LinkedIn may not seem like the “coolest” of the social media tools to be using, but for future lawyers, it’s truly the best one out there – while there may be other tools on the market that your potential future clients are using (and YES you should be using these), some of your best networking opportunities currently exist on LinkedIn. It’s the tool that resonates most in the legal industry, in part because it’s become such a robust and useful platform, but also because some of us are still hoping that there’s a silver bullet out there when it comes to networking and relationship building – spoiler alert: there’s not. Even when you’re using social media, which can supersize your efforts, you still need to have goals, develop a plan, and invest time and effort in order for it to pay off for you.
However, I do have some super quick tips for you today that will help you to better leverage your use of LinkedIn – these small changes will add up to big results IF you do them consistently (like any other tool you use, by the way).
Have a full and complete profile so that people can get to know you: Have you checked your profile recently? Ensure that all of your information is up to date – have you included all of your relevant job experience, which may show transferrable skills that would be valuable at a law firm? Have you included all of your volunteer work? Have you been specific about the law school classes that you’re taking that reflect the specialties that you’re focusing on? The more dialed in you can be with your profile, the easier it will be for potential hires to make the choice to reach out to you.
Make LinkedIn one of the pages that automatically opens when you open your browser – then you don’t have to remember to check it. Equally important (probably more so) is to install the handy app right on your phone. The app is fabulous, and you can browse for a few moments at a time, and interact with people any time you have a few moments of “waiting” – on the train, in line for coffee, waiting for class– before you know it, you’ve done some networking and relationship building without spending too much time on it.
Reach out to someone in some way every day – comment on a status, recommend an article, “like” someone’s post. Again, when you’re spending your “waiting” time doing this, it’s VERY easy and doesn’t require much effort, but it can really pay off.
Participate actively in groups – ask questions, post relevant articles (not just your own – and yes, you can and should be writing, even if you aren’t a practicing lawyer, as long as you’re clear about that), engage with other participants. A key note here is to make sure that the groups you’re in are very relevant to you and the areas of specialty that you’re interested in. This is where knowing what your goals and plan are will come in handy – when you have this outlined, it will be easy to identify which groups make the most sense to be an active participant in.
Take the relationships offline – offer to meet someone in your network who is local for coffee or lunch and look to meet up with those in other cities when you’re traveling. Social media is great, but it’s only one tool in your arsenal. The key is to take those relationships further by engaging in person. Double points if you can also introduce people in your network to other connections that would be of value to them. Be careful about asking someone to “pick their brain” because not everyone is interested in offering free advice, but the majority of people are more than happy to give back when it comes to helping someone who is getting ready to kick off their career.
Start making LinkedIn a regular part of your networking activities, and you’ll start to see real results from your engagement efforts, as long as they’re tied to a goal-oriented plan with action steps.