OK I get it – you can do lots of stuff, and you have more than one area of legal expertise.
But as a lawyer, if you're going to use LinkedIn in any serious way, then you're going to have to move past the pathological need to give people a laundry list of everything you might possibly be able to do. Instead, zoom in as far as you can comfortably go on a particular area, a particular industry, or a particular type of client.
Let's find out why.
And along the way, let's think about how to pronounce the word “niche” (is it nitch or neesh?).
…in trying to make yourself and your LinkedIn use appealing to absolutely everybody, you're ensuring that it's not appealing enough to anybody.
The Worst LinkedIn Profiles in the World
If you're lucky enough to get someone that actually clicks on your profile and reads what you have to say about yourself, then here is the worst thing they can read:
John is an experienced lawyer in business, intellectual property, litigation, leasing, insurance and construction. He is passionate about providing practical, commercial outcomes. He acts for individuals, small to medium business, large corporations and government.Most Lawyer's Profiles
But what's wrong with it? Surely it's OK to be a bit of a generalist isn't it? Yes it is, but when it comes to your digital marketing strategy, going general is a big problem. Because most clients aren't looking for general – they're looking for the precise person to help them with their precise problem. And John isn't that person.
Here's what's wrong with that kind of summary, at least in terms of breadth:
- There's no apparent expertise – all things being equal, I'm going to the person who most closely demonstrates expertise in the area I need them to deliver – not someone whose expertise is spread out all over the shop;
- Every lawyer says they look for practical, commercial outcomes. Maybe 20 years ago that might have sounded different, these days it sounds like everyone;
- John's clients include everyone in the entire world. Again, if I'm a small business owner looking for a lawyer, do I want the person who acts for everyone or the person who spends their entire life dealing with ONLY small businesses (or at least, seems to based on their LinkedIn profile);
- The word passionate.
The gist of it is this: in trying to make yourself and your LinkedIn use appealing to absolutely everybody, you're ensuring that it's not appealing enough to anybody.
Hang On – This Advice Means We'll Risk Alienating Potential Clients…
At this point you're concerned that removing your recently acquired expertise in farm-debt mediation from your LinkedIn profile might lose you some work.
And that's correct – it might.
This process is going to involve making the decision that you'd prefer not to make – which clients do you act for, or want to act for, where:
- you enjoy the work;
- you have the expertise, or can get it;
- there is a realistic market for it, now or in the foreseeable future; and
- you make the most money.
And while most of us would prefer to tell the world we can help them no matter what their issue is, which might even be true, it's just not a good marketing strategy.
But here's the interesting thing – for most lawyers I speak with (not all, admittedly), after examining the situation with open eyes, there is almost always a clear winner to focus on in terms of the personal and financial benefits.
The clear winner doesn't always mean “I do commercial litigation for businesses with 2.4 employees and an EBITDA of $1,792,486 per annum”. In fact, there are a few different ways we can niche down your LinkedIn profile.
3 Ways to Niche Down your LinkedIn Profile… Other than your Area of Expertise
Here's where it gets interesting! There are many different ways to niche down beyond your area of legal expertise. We're going to touch on three just to get your juices flowing.
The basic principle is the same as always though: marketing is about connecting with people.
So, in truth, narrowing your focus based on your practice area isn't that smart, because half the world doesn't know what kind of lawyer they need anyway. Instead, let's look at some client-facing ways to narrow down our LinkedIn focus.
Narrow by Industry
This one's pretty easy because we have a lot of examples already. Construction lawyers, sports lawyers, hospitality lawyers… you get the idea.
Basically, this method involves you having a collection of legal expertise designed to serve a particular industry with identifiable needs.
Don't be afraid to think outside the box a bit though – industries are moving fast, and if you can position yourself as the next “drone lawyer” or “virtual reality lawyer” you might be surprised how effective it could be.
Narrow by Event
If you are fulfilling a particular need that arises in the lifecycle of a business or individual, then you might be able to narrow your digital footprint by reference to that event.
This is essentially what personal injuries lawyers do, as do family lawyers focused on divorce.
Basically you're there to help people when…. [insert here].
Narrow by Common Worldview
This one might be a bit controversial, but there is a lot of power in identifying your firm or your practice with a particular worldview.
Connection with people about topics like religion, politics and other beliefs can offer significant marketing benefits along the way.
Now we need to be careful about two things here:
- Virtue signalling – people can spot fake a mile off, and they're not big fans of hypocrites as a general rule. It's best not to try and create this kind of connection for pure marketing purposes if you don't genuinely have a culture or belief that aligns nicely.
- Yes – you're going to annoy people, and potentially a lot of them. Take a look at Nike and Kapernick if you want as a nice case study.
So… How to Do It?
OK so hopefully you're on board with the idea of going a bit more specific as part of your overall LinkedIn strategy, but the next question is: how do you do it?
There are a few key areas to think about when it comes to “first contact” on your LinkedIn profile – if you can get these primary places set up correctly, then the rest can happen later.
- Your headline – if this just says “lawyer” then it needs fixing. Make it specific and meaningful. Like “Christian Lawyer Helping Churches with Legal Issues” or “I help large Construction Companies resolve Disputes” or similar. Ensure your headline hits the point of connection you identified.
- Your imagery – in particular, your background image but also your headshot. These should be consistent with your audience and something that, as much as possible, is recognisably related. At the very least it shouldn't clash.
- Your summary – first of all, write one (more on that in another article) but quite obviously what you say there should avoid the irrelevant elements and be targeted at the stuff that your clients and potential clients care about – ie, themselves.
For a more detailed look at setting up your LinkedIn profile for success, click here.
So Niche Down your LinkedIn Efforts
Making a few slightly challenging decisions and zooming WAY on in on your LinkedIn targeting can offer some amazing benefits to your overall digital marketing impact.
As an added bonus, it makes things fairly easy to then decide what kind of content you're going to share on the platform since you now have a much sharper view of who your desired market is.
Here's what to do now:
- Niche down your profile
- Send me a connection request or a message mentioning this article, so I can check it out and applaud your efforts.