Excerpted and adapted from LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, Second Edition by Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields, published by the ABA Law Practice Division.
Participation on LinkedIn can help you identify and learn about potential clients, strategic alliances, and referral sources, and these contacts can be a good way to get the word out about what you are doing, build relationships, and establish your expertise. As the “professional social network,” LinkedIn is a great entry point into social media for lawyers and one with real-world benefits. So, where do you start?
The easiest place to begin is with your Profile. If you have not already created your basic bare-bones LinkedIn Profile, do that first. If you have a Profile already, now is the time to begin putting some meat on those bones and flesh it out to give a more complete picture of who you are and what you do for your clients.
Make sure your Profile includes the following:
- industry and location
- current and past positions with descriptions
- summary, including what you do for clients in language they use and understand
- any necessary disclaimers
We suggest working on your Profile weekly (thirty minutes per week should do it) until you reach All Star (or at least Expert) status on LinkedIn’s Profile Strength meter and then using the suggestions LinkedIn provides to continue to make enhancements. Revisit your Profile periodically to update it and add content. It may take some lawyers longer to reach All Star status simply due to lack of some of the factors LinkedIn uses to evaluate Profile strength. For example, you will not reach All Star or 100 percent completeness for your Profile without Skills (which some lawyers may choose not to include) and without a certain number of Connections.
Your Profile Action Step
Reread and rewrite your Profile summary so that it has an external focus, telling readers exactly what you want them to know about you so that they will want to connect with you.
Upload your contacts to LinkedIn and begin sending out invitations. Work first with those individuals who are already on LinkedIn (remember that once your contacts are uploaded, LinkedIn will show you members by placing the “in” logo next to their names).
Search for potential Connections by seeking out classmates, former colleagues, and members of Groups to which you belong who may not be included in your current contact database.
Add Connections gradually over time. An investment of just fifteen or twenty minutes weekly sending or accepting invitations and using the People You May Know feature will reap rewards. Remember to personalize invitations to make them more effective.
Your Connections Action Step
Try to set and reach a reasonable goal for your total number of Connections. Reaching fifty Connections will help your Profile strength.
You will get the most out of LinkedIn if you actively participate and use it to create, build, and maintain relationships. You have learned how to do that by joining and actively engaging with Groups, posting Updates (both individual and firm wide), monitoring your Connections, and answering questions.
Begin by joining three Groups. Then review activity in those Groups at least weekly for interesting discussions and opportunities to participate. Consider posting regular Updates. Take your LinkedIn relationships off-line: meet a Connection for coffee or lunch or give one a call. Make an effort to find out which of your Connections will be at seminars or conferences you attend by checking their Updates or exploring the Events features of LinkedIn. Plan to meet in person.
Your Participation Action Step
Try to post at least one Update per week for a month. Building relationships takes time, whether in person or online. Use LinkedIn to identify and gain information about people you have just met or will be meeting, and keep using it to strengthen relationships and expand your network.
Participation on LinkedIn can help you identify and learn about potential clients, strategic alliances, and referral sources, and these contacts can be a good way to get the word out about what you are doing, build relationships, and establish your expertise. As the “professional social network,” LinkedIn is a great entry point into social media for lawyers and one with real-world benefits.
For more LinkedIn tips and strategics, order a copy of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, Second Edition today.