Last week, I discussed the oft-forgotten tips, as well as good etiquette in using the platform. This week, we’re going to dive into more networking and marketing strategies for attorneys, and more etiquette lessons to help you avoid sticky situations online.
A Word of Caution about Law Firm Marketing
As mentioned in Part 1, some state and bar associations have strict rules regarding legal marketing on social media, including platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
For some states, use of the phrases like “specializing in” or “expert in” or “specialty” is considered advertising and is prohibited in their attorney code of ethics. If that’s the case for your state, avoid using such words in your LinkedIn summary or anywhere in your profile for that matter.
Of course, you can still describe the focus of your legal practice, as long as you avoid those phrases and its synonyms.
What can be considered as “Advertising”?
It depends on the state you’re practicing in. For example, in New York, endorsements and testimonials from both colleagues and clients are considered a form of advertising. The same applies to subjective statements regarding your skills and areas of expertise as an attorney.
In addition, some states require their lawyers to add a disclaimer to their websites, LinkedIn profiles and other communications materials. A common disclaimer statement is, “Prior results don’t guarantee a similar outcome.”
LinkedIn marketing is important for attorneys, but it’s not worth it if you get disbarred or fined in the process. Be extra vigilant and always specify which states you are licensed to practice.
The Foundation of the Best Social Media Campaigns in LinkedIn
Now that I’ve cautioned you about checking the advertising guidelines in your state, we can proceed to the focus of this article, networking tips and LinkedIn marketing strategies.
Personalize Your Invites
LinkedIn allows users to personalize their invite with a message and different options to describe how they’re acquainted.
Unfortunately, since this is optional, most people don’t bother customizing their invites. It’s rare, even for the most active users, to get a personal invitation. That’s why using this strategy helps you stand out from the crowd.
If you’re not sure what to write, just include a short introduction explaining where you met or how you’re connected and then finish it off with an invitation to connect.
Here are 3 templates for customizing your LinkedIn invites:
- The blogging lawyer
“I’m writing a blog on (law subject) and I think some of the articles there might be helpful or at least interesting for you. You’re also welcome to share ideas on this subject or contribute an article of your own.
Please accept my invite so we can keep in touch.”
- The “I-met-you” somewhere invite
“It was great meeting you at (conference, workshop, or event name). I enjoyed discussing (what you talked about) with you. Let’s stay in touch.”
- The group-mate invite
I’m a member of (your mutual group on LinkedIn). I saw your post there last (week, day, month) about the (what was the post or article about?) and I thought it was really (intriguing, enjoyable, or whatever your opinion is on the subject). I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
Don’t Use InMail for Cold-Email Prospecting
Some states are more lenient when it comes to law firm marketing and LinkedIn marketing. Hence, some attorneys get away with blasting spammy marketing messages to unsuspecting members of their network.
Even if you’re not restricted in any way, doing so gives your fellow lawyers a bad name. So just don’t.
Imagine getting the message above from someone you don’t know?
The best social media campaigns don’t start off asking for a sale right away.
Because it doesn’t work that way! You can’t sell to people until you’ve cultivated a relationship with them. This applies regardless of the medium of communication used. You have to build your authority first, so people can trust you.
Instead, use the messaging feature to contact influencers in your legal practice and share news about issues and trends that may affect your work. For example, an employment and labor lawyer can send messages about a new ruling on child labor. A lawyer specializing in taxation can send a message to lawyers in his network about update in tax regulations.
Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups
When I say ‘relevant,’ I mean relevant to your work and target clients. While there are strict rules about advertising, there’s nothing wrong with joining active discussions — as long as you don’t give legal advice, of course.
Joining LinkedIn groups is important for three reasons:
- It gives you a chance to connect with more people, and increase your invite’s acceptance rate (see group-mate invite above)
- Groups allow you to join relevant discussions, so you can establish authority in your practice and at the same time learn about new trends
- Some of the group members can refer a potential client to you
Here are some examples of LinkedIn groups to join:
- State bar associations and local lawyer groups, such as Florida Lawyers Network and National Bar Association Network
- Industry-specific groups such as Corporate Lawyer Network and Trial Lawyer Network for Lawyers and Attorneys
- Groups related to your target clients such as Tax Professionals group for taxation lawyers and Real Estate Professionals and Vendor Network for real estate lawyers
Beware Who You View
The American Bar Association allows lawyers to research jurors on social media platforms, as long as their information is displayed publicly and readily available. Note, however, that researching is allowed but contacting said juror is not.
Seems simple enough, right?
Well, what happens when you view a juror’s LinkedIn profile and then LinkedIn sends him a message that you viewed his profile? Does that constitute as ‘making contact’?
Again, it depends on the interpretation of your local bar association. If the NYC state bar is concerned, even automatic communications can work against you.
Get Press Attention
Journalists often go to LinkedIn to seek out experts for their articles. If you’re active in groups, more journalists will see your posts. Some may even use it as a quote in their story.
When you engage in discussions, just be careful not to give legal advice. You can share your view or insights on problems, legal or otherwise, but it has to be phrased in a way that won’t be mistaken as legal counsel.
Got More LinkedIn Marketing Strategies?
Do you know of other law firm marketing strategies on LinkedIn that’s not listed here? Let us know in the comments or at @mcdougalljohnd