LinkedIn has always been the most important social media network for lawyers whose practices are focused on the business community. LinkedIn’s leadership position has been reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, since it’s one of the few places where people can connect in our socially distanced world.
The opportunities to connect have grown significantly in the past year—LinkedIn’s community now consists of more than 700 million professionals worldwide. Engagement is growing, too. LinkedIn has reported a surge in user engagement since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the opportunities to connect and engage with clients and prospects, many lawyers still aren’t taking full advantage of the platform. They may have a profile, but don’t share content or interact with others. With no end in sight for the socially distanced, work-from-home reality we’re all dealing with, lawyers who overlook the opportunities that LinkedIn affords are missing out. Business development requires connection, and connecting digitally on LinkedIn is one of the only games in town these days.
In an effort to improve user experience, LinkedIn continues to roll out new features that make it easier to engage your audience. Below, I highlight three of the most interesting features that will be released this fall.
Before doing so, here’s a quick primer, for those who need to dust off their LinkedIn skill sets, on some of the basics. If you’re new to LinkedIn, or haven’t logged in for a while, here are a few tips to get up to speed.
Optimize Your Profile. The point of spending time on LinkedIn is to make connections with those in your niche market, create awareness of your personal brand and position yourself as an expert. The connections you make and the content you share should help lead people back to your profile. The problem is that most lawyer’s LinkedIn profiles read like online resumes heavily biased toward education and practice area descriptions — in other words, information that’s largely irrelevant to a prospective client or referral source. Instead, your profile should make it clear what problems you solve and the unique value you provide to members of your specific market niche. Speak the language of your audience, not the language of a lawyer, in your profile.
Build Your Network. Once you’ve optimized your profile, find members of your target audience and invite them to connect. LinkedIn is a big, powerful search engine for finding your ideal audience. You can use LinkedIn’s Search function to search for people and filter results by factors including job title, geographic location, industry type, company name and school, among other things. If you know with great specificity who you serve, then the job of finding people with whom to connect using LinkedIn’s tools becomes much easier and more effective. You want your network to be richly populated with those in the industry you serve, so when you share content it’s relevant to those who see it.
Like, Comment On and Share Other People’s Content. There’s a concept called the “1% Rule of the internet” that suggests that 1 percent of people account for almost all of the content and activity online and the other 99 percent are, more or less, passive bystanders. This seems to hold true on LinkedIn as well. Start to become visible on LinkedIn, and get comfortable engaging on the platform, by liking, commenting on, and sharing the content and updates of those in your network. This will put you on their radar screen and make it more likely that they will reciprocate in a similar manner when you start sharing content of your own.
You want to be top of mind, and perceived as a thought leader, so when someone in your network has a need you can serve, you’re the obvious choice to turn to.
LinkedIn’s New Features for Fall 2020
Like all social media platforms, LinkedIn frequently iterates and introduces new features. Some become hits. Many miss. Here are three interesting new developments within the LinkedIn ecosystem.
LinkedIn Messaging is LinkedIn’s messaging application. It allows you to send direct messages to members of your network. I used to really like LinkedIn Messaging. Given that it is so easy to ignore or overlook email, I found that sending someone a LinkedIn message was much more likely to elicit a reply. Recently, however, my own messaging inbox seems to be filled with spammy messages from people I (regretfully) accepted invitation requests from.
I will be giving LinkedIn Messaging another look this fall as LinkedIn is adding an interesting feature that allows users to transition from a chat conversation to a face-to-face one via Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans by Verizon, or Zoom. According to LinkedIn, this fall all users will have the ability to click on a video icon next to where they would otherwise type a message. From there, users will see a pop-up where you can choose from Teams, Zoom, or BlueJeans and a prompt to sign in. Once signed in to your video conferencing software of choice, you can share a unique link to start an instant meeting or schedule a meeting for later.
LinkedIn is jumping on the SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook bandwagon with the introduction of LinkedIn Stories. According to LinkedIn, Stories, which are shared for 24 hours, are “a great option for you to use to express professional moments with your LinkedIn network without worrying that the content is permanently attached to your profile.”
I’m not sure why anyone would post content on LinkedIn that they are “worried” about being permanently attached to their profile, so it will be interesting to see how users adapt to this tool. Nonetheless, Stories offers a new way to engage with your audience. One obvious benefit to Stories is that it will allow users to share more content to the platform. Unlike with Twitter, which encourages a more-is-better approach, I’ve found that LinkedIn tends to suppress content if you share too many Status Updates. LinkedIn proposes that Stories, which consist of short, 20 second videos, allow you to share “a unique perspective from your work day, ask a question to your network, share insights on timely breaking news, walk through a product demo or teach others a skill.”
LinkedIn Stories is now available to all users in the U.S. Canada, France, Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, and the UAE. You’ll see the Stories feature at the top of your screen on the LinkedIn app—if you don’t see it try updating your app.
LinkedIn is returning to its roots as a job search tool with its new “Open to Work” feature, which is a simple LinkedIn profile photo frame that indicates to other users that you’re in the market for your next job. At a time when so many people are out of work, this seems like a great tool to allow others to help those seeking new opportunities.
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Jay Harrington is president of our agency, a published author, and nationally-recognized expert in thought-leadership marketing.
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