In this episode of Lawyer Business Advantage, I have a conversation with an immigration attorney who has become a LinkedIn Biz Dev expert. Roman Zelichenko is the founder of Zelichenko Creative, and his approach is very different from the convention wisdom that you’ll find online. Learn his unique, proven approach that has worked for his clients…coming up next on Lawyer Business Advantage.
Alay Yajnik: It’s my pleasure to welcome to the program, Roman Zelichenko, founder of Zelichenko Creative and an immigration attorney-turned-entrepreneur. Roman, how are you this morning?
Roman Zelichenko: I’m doing super well. Thank you so much for having me on the show. Excited to talk to you today.
Alay Yajnik: Likewise. And thanks for being our guest today. You have a really interesting story. And when we connected, it struck me how unique it was. I would love to hear about your journey from an immigration attorney to an entrepreneur. So take us through that.
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I never actually thought that I would be an entrepreneur. I studied pretty law basically in college and also studied finance, went to law school because I kind of wanted that challenge. I actually wanted to go into kind of a corporate or business law-type of field and fell into immigration law through my first year internship. And I’m an immigrant. I came to the US when I was a kid, but kind of grew up with living the immigrant experience and immigrant household. And through that experience, I kind of just fell in love with immigration. I realized that it really marries both the business side of life and also the personal side, where as lawyers, we help people start new lives, bring their families over, really kind of make fundamental changes. And it was a really good career. So I really kind of tripled down in law school into the immigration field. I started a club. I took all of the courses and internships that were available. I was lucky enough. I graduated in 2013 and I was not we weren’t still fully out of the sort of economic crisis in terms of job prospects. I was lucky, really lucky to get a great job practicing immigration law, what I actually wanted to do. And so, you know, great! Doing the thing that I wanted to do. And I say this all because, again, throughout this process, I never thought, “OK, let me do this for a few years and then start a company.” But when I moved, I was working at a firm in the D.C. area. When I moved there, I was doing the same type of business / immigration work and turned out that are a lot of our clients were not just your traditional kind of corporate entities, but a lot of tech startups, a lot of, you know, really innovative tech companies that were maybe bigger but still operated like startups: a lot of innovation, a lot of really cool stuff they’re working on. And as I worked on their cases, I just started to see, “Wow, these people are building things! They’re solving problems. They’re finding areas of life that need disruption.” And I know it’s an overused term. And this foundation started being started building in my head .
Alay Yajnik: So, yes, the immigration, you really have a true passion for this. You started practicing law in the D.C. area and got exposure to all these tech startups, these companies that are solving these problems at scale. You make a big difference in the lives of individuals. These companies were doing it for hundreds of thousands or millions of people. So the scale was much bigger and they were running an actual business, an actual national company. So what happened with you, as you saw all of that?
Roman Zelichenko: I think two worlds for me collided. On the one hand, I was just always fascinated by and inspired by these companies. On the other hand, day to day as an attorney, not everything you do is always going to be super intellectually stimulating. There’s a lot of work that just has to get done. And we’re seeing this more and more now because there’s a heightened digital revolution in the legal space with folks working from home. But technology in different industries, including the legal industry, typically comes out of frustration or a need for for change. And so I looked at what I was doing on a day to day basis. There’s one particular process that I did in high volume that was really manual. I had to do it, but I just didn’t love it. It’s essentially the compliance process that is part of the H-1B visa application. Required compliance, peace, et cetera. But it’s just boring and it has to be done, but it’s not particularly intellectually stimulating. And so, you know, And then I looked around and I said, “OK, well, there are already immigration sort of case management platforms, right? I mean, lawyers are typically used, especially if you have a sizable firm, you’ll have some kind of CRM or some other kind of tool where you track your your cases and all that.” None of those companies had the solution that I wanted. And so I said, “Someone should build this!” Long story short or now, long story kind of long, I didn’t say to myself, “I’m going to quit the legal practice to go build this.” I actually took a couple of interim steps. I moved back to New York City, where I’m from, where I am now, and got a job at a fintech company as an internal business consultant. So they liked my legal skills, and here I was able to leverage that, but also learned a ton about product management, project management, user experience, design, straight up technology. It was really an incredible learning opportunity. And I think as I was doing this, I started becoming more and more confident with the fact that I might have something to offer on the side. I started consulting with startups because I’m a lawyer, I’ve been working as an internal business consultant for three months. And all of a sudden then turning to my friends, I said, “Hey, I’m a consultant. Do you need help?” And it was one of those things where I just did it. But now when I talk to lawyers, the lesson for me there that I extracted from my own experience was: “just say the thing that you want to be and you will then be that thing.” Right? So like I said, I’m a consultant. I did things for free for a long time. It was mostly kind of legal or pseudolegal legal work that I was doing, but I was doing it for startups, which meant that I was able to now get into startups, right? See what’s happening on the inside. And I started to eventually leverage that to build my own business.
Alay Yajnik: Part of that Roman is you were willing to pay the price, you were willing to do what it took. You weren’t expecting, “OK, I’m going to be a consultant and I’m going to make $300k a year.” You started at the very ground floor and then worked your way up from that.
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, I definitely took a price cut or a salary cut when I went from being a lawyer to a consultant. I mean, it wasn’t awful, but I downgraded and I moved back home. I downgraded my life in some ways. But on the other hand, I was now moving a direction that felt much more aligned with what I recognized was what I wanted to do and be.
Alay Yajnik: So how did you go from there? When you’re a consultant and you’re getting some experience now with startups, you’re enjoying the business aspect of it. How did you go from there to being a LinkedIn marketing coach for lawyers?
Roman Zelichenko: Eventually I kind of weaned off my full time job and became a full time founder. Still had to do some stuff on the side to make money. That being said, I bootstrapped this company and the company’s name is LaborLess. We automate LCA compliance, which is again that H-1B compliance process. I bootstrapped the whole thing. What that means is I don’t have a marketing budget. And so I said, “OK, well, I’ve always been on LinkedIn, but very passively.” I would just update it and find jobs through there or check out news. I never thought of it as a social media platform. And so when I finally launched LaborLess, maybe I had shared one or two articles in the past, but it had never been from the perspective of a content creator. I still remember basically word for word that post on my first day, I took this Twitter – or more so like Instagram, Facebook copy – and I wrote, “Four years ago, I was a lawyer . Three years ago, I was a consultant at a big company. Two years ago, I left that job to work on building a project and today, I’m finally excited to launch.” And it was one of these dramatic posts and that was the launch, right? And again, this was just an organic thing where I was thinking, “This is a B2B platform. My friends are on here, colleagues are on here.” I’m not very open on Facebook and stuff in terms of my personal life. This is something I’m absolutely open to talking about. And LinkedIn felt like the right place. So that was my introduction to getting onto LinkedIn. Now, to answer your question. LinkedIn has a publication tool where you can put out articles, long form articles, you can post on it, and you can also publish literally a full article. There’s a whole word processing feature in it. And so as I launched the company, I thought, “OK, well, I’ve got to put out articles. This is what startups do. They have blogs. And so let me blog on LinkedIn.” So I started blogging about my process. I would do it once a month. Again, I was not very active. I never thought about working on being a professional LinkedIn coach or something like that. I just organically started to do the thing that I had to do to build my business. And over time, the article would get a little bit of news here and there. And the first article that I published that went “viral” is really what changed it for me. And that article was about a conference I went to. And after that conference (it was an immigration technology conference), I stayed up to four o’clock in the morning that day because I was so hyped and I was just excited and I wanted to write about it. So I wrote about the conference. I wrote about my excitement that immigration law and technology were finally joining and all the stuff . I published it the next morning. I went to bed at four, woke up at seven, edited and published it. And that was a Friday. On Monday, I was going to another Access to Justice conference here in New York. I started seeing an uptick in views, which is cool. And then all of a sudden over the weekend, people started connecting with me, partners of law firms started connecting with me, etc. And that next week (I forget it was either Monday or Tuesday), I went to this Access to Justice conference. It was also kind of tech related. People were coming up to me saying, “Roman, I read your article.” And I said, “I don’t know you. How did you hear about my article?” And they said, “Well, a partner at my firm sent it to me.” One of their colleagues sent it to them! And I was thinking, “Oh, my God, this is crazy. I put it out on LinkedIn and it actually got in front of people who aren’t even my connections!” I mean, it was viral in the sense that it was growing outside of itself. It was growing bigger than my network. And I think that was a pivotal moment for me because, number one, I was extremely shy and all of a sudden people were coming up to me saying, “Oh, wow! Great article!” And I was thinking, “I don’t know how to deal with this attention!”
Alay Yajnik: A little weird, isn’t it?
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, a little bit, right?. But more importantly, I realized, “OK, this is a content platform” and that was the mindset shift that changed. And the last thing I’ll say about that story was after that, it’s not that I said, “OK, cool, I’m going to start posting every day on LinkedIn.” I just started looking at LinkedIn differently and understanding that it has power and through that, looking at the rest of social media differently. You know, Instagram, Facebook …and I realized I would never have this kind of reach on Facebook, Instagram today. Maybe a decade ago when they first came out because the algorithm was more favorable. LinkedIn just dominates in terms of organic reach.
Alay Yajnik: There’s a lot that you said there that is fantastic and I’d like to dig into quite a bit of that with you. A few things that jumped out. One is you had content that went viral. And that is that is definitely one of those holy grails of social media, is to have something that you post that goes viral. The other thing you mentioned is that LinkedIn is just dominating when it comes to organic reach. Can you talk a little bit about both of those and how they work together?
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, I mean, “virality,” like you said, is it’s the golden goose egg. And the idea behind it is if someone tries to hack into virality, maybe they can, but eventually the platform will catch up and correct itself. So the idea behind it, for the most part, if you read best practices, it’s “just put out good content,” you know?
Roman Zelichenko: I mean, yes, be smart with hashtags. There are just certain basic things about LinkedIn. So, for example, practical tips: LinkedIn use three to five hash tags. This is something that a lot of LinkedIn experts have talked about for a while. If you put a hash tag “farm” at the bottom, not only is it confusing, my understanding is that the platform might actually look at that and say, “OK, you’re not putting out content. You’re just spamming our platform.” And they might decrease the visibility of your post.
Roman Zelichenko: Another thing, LinkedIn has 1,300 characters that it allows in a post. I think Facebook and Instagram…they may have limits. I’ve never reached it. I think Instagram does. I don’t know about Facebook. But LinkedIn is more than Twitter, it’s 1,300 characters. So what that means is if you want to take up all that space (which I think folks should, because the more you write in theory, the more value you provide) don’t write a block of text. Break it up with whitespace. Because visually, just practically as you’re scrolling through your phone or through the screen, it is visually challenging to read a large black block of black letters on white background. So little things like that are a good practice.
Roman Zelichenko: But if you want to go viral, there will be people that will say, “We’ve got the formula” and maybe they do. But the reality is that unless you’re doing something crazy and dangerous, virality through a blog is not going to happen unless you’re truly, truly providing value. And so what I realized was that, “Oh, wow, the post that I put out provided value .” Also, let me let me point out that when I say “viral”, that article had about five hundred people who read it. And when you look at Instagram and all that kind of stuff, and it’s like a million views or hundreds of thousands of “likes” you think of five hundred is not that big of a number. But think about it: first of all, LinkedIn – these are B2B professionals. If you could guarantee that five hundred of your target audience – if you’re a lawyer and five hundred of your prospective clients full on, read an article you posted that you wrote…and were intrigued by it, I’d say that would be a massive win. Right? So virality in a sense, it’s more about for me the function of how it gets in front of people versus the absolute number of views or something.
Alay Yajnik: I’m glad you brought that up, Roman, because my biggest post on LinkedIn pulled in, I think three thousand. But you know what it was? It was a video I shot when I went to Africa about a a mother and a baby elephant just walking together and the baby elephant’s running along. And then it kind of stumbles and it’s super-cute. That got a ton of hits, right? And you could say that went viral, but that didn’t drive my business forward. In your case, you had five hundred views, maybe, but people are coming up to you and saying, “Hey, I read this. This is terrific.” You’ve got people reaching out and making new connections. I would argue that that five hundred views is way more important than however many thousands of views people get by posting pictures because yours drive action.
Roman Zelichenko: One hundred percent. One hundred percent. And there’s this social media law: you need to have your one hundred true fans, right? You need to have those one hundred people minimum. If you want to build a business or life style around whatever regarding social media, you need to have one hundred people who will, as soon as you post something, they’re reading it. As soon as you’re putting out a video, they’re watching it. They consume your content because they follow you. They like what you have to say. And so that’s really all it takes. Anything above that is awesome. Like from a business perspective: I love people. I like having friends. I like people from all walks of life. But from a purely business standpoint, the people who I want to connect with are folks in the immigration space, because that’s my network. That’s sort of where I sit professionally. So having five hundred people in the immigration or legal space read my article is absolutely way more valuable to me than having three thousand or ten thousand, one hundred thousand people see my stuff. Yeah.
Alay Yajnik: And so when you think about success, when people are talking about LinkedIn marketing and what does success look like for that, how would you describe that?
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, it’s subjective. I think when I work with clients to help them get better at, first of all, branding and marketing themselves in general and then, of course, more specifically on LinkedIn, I first talk about, “Hey, what are your goals ? Are you trying to grow your firm and try to expand like crazy? Are you trying to just manage the firm size as it is now or are you trying to – whatever your goals are – to come to terms with that? That’s number one. Number two, what is your brand? A lot of people don’t have a brand. So in the immigration space, for example. You’ve worked with immigration lawyers.
Alay Yajnik: I’ve worked with several, yeah.
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah. OK, so a lot of folks who are not in the immigration space, if they’re ever exposed to immigration, they think immigration is niche, right? Like if I say litigation, that’s incredibly broad. If I say immigration, that’s feels like a niched area of expertise. However, when you’re in the immigration space, it feels like saying the word immigration means nothing. Do you do asylum? Do you do criminal immigration, as they call it? Do you do removal defense? Do you do employment and visas? Do you do investor visas? And even within those, sometimes there are particular visa categories that people hyperfocus on. And so your brand really depends on what the world sort of knows about you. And I’ve noticed that a lot of solo and small immigration law firms (and I say this because it’s probably the same for litigators or for personal injury or whatever) …they just say, “I’m an immigration lawyer.” But then they have been practicing for ten years and then they say, “All of a sudden my cases are drying up.” And then I ask them about the history of their practice. It goes something like: “Well, I started off doing asylum. Then I had a couple of H-1B visas, so I started doing more of those and then eventually those folks needed naturalization. So I got them.” So my response is, “OK, you’ve been jumping around, right? And what that means is you’re just taking whatever comes your way. And people conversely don’t know you for anything aren’t coming to you for specific purpose.”
Roman Zelichenko: So it’s scary for people to want to niche down. But I find that niching down is really important for your brand. Now, how does that translate into LinkedIn success? The way it translates into success is having a really specific brand enables you to almost quantify how “well” you’re doing on LinkedIn and therefore measure success however you want to measure it. And the last thing I’d want to say is, you’re successful when you have three thousand followers or you’re successful when you have one hundred likes, because that’s not why we’re on LinkedIn. We’re not on here for the metrics. We’re on here for networking. And for business success.
Alay Yajnik: That is a terrific point. And it’s something I think a lot of SEO-type companies can really stand to benefit from, because when you’re working with one of those, typically they’re saying, “Well, we’ve driven so many more views to your website and so many more clicks on your ad or whatever it happens to be. At the end of the day, that’s not really driving your business forward. It may be, but it also may not be. And what’s nice about LinkedIn is not only is it a social media platform, but it’s also a networking tool and it combines both of those very well so you can build real relationships. That being said, my philosophy on business development is: all of the tactics that are out there, whether it’s online ads or whether it’s LinkedIn or networking or speaking or writing or what have you, they can all work for people – they all work for lawyers, but all of them don’t work for every lawyer. And so some tactics aren’t just going to work for some kinds of attorneys and it’s totally fine. So in your experience, who is not a good fit for leveraging LinkedIn to build their personal brand?
Roman Zelichenko: There are probably a lot of detailed or very specific responses to that question, but overall, my philosophy is that anyone is. And let me break it down for you in the immigration context. There are some immigration lawyers whose clients are companies or whose clients are investors or whose clients are, let’s say, high net worth individuals. Those folks are more likely to be on LinkedIn than, say, Facebook. And so for somebody who does business, immigration law and their client is in-house HR at a tech company, it makes all the sense in the world for them to be hyper-active on LinkedIn, connect with that immigration in-house house person at their target company, establish relationships, put out content, etc. etc. And that is like direct business.
Roman Zelichenko: Now, the other side of immigration law, for example, is less of a B2B and more of a B2C, right? So if I’m a family immigration lawyer and I just help individuals from, let’s say, Central South America come to the US on various types of meet their family or visitor visa or something like that, I am not going to have all of those folks be on LinkedIn just because, you know, LinkedIn is very US-heavy. It’s not as fun of a platform. So unless those individuals are themselves more corporate professionals, the likelihood that they’re on LinkedIn just statistically is much lower than, say, Facebook, which has, I think, two billion users, or Instagram, which has one point six or something really high. Those folks are more likely to be on those social media platforms . However, if you’re on LinkedIn and you’re this kind of B2C immigration lawyer, you can still benefit from it. Here’s how: number one, you put out content about your industry, and because it’s a B2B platform, your content isn’t, “Hey, you know, potential immigrants to the US. Here’s how I can help you.” Your content is instead: “Here are things that I’m dealing with right now with this type of immigrant demographic.” And so your target audience then becomes your colleagues, right? You can also put out videos that establish you as an expert in your field where you talk about a case you just did or something like that, again, establishes rapport and expertise. And in the eyes of your colleagues, another thing is industry organization. So in immigration, it’s AILA, it’s one of them, American Immigration Lawyers Association. There are any number of bar associations, etc. Those folks are all on LinkedIn. And those folks, guess what they have? They have podcasts, they have panels, they have boards. They have other kind of organizational things. But your colleagues are all, you know, lawyers just like you or folks who work for these organizations. If you’re putting out good content, they’re going to reach out to you and say, “Hey, this is really interesting. I’ve never seen an article about this. Would you mind? We’d love to have you on to do a podcast episode!” or something like that. And that’s how you build your brand. And believe me, every lawyer wants to – I mean, not every lawyer – but it is really beneficial to be on a bar association panel or to have to have your article featured in some kind of magazine, right? Because the editor of the magazine is probably on LinkedIn and things like that. Plus, if you’re on Facebook, too, you can then share that panel that you did, which further establishes your expertise to your direct client. So while it’s not a direct business development opportunity like somebody who is more of a B2B, I still think that there are very few people who are, like you said, not a good fit, truly.
Alay Yajnik: Yeah, you can almost find a way to make LinkedIn and most marketing strategies, by the way, work. I guess when I think about it with my clients, we’re trying to figure out what marketing strategies work well for them. There’s three things we’re looking at:
Alay Yajnik: 1. Do they have interest in that strategy? If they’re not interested in the strategy, it’s probably not worth pursuing because they’re not going to want to do it .
Alay Yajnik: 2. Do they have some sort of game plan ? And it sounds like from what you’re talking about, having a game plan is really critical to being successful with LinkedIn.
Alay Yajnik: And the third is they are actually willing to commit the resources necessary to make that successful, whether it’s time or whether it’s money or whether it’s a combination thereof. And I guess probably that last bit is probably what I’d like to talk a little bit about . In your experience, what level of commitment is required as far as time and money to have a coherent LinkedIn presence?
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah, money free. The best thing ever. You could create a free profile. Don’t pay for LinkedIn because paid LinkedIn subscriptions are for job seekers for the most part, although I argue that you don’t even need it. And also for recruiters, more so for recruiters – that’s how LinkedIn makes a lot of it’s money. So I think no to low cost. There might be ancillary costs. If you want to make images and you want to use Canva and pay for, even though I use their free version and it is still pretty good. But there are little things like that. Or you want to put out videos and you want to get a mic. Those are costs that funnel back into your social media strategy. But LinkedIn in and of itself always use it for free, at least to start .
Roman Zelichenko: The number one thing in terms of commitment: forget about content. Start off with having a good profile, good picture, good banner image. Make sure your Headline is catchy and clearly explains what you do and advertises your value proposition. And then those are the main things. Make sure you have a really strong About section and don’t make it in third person. Don’t talk about your accolades. Write a little story basically, rather, about why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you’re good at it, why you’re passionate, and then of course, build out your profile. So if you have Experiences like jobs and stuff like that, add that. You don’t have to put in a million bullets, don’t just copy paste your profile. But, you know, that’s less important. Just make sure that you write what you’ve done and then –
Alay Yajnik: Yeah, Roman, I’ve got to hold you up right there because you take a different approach from other LinkedIn marketing experts. So if anyone looks at your LinkedIn profile (and I encourage everyone to look at it), your picture, for example, will be called out by every other LinkedIn expert I know. I know we’ve talked about this. What is your perspective on the conventional wisdom with regards to picture, headline, etc.?
Roman Zelichenko: It’s a great question and it’s something that I’ve really been adamant about. And I was adamant about it before I started even helping others with LinkedIn. My philosophy was that I did not leave corporate America and build my own companies so that other people can bully me and tell me what pictures to put up on my profile. I’ve had somebody who really wanted me on a panel about leaving law and whatever. And they said, ” Do you have anything else?” And I said, “Do you guys want me on the panel?” And they said, “Yeah, of course.” And then I told them to take it or leave it. And guess what? Nobody died. Nobody died. Nobody said, “This person is unprofessional. I’m not talking to them. I’m not listening to them.” So there are baseline things you should do. Have a picture that makes it clear as to what you look like so that people can connect to your face. So if it’s really blurry, that’s not very good. If the lighting is really off. Don’t make it you passed out on the floor drunk because that’s just not – you know what I mean? That said, if you’re an actor whose roles are always playing drunkards on TV, that might make sense, right? There’s always a time and a place for things like that. Don’t be offensive. I mean, there’s super baseline human things that you should just keep in mind when creating your picture or when adding a picture.
Roman Zelichenko: But the fact that I have a picture of myself in a beanie, you know, and I’m outdoors. Let me tell you something. Every person who says, “Oh, but you’re not wearing a suit.” I don’t care about them. And they’re just judging me. For every one of those people, there have been five people that say, “Oh, you like to hike, right?” That’s why I put the picture on there, because I love to hike. I love being outside. And that’s what my picture represents. And for the most part, we make our business. Our business connections end up becoming the stronger business connections and end up becoming somewhat personal, where you learn about their life, you learn about their likes and dislikes. Not just about where they went to school. I think your LinkedIn profile should absolutely reflect that. So, again, be professional, be courteous, don’t be a jerk, don’t be racist, don’t be mean, etc. But you don’t have to be a corporate buttoned-up person unless that’s who you are, just because you think that it’s the right thing to do.
Alay Yajnik: Yeah, bingo . The word that comes to mind is authenticity. And that is a huge part or should be a huge part of everyone’s personal brand. Make sure that how you’re showing up, whether it’s on LinkedIn or whether it’s in other areas, is authentic to the brand that you want to build. And that has to be authentic to who you are. Totally agree that in this day and age you’ll be a lot happier if you’re authentic to who you are versus trying to put forward an image that’s just not you.
Roman Zelichenko: This conversation is much deeper than just LinkedIn, but we’re hearing a lot more about it right now in the context of the civil uprising or the protests, the marches for Black Lives Matter and more, where people are talking about how exhausting it is to go about your daily life, especially at work, pretending and acting. It is emotionally and mentally exhausting. And that is on a much higher level. But fundamentally, to me, the idea is I just want to be myself. That is the fundamental sort of message that that that that sentiment sends to me. And I feel like LinkedIn is such a benign way of being yourself. Why would you have LinkedIn add to the emotional and psychological difficulty of living on a day to day basis?
Alay Yajnik: There’s a lot of challenges going on.
Roman Zelichenko: Exactly! Make it you ! Make it who you are! Some people love putting on suits. That’s where they feel most at home. Some people might want to be themselves, but they’re not yet comfortable enough “unbuttoning” literally and metaphorically. So that’s OK. Don’t push yourself so much where you feel uncomfortable pushing, but at the same time, make sure to be yourself everywhere you go. Especially now that we’re all caught in quarantine, for the most part, we’re all going to LinkedIn much more than we’re going to the coffee shop. So if anything, right now, your online presence is much more of a representation in terms of exposure to the world than than your human self. And so I think it’s just super important right now, maybe perhaps now that I’m thinking about it more than ever before, to really create an online version of you that you feel comfortable with, that you’re proud of, that brands you really, really nicely because don’t set yourself up for anything less than that.
Alay Yajnik: So as we’re wrapping up here, Roman, what are a few tips or just general advice that you have for attorneys who are looking to get into LinkedIn marketing?
Roman Zelichenko: Find your brand. And the reason finding your brand is really important is because it makes being authentic much easier. So if your brand is again, you’re a lemon lawyer, you work on lemon law cases, don’t just sell yourself as a litigator. Sell yourself as (it sounds scary), but literally make your brand be: “I help. I’m a lemon lawyer. I make lemonade out of your car accident.” I don’t know, something like that. It’ll make life so much easier for you in terms of putting out content, because then people can expect a certain type of content from you, given what your actual brand is. And it also allows you to really be clear as to when you go after a client and they say, “Well, what can you do for me?” It gives you more license to say “no,” which is scary for small firms. But I’m sure the “power of no”-type of thing, if you’re adamant and very direct with what you want to take on in terms of work, it just has so many benefits that ripple out. So having that brand is really important. So, OK, goals, brand.
Roman Zelichenko: Once you’ve done that, make sure you have a really great profile. Again, solid picture, doesn’t have to be really buttoned up unless you want it to, make sure the picture is effective.
Roman Zelichenko: Have a banner! If you have that default blue and white banner, it’s OK. It’s not the end of the world, but it sends a subconscious signal to people who are visiting that it’s incomplete because that’s the default image. So put something on there. If you own a firm, you could put a banner of your firm or if you love to put a vista of your favorite peak or if you love to cook, like make that a reflection of you. Because remember LinkedIn is not Facebook, it’s not Instagram. You don’t have a lot of opportunities to sort of put pictures and things like that. That’s OK. But having a picture sets up the vibe of your profile. So just look at it objectively and think, “what vibe is my profile putting out?” And is that what I want? If the vibe is incomplete because it’s missing information, probably nobody wants that. But maybe your current thing says, “Founding partner of X Law Firm.” And there’s just some kind of generic picture on there, see if you could personalize it a little bit more.
Roman Zelichenko: One very concrete tip I always say is for the headline, which is the text underneath your name. The name, the picture and the headline are the only things that show up on LinkedIn across LinkedIn when you comment or something of yours is shared except for someone’s in your profile. So if your name is Jane Smith and you are managing partner of J.S. Law. And you posted an article about something or somebody ” liked” a comment of yours, recognize, that people who come across that sort of notification of yours are going to see your picture. They’re going to see Jane Smith and they’re going to see a founding lawyer or whatever I just said, founding lawyer of James Law Firm. The only thing that signals to them professionally is that you are a lawyer. Now, if I asked you whether or not that’s a good marketing tactic, probably your answer would be no, because it says nothing about what you do. So one concrete tip is change that headline to something that explicitly, explicitly shows your value. For example, for you, it might be “helping lawyers grow their firms.” Maybe you could even be more niche: “helping solos hire their first three people” or whatever, have that value proposition in there. That is more important than saying you’re the founding partner of some kind of a law firm. So that’s a practical tip.
Roman Zelichenko: And then, of course, just in terms of content, just start putting out stuff. I know people are nervous and maybe feel exposed. Maybe they’re afraid of being judged. The thing I do when I talk to lawyers, I ask, “Do you do that? Do you think you’re good at what you do?” They say, “yes.” “Have you had a lot of positive visas, visa immigration results?” “Yes.” “Are you nervous when you talk on panels now? So why are you nervous about posting on LinkedIn?” And when you back into that, they realize, “Oh, I’m just not comfortable with social media and I get really clammed up about it. But truly, I am confident in my skills. I am confident, confident in what I can provide to my network and target demographic. I’m just not comfortable to put it out there on LinkedIn.” But when, again, when you come to that conclusion, you could think, “Oh, why not? It’s just a it’s just a psychological barrier I’m setting up for myself.” So just start posting. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Start posting content. You don’t have to do it every day . Do it once a week, do it once a month. Just start building that muscle. And as you do that, you will get more involved. You’ll get better at understanding what good content is and what works for your client or your network.
Alay Yajnik: You’re involved in a lot of different things at the moment. And your headline, by the way, says “Disruptor.” So what excites you about Zelichenko Creative in the future?
Roman Zelichenko: Yeah. So, you know, I do run two companies. The first one is the immigration tech company I mentioned before. And through that, I built that up, I think, pretty successfully from the perspective of a bootstrap company through LinkedIn, specifically through LinkedIn marketing. So like you said, I launched a second company called Zelichenko Creative, which is a creative agency for immigration lawyers and immigration tech founders and others in the immigration and mobility space. To your point before about authenticity, I can because I know this space, I can help them find their authentic voice because I know the nuances of it. It’s been really exciting helping folks build out their LinkedIn profiles, build out their LinkedIn presence, and many times just find the confidence to start putting out the incredible content that’s in their head out into the world. That is something that I’m really excited and passionate about. Where is it going to go in the future? I don’t know. I just launched my first course, so I’ll be doing a live six week course with a small group of immigration lawyers. I’m excited for that. I want to keep doing that. You know, just help. We’ll continue to help our industry as much as possible.
Alay Yajnik: Yeah, well, your passion for your industry and your authenticity really comes through. It comes through every time I talk to you. And if people want to contact you, how is the best way for them to do that?
Roman Zelichenko: Linkedin.
Alay Yajnik: All right.
Roman Zelichenko: Obviously, there’s an email, but I say go on LinkedIn. My name is Roman Zelichenko. There’s there’s nobody else, I think, in the world with my name . Connect with me. Send me a note. And this is good practice. I like sending notes when you connect to someone so you could say, “I heard your podcast episode, I would love to connect.” It just helps me not have to assume that you’re a spammer. So, yeah, definitely. LinkedIn.
Alay Yajnik: Terrific. Well, Roman, thank you so much for being on the program today. Love the episode. And I know our audience is going to get a ton of value out of it.
Roman Zelichenko: Thank you. I really appreciate you having me. And it’s been a pleasure.
Alay Yajnik: Everyone, that is Roman Zelichenko, founder of Zelichenko Creative. Immigration attorney, entrepreneur and LinkedIn expert. Thank you so much for listening. And that’s a wrap. To get more episodes, webinars and free stuff, visit LawyerBusinessAdvantage.com. My name is Alay Yajnik. Thank you for listening. And remember, there is a rainmaker inside everyone, including you.