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A quick guide to LinkedIn for lawyers

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This post was written by Lior Levin, an online marketing consultant for Web hosting companies who works for the master degree in security program at  Tel Aviv University.

LinkedIn is a business networking site that has become an invaluable resource for business people around the world — including lawyers. The site facilitates easy networking and linking to associates and business acquaintances, enhancing an existing business network and expanding it even further. LinkedIn also recently released its own application platform that makes an already-useful network even more important to business people and lawyers alike.

Making a name for yourself. The old saying in business “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is more valid than ever before. LinkedIn is an excellent way to expand any attorney’s network of associates or clients. LinkedIn is also somewhat less time-intensive than other social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, so LinkedIn is perfect for any professional wanting to make contacts but not spend a lot of time regularly updating statuses or comments.

When you have a LinkedIn profile, you make it easier for other professionals within your industry to find you. It’s also a good way for potential new clients to locate you. That alone should be an incentive to have a well-written profile stocked with meaty keywords. Take the time to fill out your profile as completely as possible so that potential employers and clients can see the full breadth of your skills. It’s a good idea to link your profile to writing samples from your blog, a law journal or another website.

LinkedIn also offers you a great way to ask questions of others within your industry. There are plenty of other attorneys on LinkedIn willing to engage in public discussions — this can be a great networking tool. In return, you also have the ability to respond to questions that may have been asked by potential clients. This increases your professional visibility.

Finally, LinkedIn is the ideal site to have previous employers or previous clients leave recommendations or positive comments about your services and skills. This can be an invaluable way for prospective new clients to check out your skills and level of customer satisfaction prior to hiring you.

You may also prompt others to leave recommendations for you if you’re willing to leave one on someone else’s profile first. Remember to keep your comments professional and positive at all times. Your comment may be important to a potential employer or prospective client viewing that person’s profile — but what you write reflects on you too.

Keep up with the competition. LinkedIn can offer attorneys a way to keep up with what others within your industry are up to — including your closest competitors. By keeping up to date with who your own network contacts are befriending, you have the opportunity to see when other lawyers are leaving firms — or even starting their own firms. You can also look at the questions being asked by their prospective clients. This gives you the opportunity to consider how you would answer those same questions before you approach a new client.

Getting new introductions. One of the biggest hurdles to networking is finding the right people who can expand your circle of influence. LinkedIn makes it easy to spot and befriend these superconnectors. Fellow lawyers, prospective clients and others within your industry sphere will be happy to be introduced to someone within the same industry.

Keeping up with new features. In recent weeks, LinkedIn has made several updates that include some additions that could be useful for attorneys. You can now segregate your contacts by group within LinkedIn. This makes it easy to follow any discussions within particular groups, or search for specific people or topics within other groups. This is an extremely useful feature for lawyers wanting to segregate professional groups from client contacts for easier reference.

Mobile applications for the network means there’s no need to worry about getting back to the office to keep up with LinkedIn contacts. Now there’s a very handy iPhone app for LinkedIn available for those who need to stay in touch even when out of the office.