It’s ironic that lawyers – the very people who are trusted to solve our most stressful, confusing, often life-changing legal problems – rank among the least trusted professionals.
According to Forbes, lawyers are at the bottom of the trust rankings along with politicians and car salespeople.
While I know that’s an unfair view of the legal profession, it’s not going away any time soon.
You see, people deal with lawyers during stressful, often confusing, times of their lives.
No one wants a lawyer, but at times people need a lawyer.
And despite that need for a legal solution, the clients are often terrified of the process, the potential consequences of it and, of course, the cost.
All of these challenges make it difficult to break the long-held stereotypes of lawyers as untrustworthy, fearmongering money-grabbers.
As a lawyer, you need to overcome many hurdles to make connections and build trust to attract clients.
But don’t let that hold you back from connecting with people and growing your legal practice – not when you have the simplest, fastest, most effective business platform to get people to know, like and trust you.
That’s LinkedIn, of course!
How you as a lawyer can benefit from using LinkedIn:
- expand your network with your ideal prospects
- build stronger relationships with potential referrers
- position yourself as a trusted authority in your area of law within your community
- showcase yourself as a force for good and increase top of mind awareness
- tap into LinkedIn as a major source of lead generation.
LinkedIn is the perfect platform for lawyers to grow their networks and practices, quickly and sustainably.
Old-school methods of getting clients, such as face-to-face networking and referrals, still work. But they take an awful lot of time to bear fruit. That’s time you don’t have if your client pipeline isn’t full and your monthly billable hours are down.
But if you can overcome people’s initial hesitations and prejudices about lawyers, provide free insight and value to them upfront and build relationships with them, their walls will come down. They’ll have no problem trusting and working with you or referring clients to you.
I have helped thousands of professionals in high-trust professions, including lawyers, to connect and build relationships of trust with their ideal clients. That’s why in this article, I want to show how you, as a lawyer, can build a trusted, respected personal brand that attracts your ideal clients and establishes strong relationships with your referral partners.
Lawyers’ Guide to Using LinkedIn
Establish trust by showing warmth and competence
Let me ask you a question.
When it comes to choosing a lawyer, what’s one of the biggest factors influencing a client’s decision?
In a word: trust.
Trust is even more important than cost.
In most cases, if your client knows you have the solution they are looking for and they trust you, they will find a way to pay for your solution.
But if the client doesn’t trust you, they won’t give you a dime of their money. Nothing else will matter.
Quite simply, people buy from people they know, like and trust.
How does one establish trust, particularly through online marketing activities?
Studies have shown we judge people on two key traits: warmth and competence, both relevant and important to your law practice.
These two traits must be present in your online interactions, images and content if you hope to establish the know, like and trust factor with your customers.
A study by Susan T. Fiske, Amy J.C. Cuddy and Peter Glick identified three key aspects related to social perceptions of warmth and competence.
First, you must convey warmth and competence no matter who your customers are, where they are from or how old they might be.
Second, if you lack warmth and competence, you will be perceived negatively.
Third, people are able to recognize and judge warmth (or lack of it) faster and better than competence.
That’s why it’s incredibly important for you to exude warmth authentically in all your interactions. Don’t underestimate the value and importance of warmth in business. This trait is vital for everyone to have, especially for lawyers.
But while warmth is the biggest contributor to the know and like factors, competence is a must to establish trust.
That’s why it’s equally important for you to come across as competent to your potential clients.
Potential customers need to see you as smart, capable and reliable – a person who will get the job done.
When people assess your competence, they assess whether you are knowledgeable, skilled and capable. People will also look closely at your track record.
Keep the factors of both warmth and competence in mind as you use LinkedIn or any other digital platform to connect with your ideal clients.
Who are your ideal clients or referral partners, and what language do they use?
Knowing the type of work you want to do and whom you want to work with is critical in leveraging LinkedIn for lead generation, but it is often overlooked.
As a starting point, consider the following questions:
- In a perfect world, what does your ideal client look like?
- Whom do you enjoy working with today?
- Whom do you want to spend more time working with?
- Do you already have a relationship with some of these people?
- If not, can you find more people like these on LinkedIn?
- Who are your best referral sources?
- Could your current referral sources introduce you to similar people or companies?
Answer these questions to strategically target and connect with the people and companies that can open the doors to the work you want the most.
Once you figure out whom you want to work with, you’ll then need to:
- learn the language they use to communicate their needs and challenges
- discover the words they specifically search for when looking for someone who does what you do.
You will then use the language and specific keywords your potential clients use in your LinkedIn profile, status updates and shared content.
This will help them find you and prove to them you are someone who understands their industry and challenges and can provide the solution they are looking for.
Create a compelling and professional LinkedIn profile
Now that you know whom you’re targeting and what language to use to speak to them, it’s time to create a client-centered LinkedIn profile, speaking to your ideal clients.
What do I mean by that?
Well, it’s easy to make a LinkedIn profile that’s all about you. Such a profile won’t draw people in. People don’t care about you or your business. They care only about what you can do for them.
Your profile should certainly share information about you. But if you want your profile to resonate with your ideal clients, you must focus on showcasing the ways you can help them. Shine a light on how your expertise and experience can solve the problems your ideal clients face.
You also want your profile to:
- be easily found when someone searches for the type of law you practice
- intrigue people, prompting them to connect with and learn more about you.
It all starts with your headline. To get your ideal clients’ attention, your headline needs to be more than “Partner at Smith, Smith and Johnson Law Firm.”
That will NOT capture anyone’s attention.
Instead, you should highlight your skills and ways in which you solve your targets’ problems.
For example: “20 Years of Strategic Experience Managing Complex Mergers and Acquisitions for Fortune 500 Companies” or “An experienced lawyer who is passionate about protecting the rights of injured people.”
Take the guesswork out of creating a powerful and client-focused headline by using our free LinkedIn Headline Generator.
Once you’ve created an attention-grabbing headline, fill out your About section.
Here, you have 2,600 characters (NOT words) to craft a story that reveals your background and why you’re passionate about what you do. It’s also a place to highlight your achievements to enhance your credibility.
Include information about who your ideal clients are, the problems they face and how you solve them. To help you build trust between you and your potential clients, speak directly to them so they feel you understand them.
When you write your About section, remember the importance of coming across as warm and competent.
If you’re wondering what information to include in your profile, ask yourself: “Is what I’m writing relevant to my clients’ problems? Do I highlight their pain points and offer insights or solutions?” Anything that doesn’t pass that test shouldn’t be in your profile.
When possible, include rich media such as videos, slide shows and PDFs you have written for your website or used in presentations. It’s an extra opportunity to highlight your skills and knowledge.
If you have any video clips of yourself speaking, you can add those to your LinkedIn profile. Video is an amazing humanizer, allowing you to convey warmth, create a connection with the viewer and make them feel as if they know you without ever meeting you. This gives you a real head start when it comes to connecting and starting a conversation with your ideal clients.
Leverage your network
Word of mouth is as important online as it is in the real word.
Where have some of your best clients come from? Likely, you received them as direct referrals from clients (past or present) or professionals in different industries who target the same market as you.
Lawyers’ clients often overlap with the clients of accountants, financial advisors, realtors, and medical professionals.
In fact, many law practices and careers have been built through a handful of consistent cross-referral partnerships. This is where the phrase “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” becomes extremely relevant.
Building relationships with other businesses or professionals with similar audiences and complementary products or services is an often-missed opportunity on LinkedIn.
If you focus only on getting clients – which is the primary aim of your marketing activities, of course – you’ll fail to build a network of strategic partners, critical for broadening your sources of potential clients.
Start by reaching out to people who know and trust you within your existing network. Continue to expand your reach by asking your trusted network to make further introductions for you and offer to do the same for them.
You can widen your search for a potential partner by using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
When you find a good match, send them a concise, personalized connection request, and initiate a conversation by showing interest in them or their business.
Status updates and sharing content
It’s important to regularly share something on LinkedIn – be it a thought, a question, or educational content – to give insight into who you are as well as provide value to your ideal clients and demonstrate your expertise to them.
But remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. People go there to do business, so make sure anything you share is relevant to your ideal clients.
When you post, ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the goal of this post?
- Will this post provide value and insight?
- What problem or challenge does it solve for your ideal clients?
- Does it build your brand and increase your authority in your field?
- If you saw this post in your newsfeed, would you like, comment on, or share it?
Always think about your audience, how you’re helping them, and what action you want them to take.
As a lawyer, you have plenty of relevant content to share, no matter which area of law you practice.
News and industry websites are full of stories about court cases or laws to be passed. Share such stories while commenting on them, providing your insight. Your background as a lawyer gives your opinion more weight than that of a layperson. It is a perfect way to build authority and demonstrate your expertise as a lawyer with very little effort.
Writing articles on LinkedIn Publisher gives you a platform to establish authority, credibility and trust.
According to DemandMetric, 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content, and 90% of consumers find custom content useful. As a result, custom content makes consumers more likely to take action.
In other words, publishing your own articles is an opportunity to showcase your knowledge, provide value and solve a problem or challenge for your audience upfront, which will build trust between you and them.
Articles also appear in the article box on your profile. Think of it as a shop window into your skills and expertise.
When coming up with content ideas, think about your audience and whether what you write is relevant and helpful to them.
Engage with your LinkedIn network
Having conversations on LinkedIn is key to building relationships and establishing trust.
Speak to people using the language they use (do NOT use your legal jargon) and, most importantly, ask them questions about themselves and/or their businesses!
Show them you are interested in helping them be successful. Engage authentically, and make your engagement about the other person, not about you.
The fastest way to build trust is to be helpful, answer questions and follow people who interest you and who appear to be good prospects for referrals.
The LinkedIn advantage for lawyers
LinkedIn marketing has three distinct advantages over traditional legal marketing methods:
- LinkedIn is less expensive than traditional legal marketing. Setting up a profile and building relationships is free (unless you hire someone to do it for you). Doing this right is vital, so consider investing time and money into creating a professional profile and messaging, ensuring you are seen as a trusted legal expert by your ideal clients.
- You can reach the right people with your message faster. You can laser-focus on your ideal clients and referral partners through online searches to avoid wasting time and effort on the wrong audience.
- Establish trust with a community of potential clients. Building trust one person at a time can be time-consuming. Using LinkedIn, you can easily scale your efforts to increase trust and establish your authority as a legal expert with an entire community of your ideal clients.
According to the American Bar Association, 90% of lawyers are now on LinkedIn, but this doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. In fact, most are not!
You have a big opportunity to stand out from the pack by concentrating your efforts on building your authority and increasing trust between you and your ideal clients.
Your ideal clients won’t magically fall into your lap, but if you:
- discover who they are, the language they use and what’s important to them
- create a personal brand that inspires trust and authority
- provide them with valuable insight and information upfront that addresses their challenges
- commit to spending as little as 15 minutes a day connecting, sharing and engaging on LinkedIn…
…you will never have to fear being seen as an old cliché – untrustworthy, money-grabbing or fear-mongering lawyer. Instead, you will be seen as a trusted legal expert by the people who most want and need your services!
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