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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

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Law Firm Marketing - Seven Steps for Using LinkedIn.com as a Business Development Magnet

Originally published in the inaugural Edition of The Rainmaker Advisor - for attorneys

The Rainmaker AdvisorLet’s face it – you’re busy. You may even fall under the classification of “very busy”. When it comes to developing business, you are faced with all kinds of options: a website, blogging, networking, referrals from current clients. The question is often where do I start? And how do I manage the ethical considerations? Especially because I’m so busy.

My advice – start with what you’ve already got. Then leverage it.

Enter LinkedIn.com, a free online social networking site for professionals.

Unlike Facebook.com or Myspace.com, LinkedIn® focuses on a business demographic1:

  • Average Age – 41; 
  • Average Years of Experience – 15;
  • Average Household Income – $109,000;
  • 46% of it’s users are Decision Makers;
  • Executive from All Fortune 500 companies are represented inside LinkedIn®.

These are folks who use legal services.

I train my clients to view LinkedIn® as a technological backbone to place underneath their already existing network of relationships. With 21 million people using the service, you may be surprised to find that many of the people that you know professionally are already users.

Add three levels of depth (seeing who your contacts know, and who their contacts know) and a search engine to explore those resources, and you have an extremely valuable resource to leverage.

By having a systematic approach, you can use this free service to become a magnet for referrals, business opportunities, and profitable alliances.

Here are the Seven Steps for Using LinkedIn® as a Business Development Magnet:

1. Perfect your Profile

Your LinkedIn® Profile is an online hub for Business Development Objectives. A well designed profile lets your contacts, prospective clients, and prospective referral sources know who you are, what you do, and what you are looking to accomplish. Make sure that you spend plenty of time perfecting it. Fill out all of your education. Fill out your past employment and experience. People feel like they know you when you disclose those things. Because LinkedIn is a Social Media, you want to bring down the barriers that people experience to getting to know you and your firm. This step is critical.

2. Learn the system

The power of LinkedIn® is the platform. The social software allows you to do advanced searches, connect to your current websites and blogs, promote your profile to current connections and people who could be connections, answer questions of users who are looking for someone like you and your firm, etc. Understanding the capabilities of LinkedIn® will allow you to leverage them once you’ve built out your network in their system.

3. Reach out to people you already know and build your network

You’ve spent a lifetime making connections. You already belong to multiple networks: your firm, your law school, your alma mater, your professional organizations, your place of worship, the PTA. All of these people know people. They all have connections that have potential value to you. And you have connections that have potential value to them. By reaching out to your already existing contacts, you will quickly reproduce your existing networks and be ready to use the technology to explore the opportunities that already exist in your first level connections, as well as your second and third level connections. You will never know if you don’t build it.

4. Get strategic

Know exactly what you want to accomplish. Write out your Business Development Objectives clearly and concisely such that anyone who read them could tell if you reached them or not. Are they specific? Are they measurable? Once you are clear, consider that you have an enormous network of resources available to you via your LinkedIn® network. Now answer the following questions:

  • · How are you positioned with the people in your network?
  • · Do they really know what you and your firm offer? If not, why not?
  • · How could you communicate that to them?
  • · Does your firm have a newsletter? Put a link in your profile so people can subscribe.
  • · Do you blog? Via your profile you can direct people to your blog so they can read more about you.
  • · Who refers you on a regular basis and why?
  • · Do you have enough of these people in your network?
  • · Do the people you know have contacts that could be referring you?
  • · Do you know the characteristics of the people who refer you?

Once you have the answers, look newly at the network you’ve built. You will see opportunities that you didn’t see before. They were always there. Now leverage them.

5. Use the system to manage relationships

The advanced features contained in the toolbars that LinkedIn® offers give you powerful tools to manage your interactions with the people in your network. Download them and learn to use them. You can keep track of birthdays and overlooked emails. You can get updates from the people in your network as their profile information changes. You can keep track of your searches. Via a scan of your regular emails, you can find new people to connect with and continue to build and cultivate your network.

6. Reach out to meet new people through your contacts

Once you’ve built out your network and cultivated deeper relationships with the people you already know, begin to browse their networks. Look to see if they know people that will help you achieve your Business Development Objectives. You can even do deep, specific searches to find experts, vendors, specific people, and specific companies. Using the built in features of LinkedIn®, reach out to those people through the people that you already know. Use some of that Social Capital that you’ve built up with people. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you achieve your goals.

7. Be Consistent

The key to any Business Development strategy is consistency. Schedule 10 minutes a day for the next 90 days to work inside the LinkedIn® system. Not only will you find it enjoyable discovering new sources of business, but you will also build a habit that will transfer into your day-to-day habits and translate into a profitable world of new opportunities.

Social Networking is not a new thing. Professionals have been doing it from the dawn of commerce. Social Networking Software like LinkedIn, however, provides an opportunity to take those networks you’ve built over a lifetime and put them to use.

By developing a systematic approach to developing your network, and a technological backbone to uncover the hidden connections contained in that network, you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from other firms, and produce the kinds of result that Senior Partners in the big firms produce on a regular basis.

In our next article, we’ll address privacy concerns, ethical concerns, and demonstrate how LinkedIn®’s system is built to handle this.

Meanwhile, enjoy building what will likely be one of the best Business Development tools you will ever encounter.

Raymond Chip Lambert, of Network2Networth, is a Business Development expert who works exclusively with seasoned professionals to leverage their existing relationships through time tested Business Development strategies and online Social Media strategy thereby unlocking the value of their existing network connections. He can be reached at 602-635-4541 or www.network2networth.com.

1Linkedin.com-http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=advertising_info&trk=hb_ft_ads

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