What a long strange trip it’s been since the book I co-authored with Carolyn Elefant, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, was published in 2010. Back then, trying to convince lawyers to use social media for any reason was a tough sell. Very few lawyers used social media and most wanted nothing to do with it.
How times have changed! These days, according to the results of the latest American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, the vast majority of lawyers and law firms use social media. As shared in the survey results, 80% of lawyers report that their firms maintain a presence on social media, and 80% also personally maintain a social media presence for professional purposes.
Not surprisingly, the results showed that LinkedIn is a popular social media site with lawyers; after all, it’s a “professional” social network. According to the report, the majority of lawyers — 57% — indicated that their law firms maintained a LinkedIn presence, and 73% reported that they personally maintained a LinkedIn profile for professional purposes. 31% even shared that they used LinkedIn for reasons unrelated to professional goals.
Usage varied depending on firm size. Larger firms were most likely to have a presence on LinkedIn, with 82% of firms of 100 or more attorneys having a presence in LinkedIn. Next up were 47% of solos, 45% of midsize firms with 10 to 49 lawyers, and 45% of smaller firms with two to nine lawyers.
When it comes to maintaining personal LinkedIn pages for professional purposes, large-firm lawyers led the way, with 87% of lawyers from firms with 500 or more lawyers using LinkedIn, 88% of lawyers from firms with 100 to 499 lawyers, 82% of lawyers from firms with 50 to 99 lawyers, and 79% of lawyers from firms with 10 to 49 lawyers.
So it’s clear that lawyers and their firms are using LinkedIn. Are you one of them? If so, are you using it as effectively as you could be? Probably not. That’s where the recently published book, Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Handbook for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals, comes in.
In this book, co-authored by Dennis Kennedy and Allison Shields, you’ll learn everything you need to know about using LinkedIn as a legal professional. There’s something for everyone in this book, regardless of whether you’ve been on Linkedin for years or whether it’s a new endeavor.
Trust me on this. As someone whose been on LinkedIn for more than a decade now and who has over 221,000 followers, I like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on using LinkedIn. Even so, I learned about quite a few new features that I had been previously unaware of.
At the outset, the authors offer the following very important advice: if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish on Linkedin, you’ll have no idea whether the time you spend on LinkedIn is worth it. That’s why, as they explain, it’s so important to determine your goals in order to get the most out of LinkedIn:
“What are you hiring LinkedIn to do?”…For example, if you are “hiring” LinkedIn to help you find a job, you will use it differently than if you are hiring LinkedIn to help you fill an open position. If you want to hire LinkedIn to find new local clients for your law practice, you will do something different than if you want to hire it to help you find speaking opportunities. Our sense is that LinkedIn will work best for most lawyers and other legal professionals if they hire it to help them create, manage, and care for their network of referrers and potential referrers of business.
The book is divided into six sections. The first section covers the basics and helps you understand how to create (or re-create) an effective profile. It also offers an overview of the platform (both the online and mobile versions), the different account settings, and the benefits of both regular and premium accounts.
Sections 2 through 4 offer a deeper dive into the essentials of LinkedIn profiles, the ins and outs of connecting with others on LinkedIn, and how to effectively participate on LinkedIn in order to achieve your stated goals. Section 5 delves into strategical considerations in greater detail, and Section 6 covers a host of different topics including how to: 1) conduct job searches, 2) used LinkedIn business tools, 3) navigate legal ethics issues, and 4) locate relevant resources.
One great tip that comes in really handy at professional networking events is how to enable and use LinkedIn’s “Find Nearby” feature. I recently used this feature at a conference I attended over the summer and it made it super easy to connect with other conference attendees. In Chapter 13 the authors explain how it works:
If you are at a conference or meeting where people are willing to try the feature, you can ask everyone with the app to turn it on. Everyone will see who else on LinkedIn with feature turned on is present. It then is a simple matter of clicking on people and immediately connecting with them.
Speaking of connecting with others, you can find me on Linkedin here. Then, buy the book, learns the ins and outs of LinkedIn, and put some of your newfound knowledge to work!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business and Community Relations at MyCase, web-based law practice management software. She’s been blogging since 2005, has written a weekly column for the Daily Record since 2007, is the author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York. She’s easily distracted by the potential of bright and shiny tech gadgets, along with good food and wine. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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