We all know about Facebook and LinkedIn, but are you aware of their huge potential to help expand a law practice? In a fast-paced and information-packed webinar that is the fourth in ElderLawAnswers’ marketing funnel series, law firm marketing expert Stephen Fairley explained how to leverage both these social media platforms to generate leads and referrals.
Fairley, who is the founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, which specializes in marketing and lead conversion for small- to medium-sized law firms, told his listeners that using Facebook and LinkedIn has the potential to “radically transform” the way elder law attorneys practice law, generate and convert leads, and get referrals. He said that Facebook is a great way to connect with potential clients, while LinkedIn can be a key to building referral relationships.
In Part 1 of this two-part article, we presented Fairley’s recommended strategies for getting client leads from Facebook. In Part 2 below, he explains how LinkedIn can be a referral goldmine.
LinkedIn’s Referral Goldmine
Fairley described LinkedIn as a “powerful tool” for generating referrals. Most attorneys are on LinkedIn but many aren’t making much use of it. Given the volume and demographics of users, Fairley said they should be. LinkedIn has more than 120 million users in the U.S., and the average household income of a typical user is $109,000. Meanwhile, 70 percent of buyers use LinkedIn to check out referrals. “When someone searches your name,” Fairley said, “the first thing that should come up is your website. Next Avvo and probably your LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. That’s a demographic you want to target when it comes to getting referrals.”
How to accomplish this? Fairley offered eight steps, noting that every strategy he recommends can be done on LinkedIn’s free account; none requires the premium service. “Ninety percent of lawyers don’t need the premium account,” he said. “We’ve had clients who have literally doubled or even tripled their referrals within a short period of time by being more active on LinkedIn.”
1. Create a comprehensive LinkedIn profile. Basically, you should take your website’s biographical profile and put it on LinkedIn, but you need to “keyword load” your title so that it is optimized for the keywords people would use looking for someone with your expertise and services. For example, Fairley’s official title is “CEO,” but his LinkedIn title is “Law Firm Marketing Expert, Legal Marketing, Business Coach, Best-selling Author, Marketing Expert for Lawyers.” LinkedIn gives you a lot of room for your title and you should exploit it, he said, but he warned against using titles like “shareholder,” “member,” “owner,” or “counselor at law,” which are not good keywords for the people you want to attract.
2. Build up your LinkedIn connections to more than 500. Perception is reality, and if you say you’re a highly regarded expert in elder law but have only 37 LinkedIn connections, that doesn’t look good. LinkedIn stops counting connections after 500 and simply says “500+”. “I would recommend being less selective in who you connect with up until you hit 500,” Fairley said. Once you hit 500, you can become choosier. He has 13,800 connections, but it took him years to get there.
Fairley said that the fastest way to get to 500 connections is to put your contact list in a database (all those business cards gathering dust, for example) and upload this list to your LinkedIn profile using this link -- www.linkedin.com/fetch/importAndInviteEntry -- which he said LinkedIn hides for some unknown reason. LinkedIn will then send each contact a connection request.
3. Fill out your work experience and load it with keywords. Fairley said to describe your practice, but to focus primarily on the kinds of clients you want to work with, the types of professionals you are looking to refer clients to and receive referrals from, and one or two case studies. “Use all the different phrases and words that people looking for somebody like you would use,” he advised.
4. Give recommendations and endorsements and then ask for them. One of the easiest ways to get LinkedIn recommendations is to give them first, Fairley said, and LinkedIn actually does the asking for you. To recommend someone, you go to the LinkedIn profile of someone you are connected to and to whom you feel comfortable giving a recommendation and scroll down to “Recommendations.” LinkedIn will send the person an email saying that you just recommended them. After they add the recommendation to their profile, LinkedIn asks if they would like to return the favor and recommend you back, and most will do this.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn recommendations are different from skills endorsements, which are also helpful, although you have to clean them out every so often because you will occasionally be endorsed for a skill you don’t have.
5. Update your LinkedIn profile weekly. This makes it easier to build connections. Fairley gave some suggestions for updates, including a new case you’re working on, a “win” you just had for a client, a new blog post, a seminar you’re going to or giving, or an interesting article you just read.
6. Monitor who is looking at your profile every week. How many profile views did you get? From what industries and cities are they coming? He doesn’t pay attention to job titles as the source of views because so many attorneys put in the wrong job titles, such as “managing partner," etc. You can also see how a post is doing -- who liked it, who commented on it, and who shared it. “This gives you fantastic insight into who is actually checking you out on LinkedIn,” Fairley said.
7. Join relevant LinkedIn groups. This is a great way to connect with LinkedIn members as potential referral sources. Fairley said there are more than 2 million groups on LinkedIn, with 8,000 more being added every week. For example, there are 54 different groups for financial services professionals in Los Angeles; one of these groups has 2,700 members and another 1,500 members.
“I really recommend that you find and identify half a dozen of them, join them, start looking at what people are posting and then start posting your own content . . . anything you can use to build value to these groups,” Fairley said. “And then you can connect with people who are in those groups as potential referral sources.”
8. Take the relationship offline. “Eventually, you have to recognize that referrals are a contact sport. You’ve got to get out of your office and meet these people face to face,” Fairley said.
Fairley’s webinar is part of an ongoing series of webinars titled “The Elder Law Marketing Funnel.” For more information about the funnel and upcoming webinars, click here.
To view Fairley’s hour-long webinar, click here.