Part 2: Linkedin for Lawyers
In this post of “To friend or Not to Friend – Social Media for Lawyers,” I address Linkedin for lawyers.
According to the Linkedin Web site, “LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world.” The site says that through its usage, “You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.”
As of mid-February, Linkedin touted more than 35 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world; a new member joins approximately every second, and executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.
So why does this matter to you?
In my book, “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers,” I use an analogy for strategic marketing and PR. I explain that it’s like building a house. Your house needs to have more than one entry point. Ten-plus years ago, we saw Web sites as another entry point to our law firms (the other entry points being our front doors and telephone numbers). Today, you can have exponentially more entry points – including your professional profiles on sites such as Linkedin – if you invest just a little time and a little strategy.
Linkedin is one of the oldest and most established professional networking sites on the Web. If you were to choose only one network on which to have a public profile, this is the one I would suggest. Linkedin is conservative, professional, adheres to a strict set of rules, business-oriented, highly visible in search engines and an easy point of entry for lawyers. For the most part, it serves as an online curriculum vitae (C.V.) or resume which can be linked to your firm’s Web site.
Barry Hurd of 123 Social Media shares a great 123 Guide to Linkedin at http://123socialmedia.com/2008/04/23/123-guide-to-linkedin/. You can also learn the ins and outs of this how to use Linkedin and read the users guide at http://learn.linkedin.com/.
Linkedin also provides applications such as an online contact database, resource sharing such as the “Reading List by Amazon” tool and group forums through which you can engage in thought leader dialogue with colleagues all over the world. You can share presentations, be a resource by connecting colleagues to one another, let people know what you’re up to professional using status updates and gather and provide professional recommendations. To learn about all of the available applications, go to http://learn.linkedin.com/apps/.
And a comment about recommendations: the nice thing is that if someone volunteers to provide you with a testimonial in his/her own words, that testimonial should be exempt from the Rules of Professional Conduct as it is neither you, “the lawyer,” providing the information, nor is it “an advertisement.” Caveat: This is not legal advice. I have not found precedence to support my claim. This is my opinion only and I’m sure another attorney could argue in the alternative.
In answer to a question on Linkedin to the Legal Marketing Group, “How do you answer: To friend or not to friend, Janet Steinman, a New York lawyer said, “You are supposed to know the people who you ‘friend.’ It is completely appropriate to ask for introductions. If you do not know someone and do not have someone who could introduce you, send a message stating why you would like to connect with this person. Ask them to request a connection if they are interested.”
Robert Nigro, also a member of the Linkedin Legal Marketing Group and Marketing Communications Manager at Pepper Hamilton said, “I know people personally who are on LinkedIn, but they aren't a good enough professional match for me to want to be linked to them; I do not use LinkedIn like some people use Facebook. “ He continued, “On LinkedIn, I've tried not to link to many people outside of my current field, legal marketing, or any of my past ones (journalism, broadcasting, freelance editing), even if I know them, if they don't meet some criteria. Could linking to them help me? Or could being linked to me help them? If the answer to either question is no, I don't link.” He concluded, “I have to know the person personally, and, more importantly, know them as a professional, either by direct experience or reputation.”
My opinion is that you should stick to connecting with people that you know, like and trust. That way, when you’re asked to make a connection between colleagues, you can do it with confidence. However, opinions differ greatly on this subject. You should also check out “Allen’s” comments from Part 1 of this series.
If you are going to engage in social media, set aside 10 minutes per day when you are in the office. It is important to include social media as a part of your everyday public relations. Be strategic and productive with your time.
If your company blocks social media sites from your Internet browsers, now is the time to speak with management about why social networking is of value to building and maintaining business.
In Part 3 of To friend or Not to Friend – Social Media for Lawyers, I will talk about the ins and outs of Facebook. Stay tuned to The Legal Intelligencer’s Lawyers and the Media blog.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq.
Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.