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LinkedIn, the social media networking tool has been around for a few years now and many lawyers are connected to it. But only a few are making optimum use of LinkedIn to develop their businesses. Adam Gordon explains.
Proportionately, more Scottish lawyers are LinkedIn members when compared to their London counterparts and most managing partners and chairmen of law firms in Scotland are LinkedIn members. On the other hand, many Scottish lawyers are LinkedIn members but are not using it proactively because they aren’t really sure about it. Equally, very few are using LinkedIn intelligently for business development but those who are, are gaining real benefits.
Some Scottish firms appear to have taken a high profile approach to using professional social networking compared to others. Certain law firms’ LinkedIn Groups are highly participative and excellent business development tools for their firm, Morton Fraser’s Women in Business Group for example.
One leading lawyer who is a serious advocate of LinkedIn is David Morgan, an employment law partner at Burness LLP, with whom I have worked closely in helping to develop its approach to optimising his firm’s LinkedIn usage.
“For me there are three stages to getting the most out of LinkedIn”, said David Morgan.
First, to re-establish connections with people I haven’t worked with for a while. I’ve found that people are usually more than happy to re-connect.
“Second, I’ve found LinkedIn to be most successful in maintaining ongoing connections with people. Through LinkedIn you have a constant link to them through which you can keep a useful channel of communications going.
“I do this by providing them with status updates, by letting people know about any awards the firm has won and any other validations we get from clients on particular pieces of work and well as instant legal updates even as short as 140 characters through Twitter feeds.
“If 500 people get these in addition to all the other marketing we do, it means that we are constantly in touch under the radar, as it were. If someone moves on in their career there’s a chance you might lose touch but as long as they maintain their LinkedIn profile you don’t.
“One instance of this was a senior HR professional I had worked with who left her employer but was then was back in touch after some months to say her new company was looking to change its current legal supplier. By keeping a constant contact through LinkedIn we had continued to be on her radar and managed to secure the work for her new employer.”
“Third”, said Mr. Morgan, “most lawyers naturally shy away from making cold contact, but LinkedIn can provide comfort to professional service providers, since using it skillfully takes away any awkwardness by raising your profile more subtly. I am a tremendous advocate of this approach and maybe it is the most important aspect of using LinkedIn. In my view, you should not connect with people you don’t know or with whom you have no real connection. Instead, I have started using Groups on LinkedIn for HR people – posting updates on thought leadership and I have built my own network too.
“This in turn has led to making many new contacts and resulted in our last annual employment law seminar being attended by the freshest audience we’ve had in years, nearly half as a result of LinkedIn”, he said.
David Morgan’s experience is not unique. Savvy lawyers are making the most of LinkedIn to win new business across the country and their success is a clear indication that, for now at least, it is one of the biggest games in town.
And just one thing to remember, research carried out by me in 2010 found that of 100 ‘decision-makers’ in industry, one-third of buyers had already used LinkedIn to find an expert supplier. It’s hard to believe that the proportion actively using LinkedIn is going to decline any time soon.
Adam Gordon is director of Gordon BDM Ltd and Social Media Search Ltd
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