Monday, April 11, 2011

Lawyers and Law Firms (and others) Still Questioning The Value of LinkedIn and Other Social Media Tools?

A business development focused lawyer I met several years ago sends out a daily email to his friends and colleagues with ideas, questions, observations and other positive pontifications.

He queried recently about the usefulness of LinkedIn and it was forwarded to me by another attorney.  

"I’ve received very little feedback about LinkedIn, and no glowing recommendations for how to use LinkedIn effectively. I am on LinkedIn and I have joined several groups. I get updates of posts from the groups to my email account here at Blanchard Walker, but only a weekly update of statuses. If I stay logged on to LinkedIn, the screen never changes - no instant updates or “wall” like Facebook.

"I, and from your feedback I discern many of you, joined LinkedIn thinking it might be a “professional” type of Facebook. So far, it is tedious and unproductive. I tend to log on infrequently, and the more I log on, the more I wonder why I bother.

"Any of you have success stories about LinkedIn?"
I promptly responded to with my two cents:

I have some strong beliefs about the use of social media (not just for lawyers)..... and find it a powerful tool. The key thing to remember is that it is not a magic bullet.  LinkedIn is different from Facebook and Twitter, but the three are lumped together in the press and by ‘gurus’ who are making a lot of money off the subject.

LinkedIn is not so much about you getting inbound business as it is a way for you and others to discover basic professional information about each other.  You should assume that EVERY client and prospect goes to your LinkedIn profile before calling you or meeting with you. It is an easy way to scan someone's resume / CV. You should be doing this too. 

A partner in a law firm that was considering hiring me to speak at their partner retreat scanned my profile and found I went to college at San Diego State. He had gone there for one year, too.  It was not on his profile, so I could never have known this... but he opened our conversation with this similar point of interest. We talked for 15 minutes about San Diego and this helped us quickly find a common bond.  Wammo... I got the gig.

Make sure your profile looks like you know how to use LinkedIn.  Imagine you were interviewing a potential vendor who told you ‘Oh, I don't use email or cell phones in business.... as I don't "get" it and they don't really matter to me!’ Would you hire them or think they are out of touch?  Yet I talk to lawyers (especially those over 50 years old) all the time who pooh-pooh social media. But if these tools are important to your clients, they had better be important to YOU!

My take is that these social media tools are here to stay, and are growing in use,.... thus lawyers must both understand them, and have an active presence on social media.  Waiting to see if this is all just a fad is not a smart idea at this point.

“At the same time, they do not replace human to human connections.  Law is a relationship business, and remembering that on the other side of a social media connection is a real person is paramount to success."

I consult with lawyers and other business professionals on the best way to maximize LinkedIn.  I am often surprised at how many executives are still baffled by how to best use this as a legitimate tool.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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