We welcome a special guest to episode #39 to talk about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for lawyers and law firm growth. Founder of Hess Connect, host of the Social Lawyer Show, and host of the LinkedIn Live, Lawyers Lunch and Launch, Viveca Hess joins us for this episode to highlight what you need to do to leverage the LinkedIn profile you likely already have but probably haven’t spent the time to update recently.
What we cover in this episode:
- 01:51 – Introduction to Viveca Hess
- 07:25 – Why is LinkedIn important for law firm owners?
- 14:19 – Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Visuals
- 19:58 – Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Tips for crafting an effective headline
- 22:17 – Avoid the fear of niching down
- 25:05 – Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – About section
- 34:18 – Personality AND professionalism
- 38:07 – Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Rich media
- 46:26 – Once your profile is optimized, what’s next?
- 52:07 – Interested in More – Contacting Viveca
Introduction to Viveca Hess
As the founder of Hess Connect, host of the Social Lawyer Show and host of the LinkedIn Live, Lawyers That Lunch and Launch, Viveca Hess helps lawyers stand out online to generate quality clients and referrals. She is passionate about discovering, crafting, and sharing true stories for meaningful results.
She jokingly refers to herself as a recovering lawyer as she went to law school and practiced law with an estate planning transactional law firm. In 2008 during the economic dip, she suggested that the firm could use some marketing materials and started taking on the marketing aspects of the firm. At that point, she found her passion for the psychology of how you speak to, resonate with and engage with someone online before meeting them in person during the marketing process. After the founding partner at that firm retired, Viveca decided to start her own marketing agency. That’s when Hess Connect was born.
With her background as a lawyer, she decided to niche into the legal industry since she was already familiar with specific challenges, advertising rules, and what attorneys are able to say and do online. Her focus is on establishing relationships with her clients so that she may listen to their individual personalities, stories, and how that sets them apart from competitors.
Why is LinkedIn important for law firm owners?
Out of all social media platforms, LinkedIn is known for being a professional channel, but is LinkedIn for lawyers? They have also made it a focus to highlight quality content and engagement, so the effort to take your time and create quality over quantity is crucial. One huge takeaway from our discussion with Viveca is that some law firms rely exclusively on LinkedIn for lead generation, meaning they don’t have a website or don’t bother updating it because their company LinkedIn page works so well. That blew my mind as a marketer, so there is where we started. Regardless of your feelings toward social networking, it has grown to be an integral part of an effective marketing strategy. LinkedIn actually has a search bar that can be used for internal searches on the site, so if you utilize the proper keywords on your personal profile and company page, you can rank higher in results. Google will also bring up your LinkedIn pages in searches, so SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another great reason to leverage LinkedIn to the fullest!
Viveca notes that while advertising on LinkedIn can be very effective, but they are also very costly. If you have the budget to be spending $5,000 to $10,000 per month on ads, you can get some great traction, but since most law firm owners who listen to our podcast do not have this type of marketing budget, we don’t dive into ads during this episode.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Headline & visuals
The first place to start with your LinkedIn profile is your headline and visuals. These are the first items that visitors will see and it’s crucial to get these right. The banner is the large image at the top of your profile page. The headline is the text that falls just below your name. We are also going to discuss your thumbnail image (or headshot).
Avoid default options
If you do not update your banner and headline, you will end up with the default options that LinkedIn provides. For the banner, it is a blue background, as pictured in the “BEFORE” image below on the left. The header is what appears directly underneath your name in your profile. If you do not edit your header, the default is your most recent position under your experience. Think of your profile like your virtual office. You wouldn’t welcome someone to your office without spending some time to update and personalize it, right? So why do the same with your online presence? Leaving default options can give the impression that you don’t care or don’t spend time on details, which is not what you want to communicate to potential clients.
The impact of making updates
As you can see below, the default banner on the left is a blue very plain image and many profiles have this, so it is a well-known default option. To the right, the banner has been updated to include her name and very clearly outlining her services beneath that. You can also see the background image is international, since her focus is on multinational corporations. Viveca notes to take geography into account when you are selecting your background image. If you can work with anyone in the US, but choose to feature a skyline of your city, you may be limiting yourself if someone believes you only perform work in that city.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Tips for crafting an effective headline
There is a magic formula for crafting an effective headline. There are three components you must incorporate into the space of 120 characters.
- What you do
- Who you work with
- The benefits of working with you, specifically
Sometimes you may need to reflect a bit on this to consider what your passion is, why you began studying law, and what hurdles you have overcome. Taking time to reflect on this and write some notes can help you tell your story better and can reveal some unique aspects of your personality. You may be able to use certain words to describe your services because it matches your personality and journey.
Avoid the fear of niching down
In considering the “Who do you serve” component of your headline, you may start to fear niching down. This is completely natural as we do not want to limit our potential income, but Viveca notes that she has actually witnessed the opposite. When you become very clear about your audience, you can speak to them much more clearly and specifically.
Niching down allows you to step into their mind and focus on their specific pain points, goals, desires, and aspirations. Your target audience will feel like you’re speaking to them directly. The more you can do that, the easier it’s going to be to connect with people as soon as they see a little bit more about you in your about section or in your title. It’s one of those things where we have to get through the fear factor of losing out on prospective clients, which has never been the case. She even admits that she was afraid of niching down as well, noting “When I niched down to attorneys and law firms, I thought I’m missing out on all these other professionals and other consultants that I could work with and exactly the opposite happened because I became so clear on who I was speaking to and I knew their issues and problems so well.”
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – About section
There are a few lines that appear in the “About” section, but in order for a viewer to see the entire thing, they must click “See more.” The goal of your first few lines is to get that viewer to click on the “See more” button. You want to grab their attention in an authentic way, but very quickly address their pain point or their goals.
Once you’ve crafted the first few lines, it’s time to work on the about section as a whole. Formatting can do wonders for those reading through this section. If you have one large paragraph, it can be tedious for your reader and they will likely not get past the first few sentences. Do your best to format this in a way that is easy to scan.
There are other formatting tools you can use to help separate your sections or improve the readability. One way of setting yourself apart is by using fonts or emojis (when appropriate). You don’t want to overdo this one but adding some emojis can be effective and incorporate more style into your profile. If you Google “Fancy Fonts”, there are multiple options available that will allow you to copy and paste new fonts into your profile. Another tool we like is Get Emoji. You can copy and paste from these tools over to your LinkedIn profile.
It’s not about you
This section is about your clients. Many times, attorneys want to put their accolades, awards and all of the multimillion-dollar pre-court settlements in this section. You can do that, but you’re now putting the spotlight on yourself. There is a way to use all of that but flip it so that the spotlight is on your prospective clients. This goes back to knowing very specifically who your clients are and that in turn is based on having niched down. Do you have one or two audiences you can speak to in a meaningful way? If you would like to see more clients or grow your client book, then you need to speak to them in their language to their specific pain points. Show them how those accolades and awards will benefit your potential client rather than just talking about yourself.
Call to Action (CTA)
This is a component of the profile that is often missing. You literally have to tell the reader what you want them to do next. Lead them to the next steps in a very straightforward way, again make life as easy as possible. Give them one to two ways for them to reach you. Phone, email, or via LinkedIn directly.
Personality AND professionalism
“Being professional and personal are not mutually exclusive” says Viveca. It’s funny because it’s a very common block for attorneys to suspect that personality or humanity is somehow going to detract from their professional appearance. But everyone has a different personality and a different story, so it’s really the only thing you’re ever going to be able to out-compete everybody on. Nobody else has your story.
Oftentimes it’s the “why” that really highlights what is important to you and can help you express your personality. Yes, you want to save money or yes you want to grow your client book. Yes, these are things that most attorneys will say yes to, but why? What is it you could do if you didn’t have to spend that extra time or money or effort creating the visibility or the marketing efforts, etc? Let’s assume that’s going to change, what are you going to do? You can have your weekend back. You can attend the soccer games. You’re going to be able to get that new car or travel, whatever it is. That’s the real why. It’s not the numbers, it’s not really the business growth. Those are the superficial things that are absolutely essential, but it’s really the why behind that, that we need to find out.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth – Rich media
This section is now called the “Featured” section and can be found directly under your “About” section. This is where you have an opportunity to feature a publication, white paper, presentation, slide deck, etc. This is another visual opportunity for you to present a fuller picture of who you are, what you do, and your expertise, essentially building more authority. If you have a podcast, for example, you might want to put the thumbnail for that podcast here. Viveca points out, “I have a blog/podcast on LinkedIn Live, so I try to draw from that.”
Video has had the spotlight over the past few years in the digital marketing world and really ramps up engagement. Most social media platforms really encourage videos, more specifically short videos. You may be wondering why. Viveca speculates “I think the why behind that is you’re giving a three-dimensional touchpoint to who you are. People can read your publication, but then when you give a video, they see you moving, speaking in your language and how you express yourself. I think at that point, you start building what we refer to as a know, like, and trust. That third dimension I think really builds and resonates more closely and there are many attorneys that are not doing that.” Law firm marketing is no different.
Once your profile is optimized, what next?
Once you’ve spent some time revising your profile, adding photos, videos and more, this does not mean that business will magically flock to you. Engaging is the next step once your profile is ready to be seen!
When it’s time to connect with other professionals, you are not connecting with the default invite. Like we said above, you do not want to be seen as the default attorney. Take some time to review the person’s profile and say something meaningful to focus on building relationships. Be sure that you’re connecting with professionals that make sense as well. You don’t want to be connecting with everyone that you see. Do your best to really be intentional about who you add and the messages you send. Again, focus on quality over quantity.
Viveca suggests groups as one of the most effective ways to engage. If you are really constrained time wise, groups can be a great way to manage relevant engagement if you have half an hour to an hour a week. You really can get it down to that if you know what you’re doing and you have certain structures in place. One of the easiest things to do right off the bat is to go into the groups in LinkedIn once you have your profile set up. But Viveca warns – Don’t go crazy on this. Sometimes attorneys are excited and they go and they join 20 groups right away. I ask them, “Okay, so now you joined 20 groups, how relevant is that? Are you going to be able to go into each group and contribute to the threads that are in there?” Of course not, of course not. You have to keep lawyering.
Viveca recommends joining 2-3 groups. Search for groups that have relevant topics and good engagement. Are you able to position yourself in the group to a prospective client audience or referral network? By actively participating in a few groups, you are positioning yourself there as an expert, contributing to the existing conversation, adding value, and that speaks for itself. That is your “marketing.” That is your business development.
Interested in more?
Viveca works with lawyers to help them revise their profile, develop strategies for lead generation, and offers a lawyer client acquisition program. You may find her on LinkedIn, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We have put together a Legal Series, which covers topics like partner compensation for firm growth, staff productivity and KPIs and industry-specific software. Check out all episodes in our Legal Series for more.
Today’s episode focuses on optimizing your LinkedIn profile for firm growth. We feature Viveca Hess, founder of Hess Connect, host of the Social Lawyer Show and host of the LinkedIn Live, Lawyers That Lunch and Launch. Viveca helps lawyers stand out online to generate quality clients and referrals. She is passionate about discovering, crafting and sharing true stories for meaningful results. We learn about her background as she started off as a practicing lawyer and found her passion for marketing before launching her own marketing agency.
Viveca then walks through her own profile for us and breaks down the sections and importance of each one. We discuss the visuals and headline and how to craft an effective headline. Next, we tackle the fear of niching down and how that may be holding you back if you haven’t found a niche.
We then discuss your about section and the importance of formatting, keeping the focus on your clients and including a call to action. By incorporating your personality into your profile, you will be able to communicate your unique qualities. There are ways to do this without losing professionalism, so don’t be afraid to get personal. The rich media section allows you to highlight your content, including video. We talk about the trend in video and how that can help you gain more trust on your profile.
Once your profile is updated, your work is not done. Now it’s time to engage. That means connecting with the right people in an effective way and potentially joining groups to add value when possible. Reach out to Viveca Hess for more information and to see how she may be able to work with you to gain more qualified leads!