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Everything About LinkedIn

Unless you've just gotten out of a time machine, if you're a lawyer you've probably heard of LinkedIn.  Statistics show that well over 80 percent of attorneys today currently maintain a LinkedIn profile, and most of those users check their accounts at least once daily.  

If you're in the 20 percent of lawyers who still haven't gotten into LinkedIn, either because you thought it wasn't important or because you didn't quite know the answer to the question “what is LinkedIn?”, know this: LinkedIn is the most powerful social media site for generating attorney leads today.  The best time to learn how to use LinkedIn was 6 years ago—but the second best time is right now.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social media website that is oriented toward professionals, rather than consumers.  Okay, you say—but really, what is LinkedIn?  Well, to put it another way, LinkedIn is like being able to talk simultaneously to your whole Rolodex of contacts, and to actually be able to have conversations and networking opportunities from the comfort of your own office.

If you don't know how to use LinkedIn, don't worry—the site makes it easy, and help is easy to obtain.  When you first set up a LinkedIn profile, you'll add contacts from your e-mail or messaging clients who are already linked to the network.  These people can form the backbone of your social media marketing efforts.  Because so many people are already using the service, it's easy today to go from asking “what is LinkedIn?” to having a profile with hundreds of contacts in just an hour or two.

Who's Using LinkedIn?

The surprising answer is: 150 million users worldwide, including almost everybody in law.  It may surprise you to learn that attorneys at smaller firms and solo practitioners are actually more likely than those at larger firms to have a LinkedIn presence.  Perhaps this is because in the current legal hiring climate, a large number of solo practitioners and small firms are run by recent law school grads who already know how to use LinkedIn.

Typically, people don't learn how to use LinkedIn because they want to make personal connections, but rather to make professional ones.  This means that while a large number of people with Facebook and Twitter accounts are still not completely sure what is LinkedIn, professionals use it every day.  Learning how to use LinkedIn puts you in touch with professionals without needing to worry as much about talking to people far outside your industry.

What's the Point?

Okay, so a lot of lawyers use the website—but what is LinkedIn going to do for your firm?  Learning how to use LinkedIn is important no matter how big your firm is or how reluctant your firm's attorneys are to learn about a new website.  Statistics show that LinkedIn is up to 277 percent more likely to generate conversions than either Facebook or Twitter.  That's a statistic you can't afford to ignore.

How To Use LinkedIn, Tip #1: Read Every Day

When you are first learning what is LinkedIn, you may think that you can just set up your profile, make your connections, and then use them when you see fit—much like your Rolodex.  However, it's not that simple.  Learning how to use LinkedIn well means interacting with the site on a day to day basis and investigating all of its features.

How To Use LinkedIn, Tip #2: Make Your Profile 100% Complete

If you have a profile filled out and are using linked in, but still can't see what is LinkedIn doing for your business, make sure that you've completely filled out your profile.  You definitely need a photo—no, a law firm logo on its own isn't good enough, no matter what—and should fill out any text boxes with engaging, well-written (and grammatically correct) content.  This shows people you're serious about using LinkedIn for networking, rather than just doing the minimum to get on the site.  It also gives them more points of reference and commonality, which can encourage new contacts.

How To Use LinkedIn, Tip #3: Join (and Make!) Groups

Did you know that you can only message someone on LinkedIn if you already have a contact in common?  Well, that's not quite true.  What is LinkedIn doing to allow new contacts?  Simple: if there's someone you'd love to send a message to, but you can't because you're not yet connected, check which groups they belong to.  Join one, and you'll be able to contact the group...and any of its members.

Making your own groups can also help your marketing strategy.  Not only can they help generate interesting conversations about a topic area, they can also be great ways to send targeted messages to a large group.

How To Use LinkedIn, Tip #4: Check Your Contacts

You may wonder when you start using the website: “what is LinkedIn going to do to help me put in all my contacts?”  You'll quickly find that you can import contacts from a wide variety of sources.  It's a mistake to only search once, though.  People who were asking “what is LinkedIn?” just a few weeks ago may have a profile and be actively involved in the site today.  Checking your email contacts regularly to see if anyone new has gotten an account is a fast way to get new contacts that you already have had a connection with.

How To Use LinkedIn, Tip #5: Be a Valuable Participant

Don't just use LinkedIn as a way to broadcast ads or solicit new business.  Instead, look at it as an opportunity to participate in a new community.  You can start by helping people with questions or referring clients to lawyers that you know through LinkedIn as a professional courtesy.  Other lawyers will take notice when you show that you're interested in participating in the website as more than just an advertiser.  Instead of asking “What is LinkedIn going to do for me?”, try asking what you can do for the connections you've already made.

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