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The way people communicate has changed, the way we practice the law has changed, and the way professionals meet clients to sell (what… you didn’t know that business development and client care were actually sales?) services has changed. There’s no avoiding it… selling has gone social.
You may have heard the term ‘social selling’ thrown around recently, in relation to social media and business development. In this blog post we’re talking about, specifically, social selling on LinkedIn.

If you think LinkedIn is just a social network for business people, that’s where you’re going wrong – barristers need to start looking at it as a business development tool, a prospective client database, and a selling service.
But, the problem is the legal sector, as a whole, is facing a challenge to adapt to this growing trend of business development going online. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, The Bar is lagging behind… most law firms have already embraced LinkedIn and all its benefits.
It’s easy to chalk this up as only relevant to Direct Access barristers, but, whatever your practice, if you’re not convinced by all of this, let’s just look at the stats, shall we?
Solicitors are using it, effectively, to build their own client and barrister relationships.

Did you know, for example, that?…

• DWF has 1,848 fee earners on LinkedIn
• Bond Dickinson has 846 fee earners on LinkedIn
• DAC Beechcrofthas 1,639 fee earners on LinkedIn
• … and Aviva has over 22,000 employees on LinkedIn… With 583 based in the UK and holding a ‘legal’ job title
• Charles Russell Speechleys has over 650 fee earners on LinkedIn… and 103 Partners or former Partners
• Mishcon de Reya has 698 fee earners on LinkedIn… and 97 Partners
• … and if you just look for ‘Property Partner’ then 38,106 contacts in UK law firms show
• And that’s before we start to consider the potential direct access and in-house contacts that might be listed

So, what do you need to enable you to ‘sell socially’?

A strong personal profile
This is an obvious point, but one so easily missed, and that can be easily rectified. If you are to sell on social media you need to show off what you are selling. Ahem…that’s you basically. This is where we know barristers hit the stumbling block. We get it. Having to sell yourself and set out a market stall all feels a bit shabby.
But there’s no getting away from it. It’s important you have a full profile, with all your listed experience, endorsements and recommendations, specialisms, achievements and qualifications.
The other way to look at it is to consider your LinkedIn profile a great way of drawing together your full CV, some articles you’ve written, some client case studies and a load of great testimonials. And the best bit is because everyone is doing it you don’t look desperate, you look efficient.

Show expertise
As well as above, you shouldn’t just be telling people about your expertise, you should be showing it. You can do this by publishing articles and blog posts on relevant topics and case law to your LinkedIn profile, or articles on court case wins etc. Sharing your knowledge with your audience is key.

Links and connections
Clearly there is little point making a great profile and writing content if you don’t have many connections, so building up your following is key to success. There are traditional methods of requesting, and building links through current business contacts. You can also consider a paid-for Premium Business account, as this allows you to send InMail to people you are not connected to. It also allows you to view unlimited profiles in search results and suggested profiles. All useful when trying to build sales leads.

Direct approaches
Many of the tools and apps available on LinkedIn allow you to make targeted sales approaches to potential clients. This may not be the traditional way to approach new clients, but we can assure you an increasing number of barristers (and lawyers, and businesspeople) are doing it every day. We’ve written several articles over the last few months about various new apps available in LinkedIn (LinkedIn Updates: And how to use them), and ways in which to use the platform within the legal sector (LinkedIn for Lawyers), both of which will give you some great tips. And last week we published an article showcasing 5 great examples of legal LinkedIn accounts and tips for making yours stand-out.

So, what’s holding barristers back?

Time: We know this is one of the biggest factors. You are all busy people, your job is not to sit on social networks and make sales. It’s to represent clients – whether in court, mediation or on the end of the phone, giving advice. Whatever your practice looks like you’ll be concentrating on that, often for long periods at a time. No good if you’ve got a social selling strategy to implement.

Fear of social media: You are not alone if you’re pretty wary of social media platforms, seeing them as bit of an intrusion on privacy and a potential minefield in terms of reputation. But with simple training you can learn techniques for getting the best returns from social selling without opening up yourself (or your set) to undue risk.
If this has been of interest, and you’d like to find out what Elephant Creative can do to help. Take a look at our brochure on LinkedIn and Business Development, which includes prices for a simple fixed-fee service to take all this work out of your hands, or one-off training sessions to enable you to do it all yourself.
Elephant Creative is a specialist legal sector marketing agency. We work for many Top 50 Law Firms in London and top barristers’ chambers in the UK. For further details contact