BUSINESS

Networking Tips

Leveraging LinkedIn and More

Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips , now in its third edition, is packed with useful business development advice for both men and women, including these quick tips for successful social networking.

Networking has gotten both easier and more complicated with the advent of Internet social media. Just because you have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook doesn’t mean you have someone to go with you to the mall or, more important from a professional standpoint, to refer business to you. Some of the most respected professional marketers have admitted they are still trying to figure out how to transform time spent on social media into revenue. So keep in mind that the information on a social media site is unlikely to be the last word in a potential client’s investigation. It is just one more brick in building your marketing image.

Keep track of your time. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and whatever the next big social networking thing is, offer you the opportunity to raise your Internet profile without financial expenditure. Don’t underestimate the time commitment, though. If you allow, say, an hour a day for marketing, be sure to include your time on these sites as well.

Leverage LinkedIn. LinkedIn seems to be the most business-oriented of the social media sites. There are a number of ways to elevate your LinkedIn presence:

  • First, fully complete your profile. The more positive information you can provide about your services, your background and you as an individual, the more likely the viewer will consider you a possible service provider. When clients ask, “How can I thank you enough?,” suggest they provide a LinkedIn recommendation for your profile.
  • Second, find and join LinkedIn groups that will allow you to demonstrate your expertise. You can display the logo of the groups you join on your profile page, but if there are too many, the important ones may get lost in the crowd, so display the logos that are most pertinent. One way to find appropriate groups is to search the pages of people you want to network with and see what groups they belong to. You can search for those people by industry, company and geography through Advanced Search. You will automatically be notified when someone in your network joins a group. Consider joining that group yourself.
  • Third, start and participate in discussions in those groups. Your goal should be to provide helpful information, not blatantly advertise. By demonstrating your proficiency in the subject, readers can then click through to your profile to your firm’s site. If you see an interesting post in a discussion, check out that person’s profile. If it looks like someone you want to follow you (and you want to follow), request permission to add him or her to your network.
  • Last, be generous in recommending others.

Here’s another tip: Don’t rush past your home page on LinkedIn. The right column will show you how often your profile is coming up in search results and how many people have viewed your profile. You may be able to figure out who they are with a basic account, unless the description is too generic. If you are not showing up in search results as often as you would like, try tweaking your profile to use more keywords and phrases that match likely searches.

To friend or not? How “friendly” do you want to be on Facebook or other social media sites? Do you accept everyone who wants to electronically befriend you? Many people do. While you can locate potential business prospects on social media sites—e.g., geographically or through interest groups—and then send requests to connect, be discreet in sending and accepting invitations. For example, is there a benefit to connecting with other lawyers in your firm if they are competitors in your practice area? Why would you want to share your marketing outreaches with them? Besides, in some organizations, there may be political reasons to avoid getting attention that someone else covets. It’s bad enough when outside competitors get their hands on your message and piggyback on your creative efforts.

Choose your connections wisely. There is nothing wrong with ignoring or declining an invitation. If you seek to connect with people you don’t know and they indicate they don’t know you, you may find yourself blocked from extending further invitations without meeting further requirements, such as providing the invitee’s e-mail address.

Excerpted from Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, Third Edition, by Theda C. Snyder (ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2010), www.ababooks.org.

Advertisement