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How soon should lawyers be on LinkedIn? Now.

There’s a club if you’d like to go

you could meet somebody who really loves you

so you go, and you stand on your own

and you leave on your own

and you go home, and you cry

and you want to die

‘How soon is now’ by The Smiths

“Should I bother with LinkedIn?” This is a question I get a lot from lawyers. The easy answer is yes. There is a lot of compelling evidence of the benefits for lawyers who join. Like the fact that 62% of US-based in-house lawyers spend time on LinkedIn each week. Or that 35% of them have used it to connect with counsel with whom they don’t already work*. But, as with many things, there is a “But…”. Lawyers who sign up, add a bit of basic info to their profile, and then sit back waiting for the phone to ring are going to be terribly disappointed. LinkedIn is a social network. To get anything out of it means having to participate. Like Morrissey at the club, showing up without taking part in the conversation will leave you wanting for connections. Worse still, a poor and incomplete profile can damage your reputation. Better to skip it altogether than to do a poor job at it.

That said, if you are committed to doing it right, LinkedIn could be great for your practice. Here are some possibilities to get you started:

Use it as an opportunity to connect with clients and contacts, old colleagues, and people you know from your university days. You can see what they’re doing now, and be alerted when they get promoted, change jobs, or win an award. Sending along a congratulatory note is a nice way to stay in touch.

Make it your always up-to-date Rolodex. Can’t remember where someone works or find their email address? LinkedIn will let you contact them directly. Your contacts will be able to find you quickly as well.

Looking for an introduction to a particular person or company? LinkedIn will tell you if anyone in your network already has a relationship with the person or company you are trying to meet.

Share your firm’s articles, news and events with your network. With the introduction of CASL, having this free and easy means of getting messages to your contacts is more important than ever.

Stay top of mind. Use LinkedIn is an easy way to keep your network updated about what you do, your areas of expertise, and how you might work together.

No matter how you choose to use LinkedIn, always make it your own. Don’t take the easy route by using the automatic messages LinkedIn creates. Remember, you’re trying to make and build connections, and nothing is more effective than the personal touch.

*Greentarget’s 2014 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey

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