By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
Where do you stand on LinkedIn usage?
"I have a personal LinkedIn account and ...
a. I actively update and manage."
b. it is managed for me by marketing."
c. I rarely use it."
d. I don't remember my login."
Or, e. "I do not have a personal LinkedIn account."
The majority of lawyers that I've polled have a LinkedIn account and rarely use it, or they do not have a personal LinkedIn account. For those of you who answered the question with letter A, kudos to you. For those of you who answered with letters B, C, D or E, it's time to get with the program.
LinkedIn is the most well-established and professional social networking platform on the Internet. It was designed for professionals and continues to maintain a level of business integrity unseen by all of the other social networking platforms. It is an online directory of professionals that is highly visible in search engines.
There are various ways to use LinkedIn to build relationships; here are a few tips.
Build a Robust Profile
Take the time to set up a detailed profile. Be sure to include the words "attorney" and "lawyer." This will help people find you when they search using one term or the other. Include your areas of practice, the cities and states within which you practice and the types of problems you solve for your clients. Then schedule time to update your profile once every three months for 15 minutes to a half hour. This will keep your content relevant and fresh.
Take the time once a week for 15 minutes to send invitations to people you know. There are a few ways to find them: use the search tool and look up names of people you know; connect your LinkedIn profile to your e-mail database and let it search for people you know; search the people connected to companies where you've worked or with which you do business; search for other alumni from the schools you've attended; search for other members of organizations to which you belong; and search the profiles of people you're already connected to, to see who you know that they're connected to.
Share Content of Value
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is not a platform to share your family vacation photos or social agenda. Rather, it is a great platform for sharing articles you've written or read that may have value to your target audience, events that you may be attending or where you may be speaking, industry statistics, relevant business news and more. Be sure to join and actively engage in groups where you can target your shared content even more specifically.
As a professional, you have knowledge that can be helpful to others. While being careful NOT to provide legal advice online, you can still answer questions and provide value to others.
Remember that people do business with those they know, like and trust.
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney, public relations and marketing expert, she is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Rubel and her PR and marketing firm have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, web and graphic design, strategic planning, and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, and you can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter. For more information, visit www.FuriaRubel.com.