LinkedIn: get yourself connected
Charlotte Clode discusses how solicitors can leverage LinkedIn to help their firms prosper.
We are living in an increasingly digitalised world. In our personal lives, we do everything from our clothing and grocery shopping to keeping in touch with friends and family online. Music, TV and films are gradually moving over to streaming services. Thus, we can certainly see digital’s influence in the way we work.
For the British legal profession, which is steeped in history and tradition, the two entities shouldn’t be compatible, at least on paper. But they can work together in harmony and things have been changing at an accelerated rate over the last few years, thanks in part to the need to continue with ‘business as usual’ following the covid-19 pandemic. In fact, new technologies and online platforms are ever more commonplace in our day-to-day operations as legal professionals.
At my firm, FBC Manby Bowdler, we have adopted digital systems to do everything from improve our customers’ journeys and monitor our relationships with clients, to cutting down our research time and calculating the return on investment from our events. There will certainly be more digital tools to be implemented in the future as technology evolves, particularly for applications such as document checking where the use of AI could be a game changer.
One of the digital tools I rate most highly for my job is LinkedIn. Again, social media and the legal industry are not obvious bedfellows, but LinkedIn, in my opinion, presents a wealth of opportunities for solicitors to grow their professional network and attract new business.
The power of connection
If you aren’t yet convinced about LinkedIn, let me share some interesting stats with you. LinkedIn has 850 million members in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Of the members using the platform each month, up to 40 per cent check it on a daily basis.
As a B2B platform, it is unmatched in its reach. A massive 92 per cent of businesses say they use LinkedIn as part of their digital marketing strategy. It attracts people operating at a variety of seniority levels, from CEOs at some of the world’s biggest corporations to graduates looking for their first step on the career ladder.
According to LinkedIn, the average number of connections a member has is between 500 and 999. This will often be made up of a mix of present and past colleagues, present and past clients, other people you’ve met in a professional capacity, and usually a small smattering of friends and family. How you grow and engage this network is key to getting the most out of LinkedIn.
At FBC Manby Bowdler, we are very pro-social media. We interact with our clients on LinkedIn and we use it to keep in touch with our contacts. It’s also where we invest time raising our own profiles and sharing firm news to put our practice on the digital map and keep it front of mind. We also use LinkedIn for recruitment, which has saved us thousands in recruitment fees.
While I and my colleagues, are very active on LinkedIn, we find that we are the exception and not the rule in the legal community. I’ve often wondered why that is. I think it’s a bit out of our comfort zone as solicitors. Perhaps, as a profession, we’re averse to putting ourselves into the spotlight, when it’s our clients’ interests we represent? Is it that we don’t like to post about our successes, our opinions or even – yikes – post selfies? It does take a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth the effort and I believe more and more solicitors will warm to social media as it becomes a more proven and worthwhile marketing activity for firms.
And it can be lucrative. Research suggests LinkedIn is responsible for 80 per cent of B2B leads from social media (compared to 13 per cent on Twitter and 7 per cent on Facebook).
To generate my leads and to get the most of the time and efforts I put into LinkedIn, I have a plan – posts which reflect my professional activity and the sector I work in; experiences which evidence the fantastic service we deliver at FBC Manby Bowdler and creating and sharing content which showcases the vibrant, dynamic and (yes beautiful!) communities in which I live and work in Wolverhampton, the Black Country and the wider West Midlands.
I also make the effort to engage and comment on other people’s activity and direct message if I think I’ve something of value to add – as of today, nearly 3,000 follow my feed.
Growing your professional network
As well as being an optimal online platform to win new business, LinkedIn is also a good place to network with other legal professionals. This benefits solicitors in three ways: firstly, you can join LinkedIn groups where you can share best practice with other professionals operating in your field; secondly, you can join groups where your customers will be active; and thirdly it can help you discover opportunities to advance your own professional development.
For example, I am part of the Eurojuris network, which has national chapters around the world. It is very active on LinkedIn, which helps me stay connected with other members – particularly those in other countries who I might only meet face-to-face once or twice a year at events or training days.
At the next Eurojuris event I’m attending this autumn, we’ll have speakers and attendees joining virtually. That’s the power of digital - making on and offline connections more seamless than it’s ever been. If you are limiting yourself to in-person attendance, you will surely miss out on a huge potential audience whether you are trying to engage prospects, clients or peers.
From online hearings and client meetings over video call, to conferences which bring together the physical and virtual legal community, technology is rapidly changing our landscape.
It plays an important part in every solicitor’s job, and this is only set to increase over time as it evolves to make our work more streamlined, more accessible, and also more profitable. As a digital native who is embracing new ways to work and network, I would encourage everyone to give it a go and see for yourself the real power of the connections you make and cultivate online.
Charlotte Clode is a partner at FBC Manby Bowdler and one of the firm's lead advisors in respect of regulatory and business crime fbcmb.co.uk