LinkedIn for Lawyers - Strengthening Your Circle by Establishing the Very Best Connections Part 2
This article discusses the second key to effectively using LinkedIn, which is to have the right strategy for your practice as it relates to adding connections. The first key to effectively using LinkedIn is to create a complete profile that best represents your expertise and experience in your field of practice. The third key is to leverage those contacts and turn them into quality introductions. These three keys should initially take only a few hours to implement, and then as little as an hour a week to start producing results.
As you may have observed, some people have fewer than 100 connections on LinkedIn while others have more than 10,000. How does this vast difference in number of connections affect the user’s experience? How many connections should we have?
The answer is . . . it really depends. Ask yourself the following questions:
- “Do I want to use LinkedIn to brand myself as an expert, connect with existing relationships, or begin new relationships?”
- “Do I want to network with only my best relationships or with everyone?”
- “How much time can I really invest in working at LinkedIn?”
- “Am I targeting a niche where connectivity would be important?”
For example, if a managing partner of a firm never wants to be contacted by anyone for any reason, his or her number of connections on LinkedIn should be very low. In fact, he or she might want to consider not being on LinkedIn at all. At the other extreme, a legal recruiter would be looking to amass a huge network in order to have greater connectivity to the legal community and candidates for open positions.
Whether you decide on building a huge following or an intentionally small one, it’s important for you to develop the right strategy for you! Here are three possible strategies to follow:
A “tight” strategy: Keep your connections limited to only your best and most trusted friends and clients. The idea here is that you only want or need to leverage 100 – 200 people to get the highest-level introductions. This is perfect for people who want more privacy, but still want to have connectivity with their best relationships. Managing partners or high-level partners who have strong networks and a limited amount of time for LinkedIn would use this strategy.
An “open” strategy: Be more open about who you connect with. Reach out and invite almost everyone in your database. You never know where business may come from next. Also, don’t accept an invitation from someone you don’t know. Focus on people with whom you’ve met or spoken and continue to grow your network.
An “all in” strategy: LinkedIn actually has an acronym for folks who follow this strategy. They’re called LIONs, which stands for “LinkedIn open networkers.” LIONs have over 10,000 first-degree connections and are using LinkedIn as their primary source of prospecting for new business. They’ll connect with anyone and accept all invitations to connect. This “all in” strategy is useful when you’re looking to build a cult-like following or have almost limitless access to Second-degree connections. An example of a LION is a legal recruiter who’s looking to find connections anywhere possible.
Whatever your strategy for adding connections, it’s important to choose one before getting too far into the mix. You wouldn’t want to invite thousands of people to connect with you and then change your mind and go small. While it’s possible to remove people from your LinkedIn connections, it’s not something you’d want to do thousands of times.
Once you’ve determined that you want to grow your LinkedIn connections, be sure to use the tools LinkedIn provides to its users. The system will allow you to select and search through Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, AOL and IMAP to find a mass of names and emails of people you can invite to connect with you via LinkedIn. Using this feature is terrific because you won’t have to invite people one at a time. The system will pull out e-mails from your databases, and then you can decide whom to include. I saw one of my clients go from 125 connections to over 500 just by using this feature, which took less than 30 minutes for him to accomplish.