LinkedIn Desktop Redesign coming soon to a computer near you!

linkedin redesign pageA new year, a new look LinkedIn…that’s what we should expect for 2017…or so LinkedIn keeps telling us…

We’ve been hearing about the LinkedIn desktop redesign for quite a while now, and although rollout dates have been pushed back more than once, our research indicates LinkedIn members in the UK will likely receive the new look user interface (UI) by the early Summer, if not before. So why the change and how will it alter the way members use this platform?

LinkedIn have been working for a while to create a more consistent user experience across desktop and mobile and this latest update is a significant move towards providing this. So, you can expect that with the redesign of the desktop version your LinkedIn profile will look and feel much like what you see on your phone. Of course, as you’d expect with any new update to their platform, LinkedIn also claims that the new user interface is “more intuitive, faster and creates more value for you . . . helping to more easily surface ideas, drive conversation and discover news and topics you care about.”

So what’s the verdict?

Well, although I, like the majority of LinkedIn members, do not have the newly redesigned desktop version yet, from analysing the profiles of clients who have received the new rollout and the information coming directly from LinkedIn, here’s my view on some of the good and not so good changes that LinkedIn’s desktop redesign will offer:

The Pros

1.   More streamlined and easy to navigate

On the pro side – it’s true to say that LinkedIn has created a more streamlined and simplified look that supports easier navigation. Instead of the mixed menu of drop downs across the top left-side and icons on top right – the new user interface mirrors the mobile version with just six icons and a ‘More’ section, where you can find, among other things, Profinder (a feature that helps companies tendering projects connect with freelancers/consultants – soon to be rolled out across the UK), Slideshare and the Post a Job feature, without having to search around for them.

Fig 1

Further, drilling down into the My Network, Notification and Me icons the more streamlined and intuitive theme continues.

The new ‘Me’ tab brings together functionality from across the old site to help members not only view and edit their profiles but also offering access to Privacy & Settings, Help Centre and Language features as well as Sign Out, all of which are helpful for managing and using the platform more effectively.

The new ‘My Network’ tab now allows you to see and manage all your connection invitations, as well as professionals you may want to build relationships with and your full 1st degree connection list, in one clean and easily navigable place.

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Further, the redesign of the ‘Notification’ tab now brings together into one place notifications that were previously scattered across the old desktop version (including the homepage ‘Keep in Touch’ box and the flag icon on the top right menu). Using this new icon, members will be able to see when connections move jobs, have work anniversaries and endorse them or when members in their networks publish an article, are mentioned in the news, or engage with their articles or shared content.

2.   Increasing Engagement

Summary section

Though the full version of the Summary section is no longer visible, I would argue that the placement of the first two lines of the Summary in the top section of the new UI (see yellow highlighted section in Fig 3 below) is actually a pro rather than a con.

Fig 3

Not only will the new positioning encourage members to view each-others’ summaries, but because only the first two lines will be visible from the profile page, it should get members thinking about how to create an impactful two line statement or question that will really draw visitors into their Summary sections (a definite pro in my view).

Highlighted Activities

The new look profiles will, as with the mobile version, have a ‘Highlights’ section directly below the top (introduction) section – see Fig 3 above – where LinkedIn will suggest what members have in common. So, when viewing someone’s profile via the new UI, the ‘Highlights’ section will show any mutual connections, companies where both members have worked, groups their both in or companies where they can help with an introduction. Definitely useful for helping members identify ways to engage and connect with each-other.

3.   Building your network

Last, but by no means least, invitations just got easier. Following the mobile version, with the desktop redesign members no longer need to give a reason or have an email address to invite another member to connect. And in addition, the feature allowing you to personalise your invitation is now more visible and easier to use.

Note: For a brief overview of the new LinkedIn desktop interface see here.

The Cons

On the downside, LinkedIn appears to have removed some functionality that many members will not welcome.

1. Say goodbye to Advanced Search

Perhaps the most important function lost as a result of this current redesign is the removal of the Advanced Search feature for free and Business Plus account holders. The search function offered with the new UI offers one search box where members can search for people, jobs, companies, groups and schools – see Fig 4 below.

However, the more refined search filters previously offered by the Advanced Search tool have not been retained. Consequently, free and Business Plus members will have a more limited ability to search for prospective clients, influencers, partners and employers.

Members can still filter by level of connections (first, second, or third), general locations (but not post codes), companies, industries, profile language, non-profit, language, and schools and Boolean searches are still available, albeit in a more limited capacity.

Fig 4

2. Saved Searches have gone

In addition, it appears that, at least for now, saved searches have also been removed. Consequently, members will no longer be able to save a search result, which carried the added benefit of alerts from LinkedIn as new members who met the search criteria were added to it. And it would seem that previously saved searches will also disappear. So, for those free and Business Plus members who use LinkedIn to prospect, this is certainly a loss.

Note: For a short video on what the new search feature looks like and how to use it see here.

3. Reduced ability to use LinkedIn as a mini CRM

Other functions that have been removed from the new UI include the ability to tag and thereby filter 1st degree connections using keywords and the ‘Relationship’ section (currently located immediately under the photo/intro section of 1st degree connections), which offered another place to record information, communications etc to help members manage their connections more effectively. Free and Business Plus members who have hither to used these features as a mini CRM, are therefore likely to be disappointed.

So, that’s the latest on some of the more important changes that will reveal themselves when we finally get the new LinkedIn desktop redesign here in the UK. But as has happened with previous platform updates, it is true to say that some of these changes, especially where functionality has been removed, may be somewhat of a moving target as the rollout continues and LinkedIn gauges members’ reactions to it. Needless to say, here at Marshall Walker we will keep you posted as and when redesign features are changed, and we’ll be hosting a webinar to run through the whole redesign as soon as the rollout hits the UK. So watch this space!

In the meantime, what do you think of the new LinkedIn desktop redesign? We’d be very interested to read your comments below and please do get in touch if you need any help getting to grips with how to use LinkedIn more effectively – that’s the old or the new version!

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LinkedIn Company Pages – revamp coming soon

 

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I was pleasantly surprised the other week, when I went to my LinkedIn company page to find that I was given an option to access the new admin experience and view the new company page layout.

We know that LinkedIn is in the process of rolling out some major changes to the look & feel of LinkedIn on the desktop and it seems that company pages are also getting a re-vamp. At this moment, we just don’t know when.

But why have a company page?

At Marshall Walker – The LinkedIn Tutors, we are often asked about the value of having a company page. Often your focus is more on your personal LinkedIn profile but there are some key benefits to having a company page, plus they are not too difficult to create.

  1. Forge relationships: Having a company page allows you to attract followers, and build a community to help drive engagement. According to LinkedIn, 80% of LinkedIn users want to connect with companies; at the same time, almost 50% are more likely to buy from a company they engage with on LinkedIn.
  1. Branding: LinkedIn company pages are great for branding. You can add your logo and banner image. The banner image that appears on your company page can include your company’s website URL, a call to action or tag line to make it easy for people to find you outside of LinkedIn and encourage engagement. You could also rotate your banner images especially if you are running a campaign or have an upcoming event. Company page status updates are great for important announcements and of course for gaining valuable insights on how your content is performing. Plus, you can connect your personal LinkedIn profile to the company page, which adds the company logo to your LinkedIn profile.
  1. It gets you found on Google! treat your LinkedIn company page as another website for you and your business. And we know that Google loves LinkedIn so using keywords on your company page improves search visibility on Google, making you even easier to find.

Let’s take a look at the changes . . .

When you next go to your company page you may find a message that says the following:

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Click on “access the new admin experience” and it takes you to an early preview of the new company page admin experience. I have to admit I like the new layout – it looks much cleaner compared to the current version.

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The tabs along the top include:

Updates: when you go to Admin section of your company page, the first page is the Updates section where you can post new updates, target followers, pin updates to the top and get an overview of how well your updates have been doing in terms of engagement.  However, what’s new and a huge improvement is that that you can now upload images which you can’t do on the current company page status update.

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At the same time if you preview the company page layout you will see that the company page updates are shorter – in the same way as home page status updates – so instead of seeing the whole update as you do currently, you will see the update is truncated and you must click on “. . . see more” to see more!

Overview: aka ‘edit mode’ is where you can edit the content on your company page such as the About us section, and upload a new banner image. The header /banner image has changed in size and is now 1536 x 768 pixels compared to 646 x 220 pixels in the current version. However, my old header banner seems to have worked well and you can drag the image to position it. In fact, I think it looks a lot better as the image goes across the top of the screen – very much in the same way as the background image on your LinkedIn profile.

Analytics: as before you get some good insights into how well your company page updates are performing, including the number of impressions, clicks and interactions.

Notifications: again you can see the interaction with your content – the likes, shares and comments, etc.

Currently ‘Analytics’ and ‘Notifications’ take you the current admin view of your company page, but what I like is the fact is that these menu options are now listed across the top of the page.  Currently if you want to update your company page you have to click on “Edit” and the select “Edit page” from the drop down, so the new layout just makes the whole process cleaner and easier.

The new company page layout from a user perspective:

As well as the back-end admin section, the member or user view has also been updated. Again, a nice clean layout.  What you notice is that the “how you’re connected” section has moved from the side bar in to the top header section. Here you can still see how many connections you have as well as seeing all employees who have their profiles linked to the company page.

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I am sure there will be more changes to come but so far I think the company page updates are looking good so I await the new company page updates with anticipation!

By: Judy Parsons, LinkedIn Trainer at Marshall Walker – The LinkedIn Tutors.

 

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Private Client Solicitors: Why you should use LinkedIn?

This content was first published in May 2016, as a featured article in PS – The Law Society’s Private Client Section magazine. For more information see here

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Image by Renjith Krishnan used courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

How do you, as a private client solicitor, get business?

The solicitors we work with tell us time and again that the majority of their clients come from personal recommendation or referral, and that building and deepening relationships with both clients and referrers is essential for preventing the pipeline from drying up.

If this rings true for you, then LinkedIn could be a powerful, online tool for supporting what you have always done to get business – networking – but in a more time-efficient manner.

What is LinkedIn?                                            

LinkedIn is the world’s largest, online, professional, business-to-business networking platform, dedicated to helping professionals build productive relationships with one another. LinkedIn currently has more than 400 million members worldwide, with UK membership tipping 20 million.

LinkedIn is not an online recruitment site. Nor is it a way to sell things. However, you may find a job through LinkedIn, and, by developing key businesses relationships with the support of LinkedIn, you may well gain more clients.

Why use LinkedIn?

Consumers increasingly search for legal services online and are bombarded with choice, not just from private practice but now, increasingly, from unregulated providers and large retail chains. As the Law Society commented in its January 2016 report, The Future of Legal Services:

There remains a great deal of uncertainty amongst consumers about different types of lawyer and legal businesses. It is currently very difficult, even for knowledgeable consumers, to work out which provider is the most appropriate for their particular issue. On the internet, most firms look the same.”

A polished, well-written and comprehensive LinkedIn profile (with a professional headshot) can help private client practitioners stand out from the crowd online.

Further, because LinkedIn is all about connecting with other professionals and building relationships, not only can it help you attract more of your ideal clients and referrers, but it can also help you keep them.

Is LinkedIn really worth your time?

To answer this, we suggest you ask yourself the following two questions.

1. Where are my prospective clients and/or strategic referrers likely to be?

As LinkedIn is designed to connect you with business professionals rather than directly with consumers, it will definitely help you build relationships with IFAs, accountants, wealth managers, estate agents and other solicitors who don’t offer private client services – all of whom are most certainly using LinkedIn to grow their business networks. And of course, as lives progress, all your business professional connections will also become potential clients at some point or other.

2. Is a LinkedIn profile going to help attract new clients?

According to research in the US by BTI consulting, the first way clients search for a lawyer is, unsurprisingly, via peer-to-peer referral. However, a close second is finding a service provider via an online search and, most importantly, researchers found these two methods are now interdependent.

So, when your prospect receives recommendations for the best solicitor to handle their mother’s probate, they will invariably look up the referrals online before deciding who to approach. If your prospect Googles your name, not only will your website come up on page one of the search results, but so will your LinkedIn profile. As you cannot control where your prospect will click, they may well visit your profile in addition to or instead of your website. What will they find?

If you aren’t on LinkedIn at all, then you’re losing out on being able to fully demonstrate all your hard-won expertise and training, as well as possibly some influential, personal recommendations that might otherwise seal the deal. If you have a LinkedIn profile and it lets you down because it’s either partially filled out, out of date or badly written, your prospects may bounce off your profile and on to your competitor’s without a second thought.

If you have no interest in developing your LinkedIn profile so that it positions you well, then we would recommend closing your account. Not having a LinkedIn profile is better than having one that makes you look unprofessional, unconnected and uninterested.

Your LinkedIn network

Fundamental to appreciating the real power of LinkedIn is to understand the concept of your LinkedIn network. On LinkedIn, people in your network are called ‘connections’. Your network is made up of your first-degree, second-degree, third-degree connections and fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.

Your first-degree connections are people you’re directly connected to because you’ve accepted their invitation to connect, or they’ve accepted yours. Your second-degree connections are people who are connected to your first-degree connections (but not to you). Your third degree connections are people who are connected to your second-degree connections (but again, not to you). Since you could ask for an introduction via your first-degree connections, second-degree connections offer the most potential for new business. The diagram below illustrates how it works.

 

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So your LinkedIn network can bring your potential client or referrer to your door. Your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to then make a case for them choosing you over your competitors.

Setting up your LinkedIn account

Having a polished LinkedIn profile will increase your visibility and raise your credibility to prospects searching for you on Google or LinkedIn. If you’re new to LinkedIn, follow the simple steps below, to set up your LinkedIn account.

1. Creating your login

Go to the LinkedIn website (www.linkedin.com) and click on ‘Join today’ at the top of the page. To create your Login details, you’ll need an email address and a password that’s not too simple for hackers to guess. Make sure to record or remember these login details – especially the email address you used. While you can opt to set up a new password if you can’t remember the original one, a forgotten email address is much more complicated to sort out.

2. Country and postcode

Once you’ve clicked on ‘Join Now’ the next screen will ask for your country and post code. Use your office rather than home post code (unless you have a home office). When prospects search for a lawyer based on their location, your name will appear within relevant search results.

3. Job title and firm

In the next screen, add your job title and firm’s name. If your firm already has a LinkedIn company page, it will appear in the drop down menu as you type. Click on your firm’s name, so that the logo will also appear on your profile. If your firm does not have a company page or logo, just type in the firm’s name. You will also need to select the industry – either Law Firm or Legal Services (choose the most appropriate) and then click ‘Create your profile’.

4. Interests

LinkedIn will now prompt you to select from a list of reasons for using LinkedIn. We generally advise clients to select ‘building your network.

5. Importing contacts

LinkedIn will now prompt you to import all your email contacts, but we recommend waiting until your profile is complete and business contacts will see a LinkedIn profile that really does you justice. It’s also all too easy at this stage to accidentally invite all your email contacts – including grandmothers and ex-spouses – and once this process has started, you cannot stop it! To avoid this, click onSkip (on the right-hand side). LinkedIn will now offer you another chance to import your email contacts, but resist the urge again and click ‘Skip.

6. Verifying your email address

LinkedIn will now ask you to verify the email address that you used to set up your account by clicking a verification link that should by now have arrived in your email inbox. If you don’t do this, you’ll find yourself struggling to connect, accept invitations and more. So check your inbox (or spam / junk mail) for an email from LinkedIn and ‘verify your email address’ now.

7. Skip, skip and skip again

Once you’ve verified your email address, LinkedIn will give you three more opportunities to either import your email contacts or connect with people you may know. Again, we strongly suggest that you move swiftly to ‘Skip’ every time. LinkedIn is very good at suggesting people for you to connect with, so you’ll have ample opportunity to do so once your profile is ready to unveil to the world.

8. Pulse

Next LinkedIn will suggest various topics for you to follow via its huge news platform, ‘Pulse. Select by clicking on the ‘+’ symbol. Articles from selected topics will appear on your LinkedIn homepage for you to read. You can also ‘Skip’ this step.

9. LinkedIn App

Next, you’ll be encouraged to download the LinkedIn app onto your phone. We suggest you ‘Skip’ this process for now and finish setting up your new account. We would recommend downloading the app at some point though, so that you can connect with new business contacts, accept invitations, check your LinkedIn emails and so on whilst on the go.

10. Skip once more

LinkedIn will try again to get you to connect with people you may know. Stay strong – remember you can do this when your profile is complete – and hit ‘Skip’.

If you’ve followed the steps above, you are now the proud owner of a LinkedIn account!  Hover your cursor over ‘Profile’ (top left-hand side of the menu bar) and then click on ‘Edit Profile’ and you’re ready to start developing your LinkedIn profile. Good Luck!

If you would like help in developing a LinkedIn profile that really represents you well or you want to use LinkedIn to support your business development initiatives please get in touch. 

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Getting value from LinkedIn’s long-form posts

This article was originally published in the June 2016 edition of PSMG Magazine.

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Image by Stuart Miles and provided courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Using the format of a longer blog post on LinkedIn has now become a great way to raise your profile both within your network on LinkedIn, and beyond. That’s because these posts appear as part of your LinkedIn profile, and are visible to your connections and followers there, but can also be found more widely by people on LinkedIn you are not connected to, and by anyone else using the internet, via Google searches.

If you work in professional services, it means you can demonstrate thought leadership in your area of professional expertise to the lead generators and prospects already in your LinkedIn network, and to potential clients outside this network. Used well, over time the posts will help people looking for your professional service to find you.

How do you post an article?

The practicalities of posting a long blog article on LinkedIn are simple: when you log in to LinkedIn, on the Home page you’ll see a row of three colored icons just under your own photo and connection statistics. The one to the far right is a pencil icon with the words ‘Publish a post’. Clicking on that takes you to a page that provides a simple template for creating your LinkedIn blog posting.

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Using the template, you can write a headline, write or paste in your blog article below, add any basic typographic formatting, links and photos or other media. You can save the article to come back to it later, or publish it right away.

Also notice right at the bottom of the blog post template, you can add ‘tags’ – these are a set list of topic words chosen by LinkedIn that will help people to find your post. You can start typing in a word and the template will show you which related words are available to use as tags. You can use up to three, if your post covers a number of topics or categories that you want it to be found under.

Once you’ve written some posts using this LinkedIn blogging tool, you will see saved and published posts listed down the left hand side of this same page, for easy reference. So you can return here any time to complete any articles that you saved earlier but were not yet published. You can also delete any old posts that you no longer want to be available.

How to get the best out of your posts

The key, as with any kind of blogging, is the quality of the content. It’s important to write something that interests and adds value for the kind of people you want to make connections with, influence or sell your services to.

This means finding topics that genuinely interest your clients or colleagues, creating a compelling or intriguing headline, using photos and other media if possible, and writing just enough to give someone helpful ideas or information, without writing so much that you give your expertise away or lose readers’ interest.

And, if you are interested in attracting potential clients, it’s critical to make sure you sprinkle in some of the key words your clients would use to find your service. The more you can use a key word or phrase in your article – without making it ridiculous – the more likely your blog post will be found in searches for that key word or phrase.

One suggestion – if you have a friend or family member outside of your profession but who might fit into your intended audience, ask them to read it and give you feedback. A second pair of eyes, especially if they are not in your professional service area, can help you craft the article in a way that your prospects will find engaging.

Putting it all together

Ideally, your LinkedIn blog posts should fit within your wider use of the web and social media. If you are sharing helpful and interesting thoughts in an effort to attract clients to your professional service, you want to make sure they are seen and read by as many relevant people as possible.

So make use of your other marketing to provide links to the post on LinkedIn – in slide presentations, in your email newsletter, on your web site, in your tweets etc. And don’t forget your firm’s LinkedIn company page if they have one; if it’s appropriate, your firm could add an update there to alert their followers to your blog post.

Blogging has been around a long time, measured in internet years, and LinkedIn’s long form posts aren’t a new format. But for experts in professional services, their value lies in integrating your blog articles easily into your existing LinkedIn social networking, while allowing access to them by the wider world. As such, it’s a very important means for spreading your ideas and enhancing your professional reputation online.

If you would like to know more about how to raise your professional profile on LinkedIn, please get in touch for an initial discussion. 

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Every LinkedIn profile tells a story

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This content was co-authored by Emily Miller and Kirsten Hodgson (founder of Kaleidoscope Marketing) and first published in March 2016, as a featured article in the Solicitors Journal. 

Image by Stuart Miles and provided courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

Whether you like it or not, your clients, prospects, and intermediaries will look at your team members’ profiles on LinkedIn and make judgments based on this. Having substandard profiles could even cost you work.

Don’t believe it? Here’s a case in point: an international professional services firm was asked to re-tender for an existing client’s work. The client was worth approximately £2.5m per annum and the firm had a six-year relationship with them. The partners were shocked when the firm lost the tender, and even more so when they talked to the client about why.

The client said they had looked at the team’s LinkedIn profiles as part of their evaluation process because they were more reflective of a person’s skills and expertise than bios put together by firms. They had found that the individual profiles didn’t reflect the bios submitted as part of the tender.

This loss could have so easily been prevented had the firm ensured that all its professionals on LinkedIn had completed their profiles to a required standard.

Minimum requirements

  • A background image (or text) that conveys a lawyer’s expertise;
  • A professional headshot that fills the photo box (we’ve recently seen a firm whose photos appear tiny and it makes them look like a firm of technophobes);
  • A headline that clearly conveys the lawyer’s specialist skills – ideally incorporating one or two keywords to help to find them in skills-related searches on LinkedIn;
  • Location and industry sector filled in (this will ensure your lawyers feature in any location or sector-based searches);
  • Contact information and advice, particularly a phone number, address, and a link through to the most appropriate page on your firm’s website;
  • A compelling summary section that explains who you help and what you help them with, your approach to working with clients, the results you have achieved, and a call to action;
  • Relevant sections to evidence skills and expertise;
  • Key skills (including keywords);
  • Current role at your firm – make sure your solicitors select the firm name from the list that appears when they start typing it in, to ensure their profiles are linked to your LinkedIn company page;
  • Education details that will help team members to connect with, and be found by, fellow alumni; and
  • Additional info – list interests outside of work because people do get in touch with those who share their interests.

Brand consistency

While there are a few sections where brand consistency is key, it’s important to let your solicitors’ personalities shine through. LinkedIn profiles need to be more than replicas of a website profile – people want to connect with other people, not robots.

Having said that, you may wish to set up a template covering the following to ensure an appropriate level of brand consistency:

  • Create attractive background banners for your solicitors to use;
  • Ensure your team members use their firm headshot as their LinkedIn profile – this looks professional and provides a consistent visual brand;
  • Let people know whether they should select ‘law firm’ or ‘legal services’ as their industry – keep this consistent;
  • Provide your solicitors with a link to the web page and any content you wish them to upload or link to;
  • Create text about the firm, a particular practice area, or an industry sector for them to include in the description of their current role;
  • Let them know the correct name of the firm to use (you’d be surprised by how many variations people use);
  • List any professional organisations to which your firm belongs that you want displayed on people’s profiles; and
  • List common skills you want lawyers to include in their profiles – it means they benefit from your keyword research and don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Poor LinkedIn profiles will tell the wrong story about your firm and your legal professionals, and can hurt your prospects for future business. Minimum standards – and an agreed template – for profiles will help ensure your solicitors’ profiles are professional, easily found in searches by clients, and convey some consistent branding and information about your firm, while also allowing them to convey their individual personalities and interests in an engaging way.

If you would like to find out how to create a LinkedIn profile that sets you apart from your competitors, or if you want to develop the LinkedIn profiles of your team so that they are consistent with your brand, please do get in touch for an initial discussion. 

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How can LinkedIn help family law solicitors attract new clients?

This content was first published in February 2016, as a featured article in the The Law Society’s online Communities – Family Section. For more information see here.

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In a previous article  for the Law Management Section of The Law Society we discussed how LinkedIn is an effective ally for solicitors – working within smaller law firms or as sole practitioners – looking for time and money-saving methods to help grow their practices.

But what in particular can LinkedIn offer family law practitioners?

LinkedIn is a highly effective networking tool for building productive business to business relationships with key influencers, which for family law solicitors would include: other solicitors; IFAs; wealth mangers and even counsellors. However, in this article we will focus on how to use LinkedIn to attract potential clients, who may not be LinkedIn members, directly.

1. Boost your visibility and credibility

Valuable content

Before a potential client picks up the phone or clicks on the send button, they may have already spent some time on Goggle looking for information and advice. Meeting this demand for knowledge with clear, concise and relevant content, written in layman’s terms, will go a long way to positioning yourself as the legal adviser of choice when that potential client decides to contact a solicitor.

LinkedIn Pulse – LinkedIn’s self-publishing feature for long-form posts offers an easy and free way to increase your visibility – both on LinkedIn and Google – and establishes your credibility as the go-to family law specialist. The ‘Publish a post’ feature can be accessed from your Homepage – highlighted in yellow in the screenshot below).

 

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Posting informative and relevant content is as easy as using Word. Just copy and paste from a Word doc or write the content straight in. Make sure to add a title containing key words that describe the article AND are the most likely Google search terms used by potential clients to find the information you are supplying. Adding an image will help professionalise your article. You can find free images on http://www.freedigitalphotos.net. At the bottom of your post you will be invited to: ‘Add tags so it is easier for people to find your post’. Add three key words or phrases here that describe your post.  Although LinkedIn offers a prescribed list, this is still a good way to gain more visibility on Google searches.

Once published, your first-degree connections and followers will receive a notification that you’ve added a post. It will also appear on their homepages and on your profile (just below your photo), and be accessible via Pulse, to all LinkedIn members. Most importantly, long-form posts on LinkedIn are public and can be seen by anyone, whether or not they have a LinkedIn account. So if relevant keywords are included, your post could potentially appear on page 1 for a Google search on that topic.

Customised URL

Google loves LinkedIn. Google searches on your name not only bring up your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) but also any of your LinkedIn posts. So the more relevant content you can produce, the more visible and therefore credible you become to people seeking you out online.

TIP: To increase the likelihood of coming up nearer the top of page 1 for a Google search on your name (especially if you have a common name) customise your LinkedIn profile’s Public URL.

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To customise your URL, hover your cursor over the link below your photograph (see the URL highlighted in yellow in the example above). A wheel/cog will appear on the right-hand side. Click on this to land on your public profile where you can change your URL (top right-hand side of the page) by clicking on the cross. If your name hasn’t already been taken, you can select your name as your URL (no spaces, dots or hyphens). If your name is not available, use your name plus a keyword/phrase (up to a maximum of 29 characters) i.e. the service you want to be found for. You can change your URL up to three times.

 

2. Cultivate YOUR professional brand

For family law practitioners your individual professional brand is paramount and your reputation as the ‘trusted adviser’ needs to be consistently reinforced.

A well-written, information-rich LinkedIn profile offers a much deeper insight into your professional personality – your ‘brand’ – than a CV or staff profile on your firm’s website can ever provide. And, if your profile is not up to scratch, not only are you missing out on using LinkedIn to raise your credibility online, but it could also count against you: an incomplete LinkedIn profile appearing on page 1 of Google on a search for your name is far from impressive.

With that in mind, here are three ways to use LinkedIn to support your professional brand online:

a) Photograph

Generally speaking, people buy people and online engagement rates are always higher if images and/or photos are included. More specifically, profiles with photographs are 11 times more likely to be viewed in a LinkedIn search. So when your prospective client finds your profile on Google, make sure they see a photograph that conveys a professional and approachable individual.

b) Summary

Your Summary is a key section of your profile and appearing just below your photo section, may be the only thing your prospect spends anytime reading. So here’s where you pitch yourself as ‘trusted adviser’. Think about what your client wants to know, rather than what you want to tell them; maybe explain what motivates you to do this kind of work and, if you’re looking for new clients, include an invitation to get in touch with contact details. To add a Summary, click on ‘View More’ in Add a section to your profile’ – both highlighted in the screenshot below)

 

Family lawyer article - image 3

c) Content and media

As explained in the ‘Valuable content’ section of ‘Boost your visibility and credibility’ above, using LinkedIn’s self-publishing feature is a highly effective way to pitch yourself as an expert in your field. Short, professionally produced videos – easily added to your Summary or Experience sections – that convey your ‘trusted adviser’ qualities offer another opportunity for your profile to stand out.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for demonstrating knowledge and reinforcing professional brands. Developing a stand-out profile and creating some informative content will build your online presence and, ultimately, attract more of your ideal clients.

 

If you would like to find out how to create a killer LinkedIn profile that sets you apart from your competitors, or if you want to learn how to use LinkedIn to grow your practice in 2016, please do get in touch for an initial discussion. 

 

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Lawyers’ Ethics & Social Media – Like oil and water?

Guest Blog by Mena Ruparel

Got ethics? Are you ethical question handwritten with white chalk on blackboard with eraser smudges

You might be puzzled by this blog, what do social media and lawyers’ ethics have in common? For solicitors who use social media (almost everyone) ethics should be in the back of every lawyer’s mind every time they tweet, post, like, comment or share something.

Social media portals are generally thought of as being relaxed environments, social and (quite) friendly. Even when solicitors use social media for business purposes, regulations and controls are not rigid.

Solicitors should bear in mind that the Law Society has issued a practice note on how solicitors should use social media.

The long and the short of it is that solicitors have an overwhelming obligation to the public, both on the job and when they are “off the clock”. Solicitors sending tweets on Friday night after a glass (or two) of wine probably haven’t got the SRA code of conduct 2011 very clearly in mind. Principle 2 requires solicitors to act with integrity, at all times. Principle 6 requires a solicitor to behave in a way that maintains the trust that the public places in them and in the provision of legal services, at all times.

These are very widely drawn obligations and there are times when solicitors get caught out in ways that seriously impact on their careers. Thinking ethically involves asking yourself the following question – what is the right thing to do in this situation. Taking it one step further, ask yourself what you would do if your mother, partner or child heard what you said, tweeted, posted or commented – would you still do it? The internal voice that tells you in a moment of reflection to “STOP”, is often silenced when you’re online.

Let us take for example the solicitor who upon exiting a football match had a few choice words about Liverpool fans. Whilst it would be inappropriate to repeat his words here, he was clearly “off duty”. He was approached in a social situation by someone who wanted to know his views for a YouTube interview, not an interview for the national press! He said (after the event) that he was being hot-headed and that he let his emotions get the better of him. He lost his job as a result of his public comments and the fact that he was identified as a solicitor by a third party.

As far as we are aware, there has been no regulatory action against this solicitor, (nor do we suggest that there should be). Many commentators have noted that this seemed a harsh reaction from his firm; from a compliance standpoint the firm may have suffered reputational damage and were preventing further damage. His views certainly don’t cover the profession in glory and could be seen to be a breach of principle 6.

Solicitors commenting on articles in the Law Society Gazette and on LinkedIn groups should beware the same fate if they write inappropriate comments or posts or share inappropriate images. I have seen lawyers posting photos on LinkedIn with the files in their rooms clearly visible (with a good zoom you can see client names), and even one who named his very famous client on twitter.

So with all that said – be aware of the negative implications of forgetting that lawyers should maintain professional ethics when using social media channels – you could lose your job or be sanctioned.

 

Mena Ruparel, www.menaruparel.com, is a Family Law solicitor, an arbitrator, an associate lecturer and an experienced trainer. She is also Managing Director of Law CPD Solutions Ltd http://www.lawcpdsolutions.co.uk/ – which is helping law firms and individuals adapt to the new CPD scheme. Mena is an avid and skilled user of all social media, especially LinkedIn and is currently co-authoring a book on Ethics for Solicitors – scheduled for publication in May 2016 by Bath Publishing. See this link for details: http://www.bathpublishing.com/ethics-for-solicitors-a-practical-guide.html

 

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Growing your law practice in 2016: is LinkedIn worth YOUR time? (Part 1)

 

ID-100351013This content was first published in December 2015, as a featured article in the online Law Management Section of The Law Society. For more information see here.

 

For many small and medium-sized law firms, employing a dedicated professional to plan, implement and evaluate a business development or marketing strategy is not a realistic option. Yet, today’s legal marketplace is cluttered with competitors, increasingly informed consumers, new configurations of legal service providers, and marketing messages coming from every device with a screen.

So, what can smaller law firms do – without the large budgets available to the big city players – to help grow their bottom line in 2016?

Is LinkedIn the answer for small law firms?

LinkedIn, the preeminent professional online networking platform has been used since 2003 by millions of professionals – current global membership is recorded at 400 million – to successfully build business-to-business relationships that generate both repeat and new business.

Lawyers have always relied on networking and personal relationships to grow and reinforce their client base – and for smaller practices, this is still their most effective business development strategy. However, the potential compatibility of LinkedIn with your current methods for attracting and keeping clients is clear; While LinkedIn can never be a substitute for the face-to-face relationship building that transforms a faceless service provider into a trusted adviser, it can, if used effectively, be an invaluable tool to generate and then support those relationships in a way that’s unparalleled in terms of time and cost.

Some statistics

LinkedIn is a vast reservoir of potential professional relationships just waiting to be developed.

  • Every second, LinkedIn acquires two new members – current membership in the UK is now 20 million and still rising.
  • 80% of LinkedIn members influence the business decisions within their organisations,
  • Over 50% of members are employed by a SME.
  • In the UK, more than 350,000 LinkedIn members are managing directors or CEOs,
  • 45,000 LinkedIn members are recorded as either company directors or board members.
  • Members are nearly 50% more likely to purchase from a company they engage with on LinkedIn according to research carried out by marketing consultancy Hubspot .

The stats certainly make a good business case for throwing your hat into the LinkedIn ring. But how exactly does all this data translate into bringing you more clients or keeping the ones you have?

Is LinkedIn really worth YOUR time?

Reviewing how legal services are sourced today offers an answer. Peer-to-peer referrals are still, undoubtedly, the most popular method for finding legal services. However, according to research carried out by BTI, current buyers of legal services have added another step before getting in touch with a legal professional they have been referred to – buyers now conduct an online search for that person. This means that today personal recommendation and online search are inextricably linked. Who amongst us has been referred to a service provider by a friend or colleague and then gone straight to our computer or phone to Google that name to find out more? I would guess the answer is most of us.

So if a potential client will more than likely Google you before they pick up the phone, the question then becomes: what will they find?.

Google ranks social networks highly, which means that if you have a LinkedIn profile, it will almost always appear on the first page of a search on your name, and sometimes even above your website. You cannot control where your prospect will click, so if your LinkedIn profile is sparsely filled out or if you are not on LinkedIn at all, chances are your prospect will move swiftly to the next recommendation on the list who may have a much better profile to offer.

Be an “All-Star” on LinkedIn

Whether you like it or not, your online presence is now a fundamental piece of your professional brand. But what exactly should a “good” LinkedIn profile include? LinkedIn has a set of prescribed formulas that determine how much weight to give your profile in LinkedIn searches for your name and/or profession. In order to appear higher up searches, your profile should rank as an “All Star”. Effectively this means ensuring that your profile, at a minimum, includes the following:

  • your industry/sector and your business postal code;
  • a current position with a description;
  • two more positions (either current or previous);
  • your education;
  • at least 5 skills;
  • a profile photo (a professional one, please!); and
  • at least 50 connections.

TIP: To find out if your profile ranks as an “All-Star”, click on “Profile” on the top menu on the left-hand side. Your profile ranking is shown as a partially/almost filled circle on the top right of your profile page.

Additional ways to ensure your “All-Star” status, include:

1. Keyword Optimisation

To further boost your ranking in LinkedIn searches, it’s essential to add in keywords to your headliner, (underneath your name at the top of your profile – see Fig 1 below), your current position title, previous job titles (if relevant), as well as peppered throughout your position descriptions and summary.

In the same way that you would look for a product or service on Google, think about what search terms your prospective client or referrer/strategic partner would key in to find someone with your expertise.

 

for newsletter articleFig 1

 

2. Summary

Your summary is the synopsis of your professional experience and the most appropriate spot for weaving in your personality as a way to create a really standout profile. This is where you should highlight your expertise and identify the benefits you bring to your clients. A well drafted, informative and engaging summary can determine whether a visitor decides to keep reading or click on to the next person – a potential competitor – on the search list.

3. Recommendations & Endorsements

In an age where peer-generated product/service reviews are regularly included in a consumer’s purchasing process, having a number of well written recommendations and numerous endorsements for relevant expertise will add substantial weight to your profile’s visibility and credibility.

If you would like to find out how to create a killer LinkedIn profile that sets you apart from your competitors, or if you want to learn how to use LinkedIn to grow your practice in 2016, please do get in touch for an initial discussion. 

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LinkedIn Groups: new changes will improve engagement

LinkedIn has announced some changes to the way LinkedIn Groups work, which I think will make Groups more useful. If the changes work as expected, it should help to reduce the levels of spam in groups, and encourage more real discussion and engagement.

Image courtesy of digitalart_FreeDigitalPhotos.netAmong the features changing – due to be rolled out in the next couple of weeks – are:

  • Making all Groups either Standard (showing up in search results, and any member can invite one of their 1st degree connections to join) or Unlisted (invisible to search, and only the Group owner and managers can invite members).
  • All Group discussions will now be private, so conversations won’t be visible to non-members. Groups will now require that you be a member to contribute to conversations. Both changes should help encourage participation and reduce spam discussions.
  • No contributions will require manager approval now – you will be able to post instantly in a Group you belong to. This should help people feel their content is seen by other members quickly. However, owners and managers will still be able to remove content or place individual members into moderation if needed, and any Group member will still be able to flag inappropriate content.  LinkedIn’s filters will also put any ‘spammy’ promotional content into moderation queue automatically.
  • You will be able to add images and ‘tag’ fellow members to your LinkedIn discussions.
  • And probably the most important improvement for most LinkedIn Group members is that LinkedIn will only send you one email with a digest of all of your group discussions (will highlight only the most popular and recent discussions) instead of an email from each Group!

There are some other changes too — For more details, see here.

Do you think these changes will encourage you to get more involved in LinkedIn Groups? I’d love to hear your views.

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3 golden rules for making the most of LinkedIn

Is networking important to the success of your business?

If it is, then LinkedIn is a key business tool for you. However, don’t think that a sparsely completed LinkedIn profile will somehow bring you lots of business – it won’t!

To get the most benefit out of LinkedIn as a business networking tool, it requires some thought and a little effort. If you are willing to do that, it becomes much more than an electronic version of a business card folder or Rolodex. It can effectively become a key channel for your marketing and business development activities.

Whether you are new to LinkedIn or have been using it comfortably for some time, it’s worth just taking a step back occasionally to think about how to get the most out of it. To that end, I’ve come up with three basic golden rules for getting the best from LinkedIn. They should come as no surprise to anyone who takes networking seriously.

Golden Rule #1 – Put your best foot forward

LinkedIn is really about people. The starting point for any significant presence on LinkedIn is your own personal profile. As such, it’s essential that you put yourself in the best light possible, are clear about what you do, what you offer and what you want, and come across as you would wish colleagues and customers to see you. Without a solid, professional and engaging profile, everything else you do within LinkedIn will suffer.

Golden Rule #2 – Treat others as you wish to be treated

Surprisingly enough, as I said above, LinkedIn really is about people. So if you want to get the most out of LinkedIn, you are really going to be trying to get the most out of other people. Your reputation and behaviour are just as important in the virtual world as they are face to face. That means not only being polite and not pushy, but offering help to others. Information and referrals are the currency of networking – give, and you shall receive.

Golden Rule #3 – Get involved

Last but not least, because LinkedIn is indeed all about people, you will get the most out LinkedIn by building relationships over time. To do this, you have to engage with others and then do it again, and then do it again. A single email or content posting won’t have much impact on those who can influence and help your business goals. For example, this means taking part in groups, commenting on and responding to others’ requests or ideas, and regularly providing ideas or resources that are genuinely useful and not disingenuous advertising.

So that’s it: three simple rules to guide you as you navigate some of the details of using LinkedIn’s many powerful features. If you take these to heart, you will find that LinkedIn becomes an invaluable part of your overall networking, job-seeking or marketing and business development activities. And you will find that LinkedIn’s value for you keeps growing over time, as others learn, and are constantly reminded, that you are a helpful and engaged professional.

Are there more golden rules you’d like to add? I’d love to hear from you!

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