By Ian M. Bardorf
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) was launched in 2003 and is now the leading professional network on the Internet. LinkedIn is reportedly growing by roughly one million new members every week — more than one member each second.
Unlike other social networks like Facebook or MySpace, LinkedIn members are professionals, primarily in the service, finance, and high tech sectors. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are members and one million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages. There were nearly two billion people searches on LinkedIn in 2010.
Most importantly for attorneys, LinkedIn represents a valuable opportunity to market your firm to an affluent and influential membership. Here are ten things that you can do today to start taking advantage of LinkedIn.
1. Create a profile.
Like a resume, a LinkedIn profile allows you to share your professional expertise, your work history, accomplishments, skills and strengths. Even better, your profile can also include your photo, firm logo, links to your website, blog, Twitter feed, video, and more. Profiles also get good rankings on the search engine results pages and make it easier for people to find you online.
2. Update your profile.
If you’re a LinkedIn member and have allowed your profile to languish, spend some time keeping it up-to-date and bringing it to life. Make sure you are connected to all the attorneys at your firm and that recent professional highlights, awards or activities are included. You can also list specific practice areas and skills that will demonstrate your expertise and bring your profile up when someone searches on those terms.
3. Customize your URL.
Click on the Profile tab, and then scroll down to the “Public Profile” section. If the link ends in numbers and letter and slashes, click on the edit link and choose your name (or firm name), to give your public profile a more polished appearance.
4. Put links to other websites on your profile.
Right above the public profile link is a section where you can put three Web site addresses. If you have a blog, website, Facebook profile, or Twitter account, put those links there. Choose “other” in the drop down so that you can rename what the link shows the reader.
5. Build your network.
Email people in your address book and ask them if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. Either invite them to invite you, or ask for permission to get a number of good connections quickly. Include your LinkedIn address in all firm marketing materials, newsletters, and your email signature with an invitation to connect.
6. Get recommendations.
A recommendation is a brief endorsement of your work that will help you get business. Ask previous and current clients or people you know for recommendations, and return the favor. This will show on your profile, which adds to your credibility.
7. Create a company page.
A company page is a profile of your firm, listing everyone who works there and information about its specialties. A customized page with your logo makes your firm look more established and increases your visibility on the search engine results pages.
8. Update your status
You can send status updates on LinkedIn the same way you send status updates on Facebook and Twitter. You can announce events, speaking engagements, new clients when appropriate, attorneys who have joined the firm, relevant changes in the law, the latest in estate planning, or include links to interesting articles you have read.
9. Make announcements to your network.
LinkedIn email, called “InMail,” allows you to easily contact everyone in your network for important announcements or event invitations. Think about inviting your connections to your next Chamber of Commerce speaking engagement and you could double the number of attendees.
10. Get involved.
When you create a LinkedIn profile, your activities can be included in update emails other people in your network get. The more you participate the more you’ll be included. Every time someone sees your name on the network it reminds him or her about your firm, and the more likely they are to refer business to you when someone asks them a question about something they’ve seen you participate in.
LinkedIn offers a valuable opportunity for attorneys and small law firms to get referrals, connect with prospects, and stay in touch with clients. LinkedIn profiles also commonly show up near the top of search engine results. But it can be a challenge to make the most of it. To find out more about building your business on LinkedIn, contact Ian Bardorf at www.BardorfMarketing.com.
Ian M. Bardorf is an Internet marketing and social media advisor to attorneys and law firms seeking to grow and advance their business via the web. This article is copyrighted as original content by Ian M. Bardorf and Bardorf Legal Marketing. This article may be reproduced or republished with appropriate attribution and credit.