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Most lawyers have a profile on LinkedIn, but how many know how to use LinkedIn to generate more referrals for their practice?

Create a Complete and Accurate LinkedIn Profile

The first step in getting referrals through LinkedIn is your profile. Your LinkedIn profile is more than just an online resume. Use an up-to-date, professional photograph on your LinkedIn profile. Include both your practice areas as well as some indication that you are lawyer in your LinkedIn headline.

Make sure your current position description and/or your “about” section also include not only all of your areas of practice, but also the jurisdictions where you are licensed and some information about the types clients you represent. Make it easy for a referral source or potential client to make the choice to contact you or send you business.

List all of your relevant skills. Getting endorsed for those skills is proof of your expertise that will give confidence to anyone referring business to you. Similarly, recommendations can go a long way toward providing both referral sources and prospects with additional evidence of your knowledge and ability. When you successfully resolve a client matter, ask your clients if they will write a brief recommendation on LinkedIn. Update your profile periodically to ensure that it is accurate.

Use LinkedIn to Identify and Target Potential Clients and Referral Sources

Take a look at the list of the people who regularly refer business to you – do you see any patterns? Are they in a similar industry, such as accounting, or lawyers in a different practice area from yours? If so, try using the LinkedIn search to locate and connect with people in that industry or area of practice. You can further filter the results by geographic location to identify local targets.

Use LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” suggestions to help identify other potential connections. Join LinkedIn Groups that have people like your prospective clients and referral sources as members. You may find a treasure trove of potential business just by joining one Group. Also, being members of the same LinkedIn Group makes it much easier to start a conversation.

Use LinkedIn’s Company Search to locate companies or organizations in specific industries. Once you have located their Company Page, you can see a list of the organization’s employees on LinkedIn to identify the individual with the title and/or job description most likely to make a legal hiring decision.

Making the Connection

Once you have identified who you want to network with or get work from, there are several methods you can use to connect with them – either on LinkedIn or in the real world.

Use LinkedIn’s search feature to find the LinkedIn profile of the individual you would like to target. Then search their list of LinkedIn connections to see who you are both connected to. Contact the mutual connections who you have strong relationships with to ask them for an introduction or to ask them to refer your target prospect to you. Similarly, when you’ve located a company you would like to do business with, look at the employee list to see who you are already connected to at the company. Then you can ask your existing connection for introduction to the appropriate person within their organization.

Don’t forget to use LinkedIn to connect with the people you already know in real life. Upload your address book to make it easier to find and connect with people you already know. Then send an invitation to connect to every new person you meet. Customize your connection requests to make them more personal, and to provide a reason why the prospect might want to connect with you.

Follow Up

Don’t let your first interaction with a new LinkedIn connection be your last – continue the conversation and follow up periodically. Look for ways to connect with your LinkedIn connections in real life—invite them to events, schedule a telephone call, or meet for coffee.

As always, make sure that anything you do on LinkedIn complies with the ethics rules in your jurisdiction; some rules that might apply include rules regarding advertising and solicitation.

Once you’ve built up your referral network on LinkedIn, export them periodically and get them into your internal database. You can also get more referrals using  ioRefer™ Referral Software.  Its platform technology helps lawyers quickly and easily send and receive referrals within their law firm or within a broader legal/referral network, bar association, or corporate law department.

Additional Referral Resources

Make it Easy to Refer Business to Your Law Firm

Lawyers: How to Get More Referrals

Improving Cross- Selling and Intra-Firm Referrals within your Law Firm