When I first started talking to lawyers about social media in early 2009, there were barely more than 30 million LinkedIn users worldwide. A common complaint I would hear from lawyers was, “Nobody I do business with uses LinkedIn.” This is no longer the case.
The most recent BTI Consulting report shows that 70% of corporate counsel use LinkedIn as a tool, and half rely on it. Executives from every Fortune 500 company are using LinkedIn. Take a look at the lawyers at your firm: Do at least 70% of them have LinkedIn accounts? If they don’t, it’s time to get cracking. With 100 million members, LinkedIn matters.
The first step in creating a LinkedIn account (if you don’t already have one) is to go to LinkedIn.com and click on “Join Today.” Then, follow the prompts.
For the rest of you, here are five tips for using LinkedIn that you might be unaware of.
THE BACK DOOR APPROACH
LinkedIn users get frustrated when they can’t send a message to high-value contacts they aren’t connected to. The obvious approach is to ask one of your connections to make an introduction. This works, but takes time. A quicker method is to join a group to which the high-value contact already belongs. Members of the same group can send messages to each other even if they are not directly connected. If this fails, you can upgrade to a premium account, which lets you send “inmails” to anybody on LinkedIn, even if you aren’t connected. I don’t recommend sending inmails, however, because they come across as somewhat desperate.
MAKE YOUR TITLE SPECIFIC
Just below your name on your LinkedIn profile there is a space for your professional “headline.” The vast majority of lawyers simply write, “Shareholder at Law Firm X,” or something similar. This is a missed opportunity to make a first impression that tells people specifically what you do.
UPDATE YOUR OUTLOOK CONTACTS OFTEN
When you joined LinkedIn, chances are that you imported your Outlook address book and sent invites to a bunch of your contacts. It’s time to do it again. With more 1 million people joining LinkedIn each week, the chances are that many of your contacts who weren’t members when you joined are members now. Just log in to your LinkedIn account and click on “Contacts,” then “Add Connections,” and then follow the prompts.
MONITOR WHO IS READING YOUR PROFILE
Facebook isn’t set up to allow you to see who has viewed your profile. If you ever get sent a link telling you there is a program that allows you to see who is viewing your profile, ignore it â€” it is likely spam, malware or worse.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, has built into its platform the ability to see who is reading your profile. This is a premium service, but by spending $20 per month you can see the names of people who have viewed your profile. I’ve been using this service for more than a year, and it has led to meetings with some high-value contacts who I thought were no longer interested in my services. The service isn’t very expensive, but if it leads to one more meeting with a potential client, then it is well worth the investment.
Does this service creep you out? Then go to “Settings” in the top right hand corner. Then hit “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.”
ADD POWER POINT PRESENTATIONS TO YOUR LINKEDIN BIO
Did you just spend 10 hours preparing a powerpoint presentation for a CLE nobody attended? No worries â€” you can upload the slides to the social network Slideshare.net and then add your latest power point slides directly to your LinkedIn account. Once you have set up the account by following the Slideshare prompts, you can simply click on “More” and then “Get more applications” and finally choose “Slideshare” and your presentations will be added to your profile just below your profile summary.
According to the BTI report, “Online presence is now so pervasive, 51.4% of corporate counsel will stop and think a minute before hiring a lawyer who lacks a credible online presence in addition to their official law firm bio.” Buyers are starting to pay attention to your online presence. Maybe it is time that you did, too.
Still want more LinkedIn tips? Amy Knapp and I are collaborating on a book to provide a step-by-step guide on how to make LinkedIn an effective part of your online strategy. The title of the book is Social Media for Lawyers: LinkedIn, Blog and Website Edition (September of 2011, Ark Group.) To sign up for my updates and to be the first to know when it is published, go to http://adriandayton.com.