LinkedIn Updates and Changes Every Lawyer Should Know

LinkedIn logoLinkedIn has been busy making even more changes to its platform lately. Here’s a summary of some of the changes and updates you should know about:

Skills and Endorsements

LinkedIn’s previously named “Skills and Expertise” section has been re-named “Skills and Endorsements” in part due to feedback LinkedIn received from lawyers who advised that many jurisdictions (including mine – New York) would not allow lawyers to complete any section under the title “expertise” without special certifications. The newly-named “Skills and Endorsements” section should cause less ethics headaches for lawyers. However, there are still cautions. To learn more about endorsements, check out my article on Law Technology Today, LinkedIn Endorsements 101.

Changes to LinkedIn Company Pages

In another article on Law Technology Today, I talked about LinkedIn Company Pages. That article gives a good overview of what lawyers can do with LinkedIn Company Pages for their law firms, but as of April 14, 2014, LinkedIn will be eliminating the Products and Services tab from LinkedIn Company Pages. It turns out that not too many users were taking advantage of this feature of Company Pages. In place of the information that used to be contained in the Products and Services tab, LinkedIn recommends two options. First, you can post Updates to your Company Page about your services. These Updates will appear both on your Page and in your followers’ LinkedIn feeds. You can even include video in your Updates. While this is one option, you may want to use this option for announcements of new services or initiatives, news or other timely items, rather than general descriptions of your practice areas and services.

Your other option is to use Showcase Pages to highlight specific services that your firm might offer. Showcase Pages were introduced by LinkedIn in late 2013 as a way to highlight specific products or services, or to allow businesses to reach specific audiences who might be interested in only a segment of the company’s offerings, rather than their general Company Page updates.

Essentially, Showcase Pages are sub-pages under your main law firm Company Page on LinkedIn, but they are dedicated to one individual service that you provide. Showcase pages can be helpful for law firms who have diverse practice areas and want to post different content to different audiences. As legal marketing expert Nancy Myrland noted in her post announcing Showcase Pages last year, Showcase Pages can also be a great way to institutionalize cross-selling, because all of the Showcase Pages link back to the main Company Page and to one another.

To find out how to drive traffic to your Company Page, you may want to read my post from the Legal Ease blog, “Driving Traffic to your Law Firm Company Page.” These concepts can be applied to your Showcase Pages as well.

LinkedIn Analytics

LinkedIn has been adding some tools within the platform to help you see how much attention your LinkedIn Profile, updates and Page are getting. For example, the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature of LinkedIn now gives you lots of information about the industries and locations of the people who have viewed your Profile, as well as information about how they found you (LinkedIn search, Google search, etc.) – even with a free account (although premium accounts provide even more information). In addition, at the bottom of the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” screen, LinkedIn will also give you suggestions about how you can garner more Profile views.

If you post Updates to your LinkedIn Profile, on your Home Page LinkedIn will provide you with information about how many views and likes your recent Updates have received under “Who’s Viewed Your Updates” in the right sidebar.

If you manage a Company Page for your firm, you’ll get Analytics (stats on the number of impressions, clicks, and interaction) and Page insights (Page views, unique visitors, page clicks).

Blocking Users

LinkedIn recently made some changes that will now allow you to block individual users on the platform. Simply go to the person’s Profile that you want to block and click the down arrow next to the blue button you see on their Profile and click on “block or report.” For more details, including what blocking means on LinkedIn, stay tuned for an upcoming post on Law Technology Today explaining how you can do it.

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Network? (Part II)

networkingThis is Part II of my article, “Are You Getting the Most out of Your Network.” You can read Part I here.

The Harvard Business Review article that inspired the article recommends ‘mapping’ your network – listing your contacts in the first column, who introduced you to that contact in the second column, and the people you introduced that contact to in the third column. If the second column contains too many instances where you met the contact yourself, chances are you may be using the self-similarity principle to build your network. If another name appears frequently in the second column, that person may be a ‘superconnector.’

A superconnector is someone who readily shares their diverse contacts. Paying attention to who your superconnectors are and cultivating those relationships is an important part of building your network. It makes sense to think about how you met your superconnectors, too – what kinds of activities bring you into contact with superconnectors? The article authors suggest looking for superconnectors who may not be in a position of formal authority, but are still good connectors. This is good advice, since those who are in positions of formal authority (whether good connectors or not) are often difficult to get to because everyone else is seeking them out and trying to get into their good graces. Other superconnectors may help diversify your network.

Reviewing the third column of your ‘network map’ helps you see what kind of connector you are, and what activities lead you to make connections between your own contacts.

On a related note, even if you decide that sitting down and ‘mapping’ your entire network isn’t for you, every lawyer should keep track of their contacts somehow. If this information is stored electronically, it is particularly easy to make a note of where, how, and when you met the contact, and/or who introduced you to the contact. You should, as a matter of routine, keep this kind of information about all of your clients. It always makes sense to know where your business is coming from, so that you can continue to cultivate those referral sources, and find similar ones.

Finally, don’t forget to thank your referral sources, whether they are clients, former clients, attorneys or other contacts, regardless of whether you are hired. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a very long way toward continuing the relationship.

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Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Network? (Part I)

NetworkingI just read a great article in the December 2005 Harvard Business Review, entitled, “How to Build Your Network,” by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap. The article also references The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Both are interesting reads about how networks work,and how to make them work effectively for you.

When I was still with my firm, once some of the attorneys really began to get interested in marketing, they found some networking groups to join. Before long, although different attorneys from the office had joined different groups, they noticed that they were seeing all of the same people. The contacts we were making as a firm weren’t as broad as we expected, because the groups were populated by all of the same people.

According to Uzzi and Dunlap, there are a number of factors that can contribute to these kinds of network problems. The first is the ‘self-similarity principle;’ when making contacts, we choose people who are too similar to us. Another problem in network building is the ‘proximity principle,’ in which people tend to populate their networks with people they spend the most time with. These two factors can result in what Uzzi and Dunlap call the ‘echo chamber’ effect, when over time, people introduce their contacts to one another, and the similarity of thought and skill reverberates.

One thing to keep in mind when building your network or deciding how to spend your ‘marketing’ time is that the point of a network is to introduce you to people you wouldn’t meet otherwise. It’s to make diverse contacts. Often, attorneys look at networking just as a way to meet clients directly. But a network should be a way of extending your reach to all kinds of people, whether the people you meet directly end up being clients or not. You want to meet people who can introduce you to potential clients, or who can be good referral sources. But you also want to meet other kinds of people who might be able to help you in your practice in other ways. Often, you don’t know who the best referral sources will be, or where your best ‘help’ will come from.

A lot of attorneys, particularly younger attorneys looking to start building a network, are concerned about joining the ‘right’ groups, and many attorneys end up joining only groups that suffer from the similarity principle or the proximity principle, or both. They do all of their networking with other attorneys, or go to events and only ‘hang out’ with the people they know, rather than being open to meeting new people. Or they think they have to join groups that are specifically touted as ‘networking groups,’ some of which run afoul of some states’ ethical rules.

Although there’s nothing wrong with networking with other attorneys or going to events and spending time with friends and colleagues, attorneys often make the mistake of expecting that kind of activity alone is going to siginficantly expand their network. Or they complain that networking isn’t effective. The problem isn’t that ‘networking’ isn’t effective – it’s that the way they go about it isn’t effective.

So, how do you make networking work for you? Reconsider the groups you join and the way you spend your time. Uzzi and Dunlap recommend using the ‘shared activity principle,’ or expanding your network through “relatively high-stakes activities that connect you with diverse others.” They describe high stakes activities as “activities that evoke passion in participants, necessitate interdependence, and have something at stake.” Caring passionately about something makes it easier to fit into your schedule, relying on others and working toward a goal can build relationships and trust quickly. Contrast that with the more typical ‘networking’ event or meeting where interactions are much more fleeting and controlled.

To make it simple, your network doesn’t have to be built strictly for your business, and probably is less effective if it is. Building your network around what you like to do, and how you prefer to spend your time, is more enjoyable and more effective, and can build more lasting relationships. And after all, being a good lawyer is all about building relationships. So think twice about cutting out those ‘outside’ activities to spend more time at the office – it may be that the people you meet and the connections you make by being involved in that youth soccer league, the local hospital or nonprofit board, the annual fundraiser, or the roadrunner’s club, are an even better investment you can make in your practice.

If you liked this article, read How to Get the Most out of Your Network, Part II.

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Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com. I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!

Don’t Be a Wallflower: Networking Alone

wallflowerEver been to a law firm event and seen lawyers from the same firm stuck together all night like conjoined twins, not interacting with anyone else?

Unfortunately, the tendency for colleagues to stick together at events such as this and not talk to anyone else is very common – even among firm veterans. And it’s a huge wasted opportunity. However, I must admit that I’ve been guilty of this myself. The good news is that these opportunities keep coming, and that anyone can learn to take advantage of them.

Although some might suggest that lawyers in this situation should, “drop your friend and go meet new people,” for some, that’s much easier said than done. I often encourage people to bring a friend to a networking event, because it can make you feel more comfortable, and sometimes can help you network even more effectively. But don’t just stand in the corner and only talk to your friend. Instead, use your friend to help you meet new people.

If you’re too nervous to ‘go it alone,’ here are some suggestions:

1. Set some objectives with your friend ahead of time – perhaps there is a specific person who will be attending the event and whom you would like to meet – tell your friend that your goal is to meet that person during the event. Sharing your goal with someone else makes it much more likely that you’ll meet it. You can help each other reach your goals directly, or just agree to follow up with one another afterwards. If you didn’t meet your goals, talk about why, and how you might be able to help each other next time.

2. A variation on the above is to make the event a game – challenge your friend to see who can meet the most new people in a specific period of time. But don’t forget that the point is to make meaningful connections, not to just collect business cards or make meaningless introductions. Perhaps make it a requirement that you have to find out at least three things about each person you meet. Be creative. Regroup with your friend and share your info. Or better yet, introduce your new ‘connection’ to your friend. You can agree on a reward for the ‘winner’ of your game, too – maybe the winner pays for lunch, coffee, or drinks.

3. Pretend you’re the host. Make it your mission to ensure that all of your ‘guests’ enjoy themselves. A self-proclaimed introvert who belongs to a marketing forum with me came up with this suggestion. She says that when she pretends she’s the host, it’s often easier for her to talk to people that she doesn’t know. If the event is one that’s sponsored by your firm (like the one Jonathan discusses in his post), in a sense, you are the host. Introduce yourself and explain that you’re with the firm. Often, that’s enough to start a conversation going.

4. Another self-proclaimed introvert offers this suggestion: volunteer to help out with the event. As a volunteer, or someone who is ‘part of’ the event, you’ll often have access to people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. And sometimes it’s easier to start a conversation because you’ll have something to talk about. As someone who is ‘in the know,’ you can answer questions or offer to help attendees find things. Once people realize you have the ‘inside scoop,’ they’ll often seek you out, rather than the other way around. If your firm is sponsoring the event, volunteering can win you points with the boss for being a team player, too.

5. Many of us have a much easier time talking about other people than we do talking about ourselves. When you bring a friend to an event, pretend that your purpose at the event is to introduce your friend to lots of people – to make connections for your friend. You can brag about your friend’s accomplishments without feeling uncomfortable. And your friend can do the same for you.

Attending an event with a colleague can reap rewards for both of you, if you’re creative and you make it fun.

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If you liked these articles, subscribe to my e-newsletter, and you’ll receive new articles in your in-box. The articles in the newsletter are not available to the public – the only way to see those articles is to receive the newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Want to learn how I can help you? Learn more about the products and services I offer by clicking here.

Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com. I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!