LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for practising lawyers, helping to build and strengthen their business network and obtain new clients in the most time-efficient way; forming the basis for them to take the online relationships offline. It is also a very valuable yet surprisingly underused tool for budding lawyers hoping to enter the profession.
LinkedIn can help you to take your first step into the field; it can help you find the right contacts to get your foot in the door or help you to understand more about the people you meet at your training contract or vacation scheme interview.
However, as well as obtaining that precious vacation scheme or training contract, getting to grips with how to make the most of LinkedIn will put you in a strong position for the rest of your career – the majority of solicitors have LinkedIn accounts (68% of UK lawyers are currently on LinkedIn) but many are not using it to its full potential. If you can make it work for you the returns will span far into your career. So, what better time to start than now?
Here are five ‘top tips’ to help you maximise returns from LinkedIn and get the most from your LinkedIn activities:
Get to know your network
Whilst it is important to build your network on LinkedIn, don’t just click the ‘accept’ button and leave it at that. If the connection is someone who could advise you on your career, why not take the opportunity to accept their invitation and then send an email via LinkedIn to get some tips or even arrange a coffee or quick chat?
As with Facebook and Twitter, there is pressure to have as many contacts or possible. Your network will naturally grow and the value of your LinkedIn introductions, endorsements and recommendations will be affected if your network is full of strangers.
With this in mind, it's good to go into it with a legal focus - not only will a network of solicitors and legal professionals come in handy for your career, they'll also share a lot of interesting law-focused content on your LinkedIn feed.
Make sure your invitations to connect are customised
Don’t use the standard LinkedIn message; explain your situation and why you want to connect, and this will add a personal touch and get the conversation started. After all, you wouldn't approach everyone you meet in real life with the same "Hi Mark. I am interested and would like to learn more" greeting.
Join groups (and contribute!)
It is good to join a mixture of law focused groups; this will help you to demonstrate that you are serious about a career in the industry and will enable you to network with others at the same stage in their careers as well as qualified lawyers. Equally important is that this will give potential employers a taste of your personality and whether you might fit into the culture of their firm, the value of which cannot be underestimated!
Share content regularly
Make sure that you share something of value to your network, not just something you want to broadcast, and strive to do this on a weekly basis. Make use of the status update feature on your profile to share interesting articles, and let your connections know what you are doing. This is a great way to show your commercial awareness and engage with law articles and publications. The more you do this, the better.
Always be polite, never reveal confidential information
Don’t say anything through your LinkedIn activities that you would not feel comfortable saying in an offline networking event. An example could be that on an open day at a firm’s offices you are told or came across information which you are not sure is confidential or not. Act cautiously and, if in doubt, don’t share it!