How do you talk to your lawyers about LinkedIn?

linkedin for lawyersOriginally posted in The National Law Journal on December 13, 2012

By Adrian Dayton and Burton Taylor

Even firms that have enjoyed measurable success with LinkedIn and blogs retain their share of skeptics. How to win them over?

Show them the numbers. And the numbers strongly suggest that buyers of legal services are joining social networks in droves.

We recently searched LinkedIn for members employed by Fortune 500 companies who have titles that would place them in the legal department. Here’s what we found:

  • 145 general counsel had LinkedIn accounts.
  • 93 percent of the companies had law department leaders with profiles on LinkedIn.
  • 90 percent of the law departments were actively using LinkedIn (measured by 10 or more lawyers having an account).
  • The company lawyers sampled on average had more than 250 connections on LinkedIn.

We took a similar look at Am Law 100 law firms. We found that:

  • At several of the nation’s largest firms, as few as 50 percent of the partners had LinkedIn profiles.
  • Only 26 of the firms used LinkedIn company pages to share updates.
  • Only 32 of the firms used quick links from their website homepages to LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
  • A mere 28 of the Am Law 100 firms featured blogs on their websites.

The bottom line is that buyers of legal services seem more engaged online than do their law firm counterparts. What to do about it? Here are some tips:

  • Encourage your lawyers to maintain robust online profiles (include a photo, descriptive job title, involvement in organizations, experience and skills that would appeal to clients). Social media not only provide opportunities to expand an individual’s brand, they also are an entirely new way to interact with colleagues and clients.
  • Consider creating a team blog, to share the investment in time needed for daily or weekly feeds. Maintaining a blog can be daunting, but they are a trusted source of information for in-house lawyers.
  • Use a company page on LinkedIn and Facebook to share news by posting updates, including news about your firm or articles about attorneys’ expertise.
  • Consider creating a group on LinkedIn to allow colleagues with similar interests to congregate. Select a topic that touches on an area of expertise and encourage attorneys to join other groups to enhance their visibility.
  • Sync LinkedIn accounts with Microsoft Outlook email to streamline the flow of communications with attorneys’ connections.
  • Share information with prospective clients and colleagues (news articles, blog posts, client alerts).
  • As they would with a business card, lawyers need to make a habit of following up with people they meet by connecting with them via their social media platforms.

Keep in mind that using social media for business development is a marathon, not a sprint. Building relationships takes time, and social media tools like LinkedIn are just one way to help grow a book of business.

What do you send clients for Christmas?

I’ve been on both sides of this Christmas gift dilemma, and the bottom line if is very hard to find a meaningful gift for clients, when there are so many different types and personalities to cater to. But in 2011 I got an idea from Barry Moltz, a speaker and small business strategist at http://barrymotlz.com, to take a different approach. I am always pushing myself to find and read new books, so I have started a habit of sharing my annual book list with friends and clients and offering to buy them a book of their choice from my list. It is personalized, because they get what they want, but it also helps to further deepen our relationship because great books have a way of bringing people together.

I didn’t blog about this last year, but I thought it might be of interest to others, so I decided to share the idea and also to share my book lists from the last couple of years. What books should I add to my list in 2013?

2012 List

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Kill Shot by Vince Flynn
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Excuse me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Best Served Cold by Joe Ambercrombie
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
#1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Tears of a Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Running: The Year Round Plan by Jeff Galloway
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi with Dick Patrick
The Passage by Justin Cronin
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Last Man Standing by Vince Flynn
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

2011 List

Endless Referrals by Bob Burg

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival by Laura Hillenbrand

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

A mans search for meaning by Victor Frankl

Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef

True Purpose: 12 strategies for Discovering the Difference You are Meant to Make by Tim Kelly

Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross

Enchanted by Orson Scott Card

Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

A whole new mind by Daniel Pink

Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

5 Secrets you must discover before you die by John Izzo

Bacon Vs. Oatmeal by Justin Foster

Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson