"I've been on LinkedIn for five years, but nothing good has ever happened as a result." That is repeated by at least one lawyer in every group I speak to about LinkedIn.
I call this the "Magic Bean Strategy." You remember the story — Jack planted the magic beans and climbed the stalk into the clouds? It worked for Jack, but it won't work for lawyers. They need to use LinkedIn to further their specific business-development goals.
Here are five simple ways lawyers can get more out of LinkedIn:
• Share an important piece of news or information to your network as a LinkedIn update. This is the easiest thing to do on LinkedIn — simply copy and paste an article you think is important or helpful to your clients and hit "share." You are already reading the news — why not share the good stuff with your network? Research by Bufferapp.com reports that if you post 20 times each month, 60 percent of your network will see at least one of your posts. It's important to remember that LinkedIn doesn't email your updates to anybody; they are available to anybody logging in that day.
• Add one new connection every day. You can go the "People You May Know" section to find people worth reaching out to because of a common personal or professional connection. You also can search for specific individual former classmates from college or law school.
• Upload a recent article or PowerPoint presentation to your LinkedIn profile. I'm not talking about sharing these as updates (although you should do that as well); I'm suggesting you permanently add these media to your LinkedIn profile by selecting the "Profile" tab, then "Edit Profile" and, under the "Summary" section, select the box with the plus sign on the right to upload your PowerPoint or video interview. Anybody can add media to their LinkedIn bios, but in my experience vanishingly few lawyers take advantage of this simple way to set themselves apart.
• Use LinkedIn to set up a meeting. LinkedIn makes it easy to work your list of prospects. Shoot them messages and schedule lunch, coffee, breakfast or golf. Do it once each day.
• Schedule 10 minutes each day for LinkedIn. Put it on your calendar. Don't tell me you don't have 10 minutes, either. You eat, don't you? You drink coffee? Schedule 10 minutes and take one of these suggestions every single day. It's not that hard.
The lawyers who bring in business via LinkedIn have a process, and by repeating this process over and over they eventually find success. Great status updates or brilliant comments won't make LinkedIn work for you, but rather consistent, deliberate efforts to advance your goals. It isn't complicated, but it requires more than planting magic beans and waiting for something awesome to happen.