Monday, February 8, 2010

LinkedIn for Lawyers - A Few Personal Tips

Here are a few thoughts I have every time I get a LinkedIn invitation:

1. List your area of practice, rather than just associate, partner or lawyer at ABC Firm, in the "headline" space below your name. It will appear whenever your name appears. Let people know what you do as a lawyer. Make it easy for them to see and remember your practice area. This is marketing. This is developing name recognition for something specific as a lawyer. If you are afraid to list a specialty because you believe it will close the door to other potential legal work, consider how many other generic "lawyers" you are competing with in the same geographic region on LinkedIn. Are you willing to miss out on the legal work you really want to do in order to take anything that might come your way? Do you want to stand out or blend in?

2. When you send or accept a LinkedIn invitation to/from someone you know, consider the value of personalizing it with a few more sentences. Notes like that are easy, fast and free. Notes like that help you maintain relationships. At a minimum they say "I'm thinking about you personally rather than as just another name to add to my list." To me it's like the difference between an annual holiday card from a lawyer with (a) just a signature (and who knows who actually signed it) and (b) a signature plus a few sentences or even a single sentence as simple as "Elizabeth, I hope all is well with you" or "Elizabeth, I look forward to working with you again soon", etc.

3. If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone you don't know, personalize the invitation. I don't accept all LinkedIn invitations and I don't accept invitations from people I don't know who don't even introduce themselves and say why they'd like to connect, where they saw me speak, where they met me, or if they know someone I know, etc. Imagine an in-person "networking" event where no one is allowed to speak. It's simply a business card exchange. How would that event serve you in terms of building relationships?

Remember that networking is about building relationships. Use your relationship skills.