what you believe, the mission behind your business, and what you can offer them – so don’t waste the space with a laundry list of the types of cases you’ve handled or your job responsibilities. In this section, always, always use the First Person so it doesn’t sound like a resume.
Finally, take the time to fill out as many of the 11 available sections as you can. This is time-consuming, but critical, as most visitors will not read your page methodically and in order: They will jump around, scanning your experience, education, common connections, awards, and more, so give them fodder to keep them on your page longer.
PRO TIP: If you feel you simply don’t have the time to thoroughly update your profile, tackle it in small pieces: fifteen minutes here and there while waiting in the coffee line, in the doctor’s office, or in the interim between meetings and calls. If it helps, set a calendar notification to remind you to reserve ten minutes to dust off your profile.
Step 2: Turn your contacts into connections.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn isn’t just an effective marketing tool: It’s a network of professionals interested in meeting, learning from, and connecting with others. As such, the key to using LinkedIn effectively is to view it as an opportunity to not just amass contacts but to forge real connections.
That said, keep a connection mindset alive when you peruse, or post, on LinkedIn. Here are a few tips to effectively forge valuable connections:
· Make it personal. Always include a personal message when you send or receive invites to make the connection more personal. For instance, “Hi, I met you at the Bar event last week and enjoyed learning more about your practice, so I wanted to connect!” Also, avoid connecting with someone just to immediately hit them with a sales pitch. First, explain why you wanted to reach out – shared interests, common backgrounds, etc. – and relax! The sale can come later.
· Be a cheerleader. Before you self-promote, promote others! Like, comment on, and share their content. When you share another user’s post, when possible, explain why you chose to share. And don’t shy away from sharing content from competitors! Most active users will not stop to read an entire article, so pull out a quote and curate a post explaining why you found the piece insightful or impactful. It will make you look like the knowledgeable, generous one!
· Mix it up with audio and video. Some users prefer to read articles, while others enjoy watching short videos or listening to messages sent in audio form. To cater to a broad range of followers, experiment with each type of content.
· Post regularly. While the consensus is that posts receive more engagement on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, it is better to post at midnight on a Sunday rather than to save it for Tuesday, only to forget to post at all. Also, LinkedIn will surface content that receives a lot of engagement, so the more often you post and interact with others, the better. In other words, don’t get too hung up on the timing.
· Keep it relevant. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram and as such, post and curate content that is marginally related to what you do professionally. While you need not stay strictly within the confines of your business when it comes to selecting topics, it’s also not the place to share photos of your children. Post content with a bent toward your business model, values, or services. For instance, if you practice family law, share articles about how to manage family finances. Or if you represent startups and small business owners, your audience may find articles about business development topics interesting.
At the end of the day, the best way to make use of LinkedIn is to actively engage with the platform. Make a habit of regularly or semi-regularly posting, commenting, messaging, and sharing content you find interesting, and you will forge more meaningful connections – and even drive business.