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Link In to Social Networking

Wondering where you can find your next new client? Internet savvy attorneys are hitting the keyboard to build online referral networks that supplement traditional face-to-face networking. LinkedIn® is one of the most popular "social networking" sites among business users today. Over 30 million professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries, connect with prospects electronically on LinkedIn. You can too! Read this article to learn how.

To get started, simply go to and fill out your profile. The next step is to start inviting co-workers, business acquaintances, friends and others to link to you. Using the "six degrees of separation" concept, you benefit by gaining potential access to hundreds or thousands of contacts as your LinkedIn network grows.

The legal community has been quick to adopt LinkedIn. Broward County and other South Florida law firms with corporate and attorney profiles on LinkedIn include Adorno & Yoss, Akerman Senterfitt, Becker & Poliakoff, Bilzin Sumberg, GrayRobinson, Greenberg Traurig, Gunster Yoakley, Holland & Knight, Ruden McCloskey, Steel Hector, and more. Basic LinkedIn service is free, with optional upgrades available for special features.

LexisNexis, the parent company of Martindale-Hubbell, announced a major data sharing partnership with LinkedIn earlier this year. law firm and attorney profiles now display a small blue LinkedIn icon for firms active in both services. LinkedIn members who visit the Martindale site can view common connections with a listed attorney if they allow Martindale to search their LinkedIn account. While some consider this to be intrusive or a privacy matter, it is consistent with the primary social networking goal of finding potential sources of mutual introductions for business development purposes.

Why should you join LinkedIn? Here are five reasons that come to mind immediately. First of all, it is a free way to expand your marketing efforts. Second, LinkedIn increases your search engine visibility because it is so focused on bringing people together online. Third, you have the potential to develop new business by identifying mutual connections and requesting introductions. Fourth, you demonstrate your technical mastery by building an online network. Fifth, failure to network online leaves you with a competitive disadvantage.

LinkedIn features "groups" of people with common interests, similar to a listserv. Active LinkedIn legal groups include Patent Law (2,000 members), European lawyer group (800 members), business start-up group (1,400 members), regulatory and compliance group (1,300), a personal injury attorney network (141 members) and a legal blogging group (87 members). If you don’t find a group you like, you can easily start your own.

One of the LinkedIn features we like is that you can volunteer to answer questions online in your area of expertise. While obviously you will need to be careful about conforming to Florida Bar guidelines, positioning yourself as a source of valuable information will help to expose you to a wider online audience while being viewed as a legal leader in your field.

If you already publish a blog, you can easily display your blog posts as part of your LinkedIn profile. Use this free technique to extend the reach of your online communications. Reporters, prospective clients and other interested parties are more likely to find you online when you employ a broader range of dissemination techniques.

Promote your legal services by posting a PowerPoint presentation describing your work as part of your LinkedIn profile. It just takes a few minutes to upload a file, using shared document features available as part of GoogleDocs. You can also run text ads associated with your profile, similar to Google AdWords.

Here are two real-world examples of how you might use LinkedIn as part of your business development efforts. Say you want to meet a specific executive at AutoNation or Citrix. You can look that person up on LinkedIn, then see if the two of you have any common acquaintances. If so, you can ask for an introduction. Or perhaps one of your clients needs a referral to an employment attorney in New York for a local matter. You can check your LinkedIn network to see if someone you know might have a connection. It’s a "win- win" situation when you find the right contact on LinkedIn, because you get what you need, your referral source looks good, and your New York contact may be able to reciprocate by sending you business in the future.

There are competitive considerations in using a service like LinkedIn, of course, particularly since you are opening up your contact list for online viewing by any visitor. There are risks, however, for most Internet marketing initiatives. Overall, the benefits more than offset any disadvantages. You need to determine what is right for you.

As you can see from this article, social networking is rapidly becoming a commonly used technique to extend your referral network. Use your new understanding of LinkedIn to extend the reach of your web site, legal directory listings and other online marketing techniques.

You are now invited to join me on LinkedIn! Sign up and send me an invitation to join your network.

By Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
Legal Marketing, Expert Marketing, Attorney Marketing, Lawyer Marketing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Grisdela
Margaret Grisdela is President of the South Florida legal marketing agency Legal Expert Connections, Inc., focused on business development for law firms, attorneys, lawyers, forensic experts, and litigation support. She is the author of the legal marketing book “Courting Your Clients,” and 2008 Co-Chair of the Legal Marketing Association, South Florida City Group. Services include business development training, attorney marketing plans, law firm web sites, law firm brochures, speaking engagements, article placement, and more.

Copyright Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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