Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why is LinkedIn a good tool for lawyers?

Business development is one of the five themes that The Virtual Lawyer will discuss. In thinking about the "law firm of the future," I have to believe that having an Internet presence will be essential to business development. But how do you create an Internet presence, especially for those of us who grew up in the real world (not the virtual world)?

The short answer is: "I don't know, but I need to start somewhere." The Internet presence of lawyers will evolve over time. How lawyers can create (or recreate) their business image online will be a subject for future blogs. What I know today is that creating an Internet presence online is critical. Just the way people shop for music, books, and electronics online today, they will shop for legal services in the future. Now is the time to experiment with creating a "virtual" presence before everyone else figures it out.

To start building an Internet presence, I submitted my profile to LinkedIn. Many people have invited me to join and I cautiously started to "accept" their invitations. There are many different networking tools and social networking sites, but here is why I selected LinkedIn:

First, I believe that professionals and other service providers, like product businesses need to have a strong presence on the Internet. Whether you think of it as being listed in the "Yellow Pages" (before the Internet), or whether you think of it as joining the Chamber of Commerce, professionals need ways to market their services and generate new business contacts. For business professionals, LinkedIn is one of the leading websites for this purpose.

Second, I selected LinkedIn because it is a leader in the market and it's business model depends on adherence to privacy concerns and they have a strong privacy policy (that is more than just boiler plate). See:

Third, a longtime friend, Erik Heels started using LinkedIn as a networking tool and invited me to join his network. Erik is an extremely thoughtful and talented intellectual property lawyer, who is an innovator in his own right within the legal profession. I took great comfort in knowing that Erik was using it despite the privacy concerns. Also, I thought that if Erik was using LinkedIn as a networking tool for lawyers, then I should consider using it as well.

Fourth, I am using LinkedIn as a way to maintain contact with colleagues and friends and to develop professional business relationships. Today, people frequently change email addresses, move away, or change jobs without sending new contact information. Also, I find it rather time consuming to maintain contact information for everyone I know and I often wonder where people currently work. LinkedIn makes it much easier to keep in touch.

Fifth, LinkedIn is a referral-only network with "gated access". The only way users can be connected is if someone they know forwards a contact request to them and the other user accepts the invitation to make a connection. It's okay if people prefer not to make a connection; I just hope they keep me informed of their change of addresses/professional status.

Sixth, the features and connections made using LinkedIn are quite powerful. You can easily find people, share connections, and identify who may help you to make an important introduction. LinkedIn also provides the user with numerous configuration settings that control what information the user shares with the public.

What I like the most about LinkedIn is knowing that regardless of how my business or career changes, I know that people will always be able to find me and it makes it much easier for me to find them. Since joining, I have reconnected with many colleagues that I worked with at previous employers, who now work in other parts of the country.

If you would like to connect with me on LinkedIn, send me an invitation via my profile at <>.

What do you think of LinkedIn as a networking tool for lawyers?


Corey Lavinsky said...

I would strongly recommend to lawyers that they create a robust profile on LinkedIn. I get dozens of solid business leads from people who search LinkedIn and then take the initiative to contact me. It is cost-free to create a LinkedIn profile, and it could pay excellent dividends.


Rosalie Kramm said...

I agree with Roger that having a robust contact list in your network is key to using LinkedIn successfully. I suggest attorneys connect with people they want to do business with, attorneys and "lay people". There is no better way to stay in touch with hundreds of people with weekly updates, et cetera.