9 Steps to Cultivate Referral Sources on LinkedInWe all know that building long-term, meaningful and influential relationships is foundational to a successful legal practice. People don’t hire law firms; they hire an attorney.

The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you have to build meaningful relationships, and the more potential clients and referral sources you can generate.

Here are the 9 steps you need to take to cultivate referral sources on LinkedIn:

  1. Complete Your Profile. Put in as much information about yourself as you can. Use the same keywords and phrases prospects would use to search for an attorney in your practice area on Google. Sometimes just where you went to college or law school can drive business or referrals to your firm. I know plenty of attorneys who have generated referrals because they went to the same school as someone else on LinkedIn, or grew up in the same hometown. Creating a shared reality with a prospect can be a powerful step toward acquiring their business.
  2. Add Your Photo. Don’t be shy here. Don’t think about whether it’s right or wrong, just do it. A profile with no picture is a bad thing. LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals so your photo should convey that. Stay away from the photo of you on the golf course or holding a glass of wine. If you don’t have a professional headshot, they are available from any photography business for a nominal fee.
  3. Use The Headline Below Your Profile To Make People Want to Know More. When you set up your profile, LinkedIn uses your name, title or position as your headline, but you can edit this to make it more powerful. Try to think of your headline as your professional tagline. You have the opportunity to describe the type of attorney you are and the type of work you are currently doing. Do not make the mistake of listing more than two areas of law here, as you want to appear as a specialist. Specialists generate more referrals than generalists.
  4. Post Often. If you want to see the social power of LinkedIn, this is where you will find it. The Post area of LinkedIn allows you to share articles or other content — like repurposed blog posts — to extend your reach to your LinkedIn network.
  5. Include All Your Web Links. You can add up to three links to your firm’s websites. There are default settings, but these are also customizable. So instead of www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com, I customized it to say “law firm marketing experts”, but it still links to my website. This is another place where you should use your keywords like: “Scottsdale bankruptcy attorney” or “Gilbert divorce lawyer” and link it to your website, blog or even your Facebook fan page.
  6. Make Your Profile Public. Be sure to make your LinkedIn profile “public”, which means all the information you put in it is available to search engines to make it easier for people to find and connect with you.
  7. Don’t Use The Same Copy For Your Summary As Your Bio. The summary is not a place to talk about all the things you have done in your life. This is the place to position yourself as the go-to attorney in your particular practice area and geographical region.
  8. Use LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups can be a very effective way to increase your visibility among niche audiences, like your target market. It takes a little while to get used to how this works. I recommend you start by ‘listening’ before diving in. There are some places you should start with, such as alumni groups and groups in the industry segments you follow. We run several LinkedIn groups you can join for free including: Phoenix Attorneys, Personal Injury Attorney Network and the Rainmaker Law Firm Marketing Group. Simply log into your LinkedIn account and search under groups. Once you understand how groups work, join those focusing on your target market or potential referral sources (like CPAs, financial advisors or business brokers) or even start your own.
  9. Add LinkedIn To Your Email Signature. Most attorneys put their contact information in their email signature; add a link to your LinkedIn account. Here’s mine: http://Rainmaker.MyLinkInvitation.com. I would welcome the opportunity to connect with you on LinkedIn.

As soon as you start networking with LinkedIn, you increase your chances of reaching new clients and referral partners. However, be willing to work at it. This is not something you can “set and forget”.