5 LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers: How to Build and Use an Effective Online Profile for Networking

This post is written by Cogent Legal’s senior advisor, Kevin L. Nichols, who’s assisting me in the areas of litigation support and communications. Kevin is the founder of two professional networking LinkedIn groups in the Bay Area with roughly 2,500 members combined. 

Engaging in social networking is somewhat of an oxymoron when it comes to lawyers. Maybe it’s because it goes against much of what they were taught in law school and what they reassure their clients: that they will neither disclose, break confidentiality nor privilege.  Nevertheless, creating and maintaining a social networking profile has become as common as having a cell phone. It’s time for lawyers to get off of the sidelines and network where their clients/potential clients are.

Most professionals use LinkedIn to reconnect with people they went to school with, worked past jobs with, share organizations with, just met and want to remain connected with, or to create connections with new colleagues, because LinkedIn is more professional and highly regarded than its counterparts, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, a recent survey of professionals, reported by Mashable, showed that 61% used LinkedIn for professional networking, compared to 22% using Facebook and 4% using Twitter (13% answered “none”).

Whatever your reason is, while using common sense and exercising moral character, here are five tips on how lawyers can get more out of using LinkedIn:

1. Engage Frequently

Although I do not expect you to scour LinkedIn like a raven (like I do), you should spend 10 to 15 minutes each business day checking on your network and participating in groups. You may find that your classmate from law school just became in-house counsel and recently updated his/her profile accordingly, and by doing so, you may have a new client or referral soon thereafter. In addition to reading and commenting in LinkedIn Groups, there is a wealth of information that can be found using LinkedIn Answers from experts from around the world regarding such topics as the best calendaring tool or time keeping software for solo law firm management, as well as best experts for witnesses. If you have had positive experience using a particular software, vendor, etc., you can also share your experience to help others seeking the same information and create legitimacy your self as an experienced lawyer who utilizes tools to better represent his/her clients.

2. Complete Your Profile

LinkedIn gives you suggestions of what percentage your profile is of completeness. 100% completeness includes a picture (a must have, even if you use your firm’s headshot), a summary, where you went to school and worked, and recommendations from colleagues and service providers. This will maximize your ability to reconnect with people whom you once were affiliated with and share the experience that you have acquired over the years.

3. Build Your Network

It’s so easy nowadays to send referrals that once your profile is complete and people can see what you do, they can send business your way. However, if no one is connected to you, no one will ever know what you do or how you do it. This is one reason why it is important to build a strong network of connections, ideally with people you know and trust, and join LinkedIn Groups related to your legal practice. Be careful whom you add to avoid conflicts of interest or ethical concerns. But it’s wise to connect with people—including competitors—so you can follow what they are up to and know where you both stand or measure up to one another. Knowing that there is a distinction on how you do business versus how they do it can be valuable.

4. Participate Across Many Platforms

There are numerous ways to share information on LinkedIn and to sync your updates with other networks—not just Facebook and Twitter, but other specialty apps. You can post your travel plans that alert colleagues in the cities you will visit via Tripit, or share books that you are reading via Amazon. If you won a favorable outcome on a filing, wrote a stellar article that was published on your blog, in a magazine, or newspaper, why not share it via LinkedIn using JD Supra? The more you share, the more you get out of it, and you never know what will come back to you. What really matters is that you are your own unique person, and you’re developing your own “brand” by participating in social networking. Once you develop your voice, people will follow you because they like what you say and vice versa.

5. Update Frequently

Whether you get a promotion, change firms or read something that you would like to share, update your status and your profile regularly. Upload your latest newsletter or law article. Post an update about a verdict or settlement, or let your colleagues know about an amicus brief you wrote. People are watching, and seeing your updates may jog someone’s memory who wanted to reach out to you for a consultation, referral or another opportunity.

LinkedIn’s 100 million users shrink the professional world from six degrees of separation to about two to three degrees. Social networking is a way of life, so the more involved you are, the more you will get out of it.

You can check out Kevin’s LinkedIn profile and my LinkedIn profile. How do you use LinkedIn to enhance your law practice? Please share your own tips in the comments below.

Knoodle’s Presentation Software Helps Law Firms Develop Business and Cut Costs

By: Kevin L. Nichols, Principal, KLN Consulting Group (June 15, 2011, pages 70-71,  KNOW Magazine for Paralegals)

The landscape of generating new business for law firms has drastically changed over the last 2-3 years.  Arguably, “the billable hour” is on life support and Alternative Fee Agreements (“AFA”) are revolutionizing the industry.  Lawyers need to find new ways to develop business while teetering on the line of violating the self promotion and direct marketing rules governed by the American Bar Association (“ABA”).  Thus, firms are turning to technology to solve this problem by allowing potential clients to find them via social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and other “tech” methods.  Knoodle has an inexpensive tool that can help as well.

 

Knoodle is a “cloud based” (hosted) tool that allows novice users the ability to synchronize audio and/or video files with PowerPoint presentations in a dual-panel display in a matter of minutes.  The presentation can be saved and viewed in a branded learning environment on the Knoodle platform simply by sharing a link to it or exported as a Portable Presentation (standard movie file) that can be viewed on mobile devices, emailed, embedded in a website or blog, or uploaded via social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

 

Many of Knoodle’s clients use the tool to create an online classroom/training learning environment, where users can add downloadable PDFs, documents or hyperlinks and chat live with the presenter and other participants.  Moreover, it allows users to make comments and other annotations to the presentations.  Some universities use Knoodle to teach online classes; however, the legal industry could benefit by taking its power a step further.  Here’s how:

 

Utilizing MCLE Presentations for Business Development Purposes

 

Attorneys are regularly asked to give presentations on an array of topics for MCLE credits to non-profit organizations, professional organizations, clinics, corporate counsel, clients, and potential clients.  Rarely do they use these presentations after they have been completed and seldom are they used for business development purposes or future training.  What if law firms videotaped these presentations, synchronized the slides, and invited current and prospective clients to view them?  What if they made them available for other lawyers in need of MCLE credit and were willing to download the presentation for a fee?  If the presentations were embedded on the firm’s blog with appropriate SEO and potential clients looking for the best employment litigators specializing in the fur trade industry found the firm’s page because it was first on Google’s search results?  LinkedIn recently announced that it reached 100 million users so one can imagine how many people can see one of your firm’s presentations by sharing the link to it within groups or via the firm’s status update.  Capturing this information could be very useful in developing a brand for your firm without directly marketing it.  Moreover, Knoodle provides law firms and vendors the opportunity to “pre-record” webinars to insure the quality of the content and spend more time focusing on the real-time online chat features of WebEx and GoToMeetings.  Knoodle has an audio dubbing feature that you can record the presenter talking over each slide in a controlled environment and the presenter can avoid answering difficult questions that he/she may not otherwise be prepared to answer on the spot.

 

Firms can also use Knoodle for “sales pitches” when they are responding to a Request For Proposal (“RFP”) from a potential client.  Inexpensive high definition cameras, such as Flip cameras, are easy to use and can produce good quality video.  That, coupled with a charismatic presenter, can distinguish one firm from the rest.  This would most likely be in concert with an in-person meeting.

 

Using Knoodle for New Hire and/or Internal MCLE Trainings

Firms can also save time and money by requiring new hires to attend prerecorded presentations prepared by your employment counsel.  The classes can have an online exam at the end of the presentation and Knoodle can provide the test results and other analytics to confirm that the employee passed or failed.  Further, Knoodle can be used to create libraries of MCLEs that attorneys can share with multiple offices and have tests to insure that the participants digested the material appropriately.

 

Knoodle’s pricing model is very cost-effective and offers competitive plans for high volume users.  Most clients can expect to pay around $1 per viewing hour per month – for example, controlled learning environment of 10 viewers each watching an hour presentation would cost the firm $10 per month.  One can easily imagine how revenue can be generated over the minimal costs of utilizing such a tool.  Knoodle is a cost effective, user-friendly tool that anyone can use to create and maintain a brand, and the legal industry could benefit greatly by harnessing its power.  For more information and to sign up for a free trial, please visit http://www.knoodle.com.

 

 

Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com.