Leveraging LinkedIn as Part of Your Marketing Efforts
By Michele W. Gibson
For most ADR professionals, LinkedIn can be fertile
territory for marketing their services and searching for prospective
clients. However, there is a process to using LinkedIn well, and it is
quite possible to damage your reputation if you do it incorrectly.
Start With Your Profile
Assuming you have a profile on LinkedIn (all ADR
professionals should have one regardless of their market niche), this is
your first step in the process. Before you look at your own profile, take
a moment to look at your competitionís profiles. Make a list of what
appeals to you in the way your competitors have presented their
A. What titles have they used for themselves and do they accurately
portray what they do? Attorney-Arbitrator / Mediator? Mediator &
Arbitrator? Perhaps ADR Professional or ADR Professional Specializing in
Intellectual Property Disputes. Are the titles too long to show in their
entirety in the brief search list?
Just because your competitors are on LinkedIn, doesn't mean they're using
it correctly. If you think your title is better than theirs, then use
it. But before you decide on a title for yourself, make sure that it
accurately conveys what you do and that the most important information in
that title is at the beginning. If possible, keep your title short enough
that it doesn't exceed one line in the brief search list.
B. Assuming that your competitors are not fresh out of
school, they typically list some job experience. Is that experience
presented in a functional list that shows prospective clients what they
are really capable of? Or is it posted as just a list of prior employers
with dates? Remember that by listing your experience, you're trying to
convince people that you can handle their cases, while not disclosing
confidential information. Line items such as "Successfully Resolved 35+
Aviation Disputes" or "Mediated 50+ Commercial Real Estate Disputes" tells
the reader what your specialty is, how much work you've done, and that
you've been successful.
C. Age is more than a number, and in ADR work experience
counts. That said, readers donít need to know that you graduated from
Yale Law in 1972. In fact, giving them the date lets them arbitrarily
decide that you are too old or too young to handle their cases. List your
educational institutions and relevant CLE / CE coursework, but leave off
D. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add a lot of
information that nobody is ever interested in. Items such as what your
social interests are belong on a dating profile, not on LinkedIn.
Expand Your Connections
After you have cleaned up your profile, it's time to add to your
list of contacts. Before you balk at this, let me remind you that many
people will reach out to professionals partly because of whom they are
connected to. Being connected to the "right" people in your market niche
can confer a seal of approval to your profile. Even if you've worked in
your market niche for 20+ years, the right connections can suddenly turn
you into an overnight expert in the eyes of someone searching LinkedIn for
the right mediator or arbitrator.
Adding connections does not mean you should start trolling
LinkedIn for anyone whose name you recognize and, in fact, that has the
potential to get you thrown off LinkedIn! Instead, start by making sure
that you are connected to all those people you really know. Then take a
look at their connections. Are there people on their lists that would be
appropriate connections for you? If so, email your contacts and ask them
if you can use them as referrals. If they say yes, then send InMail to
the prospective contacts indicating that your mutual friend thought you
might be good resources for each other.
Once you've expanded your list, make sure you export it to use for your
email marketing efforts. This will keep you top of mind with all your
contacts. Also, make sure you respond to all those pesky little LinkedIn
reminders that tell you when one of your contacts has changed jobs or
celebrated a work anniversary. Not only is it a polite thing to do, but
once again, it gives you the opportunity to be in the front of your
Become a Giver Not Just a Taker
The next step is the one that requires some ongoing work,
but which will also yield long-term benefits for you. It is important to
get involved in some of the groups on LinkedIn that cater to your market
niche. While there are groups for mediators and arbitrators that help
them with things like marketing, process, and training questions, what you
really need are groups like those for people in specific markets who might
be able to use your services.
If you specialize in IP disputes, then look at groups for
entrepreneurs, inventors, and small businesses. Perhaps medical
malpractice is your thing. If so, look for physicians groups. Are you on
the FINRA panel? Go find groups for financial professionals. Regardless
of your market niche, there is a pertinent group or two for you.
Contributing comments and answers within the group will ensure you future
referrals at a minimum, and I can show you several instances where an
answer I gave directly led to business for my firm.
In groups, you also have the opportunity to publicize
recent articles you've written, the expanded resources section or your
website, or the current issue of your newsletter. You can even use groups
to refer fellow ADR professionals when it wouldn't be appropriate for you
to take the case Ė something that will surely lead to a referral for you
from those colleagues in the future.
Join LinkedIn Pulse
Sharing content in discussion groups is one thing, but if you're someone
who likes to write on topics within your niche, consider joining LinkedIn
Pulse. This is LinkedIn's "news" service, and the articles within it get
recommended to LinkedIn members based on the contents of their profile.
If accepted as a writer here, you'll suddenly be a trusted industry expert
whose content is available to thousands of other LinkedIn members.
Now that you've spent a fair amount of your time updating
your profile and getting involved in groups, don't confine your work to
LinkedIn itself. Make sure your website and other locations include links
to your LinkedIn profile.
I am always asked how much time one should expect to put into social media
marketing in order to get results. Assuming you do all the work yourself,
crafting or tweaking a good LinkedIn profile can take 6-8 hours broken
into multiple sessions. This includes the time you spend studying the
profiles of your competition.
Adding LinkedIn contacts is something you should spend a few evenings on
in the beginning and then 30-60 minutes each week. The more time you
spend, the bigger your sphere of influence becomes, and the more business
you will attract.
Finally, the amount of time you spend in LinkedIn discussion groups
depends on how many groups you join and how active those groups are. I
always suggest that people check into their groups 2-3 times a week and
plan to spend an hour or so weekly participating in discussions or
starting new ones.
The bottom line is that any time you spend on LinkedIn will yield
significant results for you. In some cases, you may not realize the
business you are getting (or not losing) as a direct result of your
updated profile and expanded presence on LinkedIn. But as your calendar
tightens over time, you'll begin to start hearing from people that they
found you on LinkedIn, and you will realize that your efforts are bearing
Michele Gibson is a Georgia-registered neutral and a certified
emerging media consultant. She is the president of Digital Smart
Tool, LLC which is an e-marketing firm offering website design, SEO,
electronic newsletters, social media coaching, and marketing training
Phone: 404-592-3367 E-mail: