5 Ways Lawyers Can Leverage LinkedIn

By Joshua Bonnici

“Well it was great to meet you, Robert. I’ll connect with you on LinkedIn tomorrow.”

LinkedIn. It’s that “social network” site that doesn’t get any love. Facebook has sponsored listings, live video feeds and groups for your old high school pals. Twitter has a streamlined 280-character limit, it’s easier to scroll through for a quick pop-culture update, and hey, POTUS seems to love it.

Then there’s Facebook and Twitter’s nerdy cousin, LinkedIn. How does LinkedIn fit in among the giants, and, more importantly, how can YOU use it effectively? In this article I’ll summarize how I use LinkedIn and some key features I find useful.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a “younger” attorney, and technology comes pretty easy to me. I think the site is simple to navigate and maneuver. However, your mileage may vary. I personally am picky when connecting with people on Facebook, but not so much on LinkedIn. To me, the more people you’re connected with the better — even if you don’t know them extremely well. Ultimately you’ll choose a connection method you’re comfortable with, but the more people you’re linked with allows you to have a better chance to be connected with all of your connection’s connections.
Whew. That’s a lot of connections.

First, some quick facts:

  • 40 million students and recent college graduates have profiles on LinkedIn.
  • There are 56 percent male users and 44 percent female users on LinkedIn.
  • The five countries with the highest number of LinkedIn users are the U.S., India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada.
  • Only 13 percent of millennials (15-34 years old) use LinkedIn.
  • 44 percent of LinkedIn users earn more than $75,000 a year.
  • 41 percent of millionaires use LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn now has 3 million active job listings on the platform.
  • 1 million professionals have published posts on LinkedIn.
  • There have been 1 billion endorsements on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn does what it’s name suggests — links you with other professionals. But how you’re able to be “linked” to them and interact with them is the key. Here are my top five ways I use LinkedIn on a weekly basis, in no particular order, as I build my law practice:

1. Professional Introductions

Looking for a biochemist as an expert or a workers’ compensation lawyer in your small hometown for a family friend? Instead of shooting out a mass email to all your colleagues, jump on your LinkedIn profile, and search for San Diego biochemists. When you conduct the search, several profiles will come up based on occupation of nearby users. On their profile, there will be a qualifying “connection degree” number. It will either read: first, meaning you are personally connected with them; second, meaning you have a mutual connection; or third, you are not connected at all.

Let’s say a biochemist comes up in your search, and there’s a second-degree connection made with an acquaintance you know from your yoga class, Lisa. You reach out to Lisa, and ask her if she knows the biochemist, and if she says yes, you ask for a personal connection. Then, a direct message can be sent through LinkedIn (or you can find a listed email address) for a more personal introduction in place of a cold call, or getting through the biochemist’s gatekeeper.

This process can work for virtually any professional search, and is why I traditionally will connect with the most people I can on LinkedIn. You’ll be surprised how much overlap will occur (or mutual connections you’ll share with others) in such a large professional city like San Diego. I’ve even had new clients tell me that the reason they called and ultimately hired me was because I was connected to their neighbor, whom they trust as being very well-connected and business savvy.

I also use LinkedIn as a tool for colleagues I’m trying to help connect in San Diego. I’ll often tell them to scroll through my contacts on LinkedIn and make a list of five to 10 people they’d like intros to, and make them when asked. That way my colleague is getting a personal intro to someone they want to meet (with quick background information on both parties), and the introduction isn’t a cold call email. This works for me too, as now I’m a resource (hopefully) for both people, which can spur a request for a meeting from my contact whom I may not have seen for a few months.

2. Job Seeking

Whether you’re looking for a job, or want to post an opening you have at your office, LinkedIn can be a great place for that. As mentioned above, over 3 million job postings are currently on LinkedIn, and 40 million LinkedIn users are recent grads.

While I’ve never used this function, I’ve had numerous friends tell me they got job leads off the site. Inquiries can also build links to the company’s website, provide information on applying directly through an online portal, or notify interested parties that your company is hiring. This puts your job opening in an interested job-seeker’s inbox.

3. Branding/SEO

Connections can scroll through LinkedIn’s posting feature to see what updates or articles are posted. I often find good blogs, articles and white papers posted by people who are trying to beef up their exposure and post free content.

Nonetheless, I use this area as my branding and SEO area. I’ll post a blog or photo relating to my injury and disability practice in order to quickly remind my followers what I do and what I’m up to. People can “like” and share the content, just like on Facebook. If you link your website to LinkedIn, or a blog you wrote, that can also help with your SEO as it’s now posted on a large social networking site with millions of clicks a day.

Hint: Don’t want to log into yet another site to post a blog? Use one of my favorite shortcut apps to log into three social networks at once. I use Hootsuite to log into my business Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I post an article I wrote, link it to my site, hit post, and wham! Posted on all three of my sites with one click. Best of all, it’s free for up to three sites.

4. Networking

Want to follow up with that paralegal you met at the last mixer you attended? Want to solidify a coffee meeting with that CEO you ran into at dinner? Through LinkedIn, you’re not just a random email, but a profile reminding them of who you are and what you look like (key for me as I’m terrible with names but great with faces). Connect with them, then send a direct message through LinkedIn.

Similarly, you can direct message someone and use a mutual contact as an intro. Having something in common, or a mutual connection, can often be the reason someone clicks on an email instead of ignoring it as possible spam.

Will LinkedIn replace traditional networking? I don’t think so. But a well put-together profile and strategy on how to connect with others can be a great tool in bringing your networking to the next level.

5. Rolodex

This may be my favorite feature — I have the LinkedIn app on my iPhone. I’ve gone into the settings and selected the option to have all of my LinkedIn connections’ contact information stored in my phone’s “contacts” feature. What does this mean? I have the contact information for all 1,024 of my LinkedIn contacts.

While this may seem overkill for some, it’s nice having people’s info directly in my phone. When a contact asks me for a referral for a business attorney who has an emphasis on 1031 exchanges, I can go directly to my phone’s contact list and find that attorney and all their contact info is there to make the referral on the spot. Or, if you are out of the office and can’t find opposing counsel’s contact info to tell them you’re stuck on the 805 on the way to a depo, search their name in your contacts and now you have their info.

I hope this summary of LinkedIn uses is helpful. Now, go spruce up your profile, get a nice headshot posted, and link away! Feel free to find me on LinkedIn, ask to connect and tell me you read the article. Consider it a guaranteed connection request accepted.

Joshua Bonnici (josh@bonnicilawgroup.com) is the managing attorney for Bonnici Law Group, APC.

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