I was recently asked by the Institute of Barristers Clerks (IBC) to deliver a talk to its junior ranks on the use of Social Media for business generation. So we considered how Twitter and LinkedIn has become a very fast-growing and effective route to market for many Chambers, Barristers and importantly, Clerks and Practice Managers. Here are some of the key points:

The facts

With 476m users worldwide, availability in 24 languages in 200 countries and sold in Dec 2016 to Microsoft for £26.2 Billion US dollars, LinkedIn’s growth has simply been phenomenal – during a 2016 survey of marketers and those undertaking B2B and B2C transactions, Statista, one of the World’s leading suppliers of statistics, cited 84% and 93%, respectively, were using LinkedIn for promotion and development purposes, seeming to underline its importance for business generation.

My route to LinkedIn

About 5 years ago, I was literally being bombarded daily by a colleague who was set on convincing me of the importance of LinkedIn. He was annoying as hell. Forward to the now and with a network of over 15,000 connections, (each known personally!), two sizeable groups and a significant amount of business generated, it’s safe to say I am now in the firmly ‘converted’ camp.

I’ve also used it successfully to make introductions between my connections, unknown to each other, but who have gone on to work together, just one of the other valuable uses of your network.

Key points

Avoiding many of the more technical aspects of LinkedIn, instead I focused on my own experiences of using LinkedIn and some of the basics, which many people overlook.

In summary:

  • Before you start:
    • Understand what you want to achieve
    • Get buy in from colleagues and attack it together
    • What are others up to? good and bad
    • Aim to be yourself, be consistent and avoid direct sales pitches
  • Create a clearly presented profile:
    • Tell the reader what you do – know your audience (wider than ever), only the Bar understands “1st Junior Clerk or Commercial Barrister”
    • Don’t be egotistical – often the opposite
    • Check grammar/typos/keep it on point
    • Ensure you use keywords consistent with your role/market
    • Add documents or visual content – use your Barristers initially
    • Complete your profile – all of it
    • Professional photo – no smoking gun fingers/Ibiza at 5am
  • Connections:
    • Start with relevant people – build around those (Paralegal/Associate/Partner)
    • Always send personalised messages – cut and paste and amend as necessary
    • When responding, offer something in return or expand on how to work together
    • Avoid irrelevant connections/sales connections/time wasters
    • Stay on top of LinkedIn admin – respond n good time
  • Posts:
    • Don’t dive in – sit on the sidelines and watch others first
    • Don’t post when tired/drunk/annoyed
    • Comment and get involved – doesn’t have to be clever or long
    • Begin to post – build confidence
    • Check source of posts with long threads – can have changed
  • Tips:
    • Create a short plan with targets and objectives
    • Get involved in creating or shaping your Chambers Social Media strategy
    • Seek out free guides/podcasts/updates from the professionals
    • Make approaches – done properly they work
    • Download you contacts regularly
    • Loads of Apps available to save you time

The bit to think about

I’m often asked for my views on the current market and specifically, business generation and development, which I see as the hottest topic at the Bar.

For me its feels like the gloves are off.  The Bar has moved quickly away from past models of business development, previously understated, slow burning and often poorly though out, to today. Its now a much different story, with more and more resources being poured in to business development and marketing.  Roles are being ramped up, freshly created and in some cases, whole teams built to focus on the client care – there should be little doubt that competition for business is at a new level.

There are other things at play too, clients are savvier than ever, have much greater choice and are able to access increasingly sophisticated information. Which makes it even more important for those tasked with business generation at the Bar to continue to strengthen and professionalise entire business development and marketing functions.

Direct access clients are playing an ever more significant role too with many Sets now seeking this route appear in their top 5 client lists and for some, its already number 1.  These clients are switched on, seek value for money and are fully alive to best use of Social Media, including LinkedIn. An easy test is to Google a Barristers name, which is likely to bring up their LinkedIn profile page, completed or not – if its not doing its job properly, how does the savvy client react?

The use of LinkedIn for business development and marketing purposes by those generating work for the Bar is an absolute no brainer. It’s very easy to use, is highly cost effective and fits alongside the Bar’s model of needing to interact quickly and most effectively with multiple clients.

Written by Nick Rees, Managing Director