I just returned from ABA Techshow 2010 and noticed that more and more lawyers are embracing social media. The general consensus of opinion among lawyers seems to be that LinkedIn is the most ‘professional’ of the networks, but in my experience in speaking with lawyers about social media, I’ve found that lawyers are “on” LinkedIn, but they are not using it effectively. Many don’t know what to do other than posting a profile, responding to invitations and occasionally inviting others to link. But they take no other action and rarely follow up.

You would not go to a networking event, collect business cards, do nothing with them, never follow up and expect to get business. You would not join a networking group, put your name on the membership rolls and then never show up and expect to get business. In the same way, you cannot expect to get business from LinkedIn without participation, follow up and engaging your connections.

First, as with any other undertaking, you need to know why you’re joining LinkedIn. What are you hoping to get out of it and who do you want to connect with? To learn more about purpose and social media, see this post on the Legal Ease Blog.

Some quick tips for using LinkedIn:

  • Upload your contacts and invite others to link with you
  • Personalize your invitations; let the contact know how you know them
  • Customize your profile page url: include your name, firm name or brand
  • Join Groups and follow what’s happening in your area(s) of interest and in your clients’ industries
  • Update your profile periodically; make sure it reflects how you help your clients and how you are different
  • Let your personality shine through
  • Keep your status current
  • Join discussions to share your expertise and learn from others
  • Post events and invite others to participate or attend
  • Consider recommendations; even if you don’t want to ask for them, be generous about giving them to others
  • Use the Questions and Answers section to share information and build your expert status
  • Use search features to find people in industries or businesses you’re interested in
  • Look at your connections to see who they are connected to and ask for introductions
  • Follow up and take your LinkedIn relationships offline; pick up the telephone or meet for coffee