It has been said that in the current era of business purchasing, 60% of the decision-making process is completed by the client before contacting any vendors. I can tell you from experience, that’s definitely the case for me. The last time I was searching for a lawyer, the first step I took was asking my friends and colleagues for referrals. What was the second step? I looked them up on LinkedIn. Any referrals that did not have a LinkedIn profile were discarded. I chose to call only two of the referrals, although in all honesty I was 90% sure which of the two I was going to select by the time I picked up the phone (and I would happily refer any of my connections to the lawyer I chose in the future).
That is the principal on which social media networks and, more specifically, LinkedIn are founded. People have the ability to connect with contacts who are connected to other contacts who are connected to other contacts with the click of a button, creating this technological web of referrals. I understand that social media can seem daunting at first glance, just like the very first time you opened an unformatted Excel spreadsheet full of data or when you had to figure out how to [use the Bluebook to] properly footnote your first legal paper. However, I promise that it will actually make your job much easier.
From the perspective of a lawyer, there are two main benefits that you can reap from using LinkedIn strategically. The first is information acquisition (i.e. crowd sourcing) and the second is clientele building. Michael Downey, a legal ethics lawyer and founder of Downey Law Group LLC, does a good job of chronicling his successful entry into social media in his article “Social Media Safety Net: Build It and They Will Come.” As a lawyer starting his own firm, Downey was concerned (and rightly so) about how he would attract clients to his new business. After Downey spent 30 minutes updating his LinkedIn profile one night, his average profile views skyrocketed to an average of 60 views per day in the 5 days following his 30 minute investment.
Downey is just one example of the many lawyers using LinkedIn to increase their client base and referral sources. Both in-house attorneys and law firm lawyers not using LinkedIn could be at a competitive disadvantage. LinkedIn provides quick and easy access to articles and knowledge shared and discussed by peers and business partners. With the ever-changing legal landscape, access to up-to-date thought leadership and trend analysis increases your ability to proactively address these trends and position yourself as a knowledge resource, either within your company or to potential clients.
If you are considering enhancing your social media presence, at least professionally, the American Bar Association offers a wealth of content specifically for legal professionals in the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. Additionally, you can check out my next blog, which will take us further into how lawyers of all kinds can utilize LinkedIn.