What do you do when you want to link to the profile of a lawyer or LexisNexis employee who is active in Martindale-Hubbell Connected, the new professional networking and online community for lawyers and legal professionals from LexisNexis? You link to their profile at LinkedIn, a professional and online community for professionals which Martindale-Hubbell Connected is arguably trying to supplant.

It happened yesterday when I wanted to link to the profile of Alin Wagner-Lahmy, the Senior Product Manager for Martindale Hubbell Connected. I was commenting on Alin’s post about MH Connected’s Social Media Policy & Guidelines’ week.

When I link to blog posts I like to link to profiles about the blogger. One it’s good taste, and two, it gives you, as readers, a place to check my sources credentials.

Alin, as a leader of MH Connected, has a completed profile at MH Connected. The problem is you cannot see the profile unless you are a legal professional, you apply for membership, and Martindale-Hubbell approves your membership. And then you need to connect to Alin before you can see her profile.

As such, linking to Alin’s profile would be a disservice to you, as a reader. So I of course link to Alin’s profile at LinkedIn.

Anyone else see the irony and the flaws of not being able to link to online profiles at MH Connected?

If I am building out a profile online, I want as many people as possible to see it. If I want my profile to be seen, I want my profile out in social media. I want people ‘passing it around’ when they reference me and/or what I say online. I want that profile to come up at Google when people search my name.

The heart of social media is linking. We link to stories on news sites, we link to blog posts we read, we link to tweets, and we link to profiles of people. Social media, and in turn networking through the Internet is all about links.

Building out one profile as a lawyer is tough enough. If I am going to build out a social media/networking profile and maintain it, I want to let as many people as possible see my profile. It’s my living and breathing resume. It grows with my online activity and the relationships I build.

A lawyer’s LinkedIn profile is indexed by Google. It is seen near the top of Google search results when you search the lawyer’s name. A lawyer’s LinkedIn profile can also be linked to by people using social media, generally the influencers of the lawyer’s clients, prospective clients, and referral sources.

A lawyer’s profile at MH Connected is not indexed at Google. The profile is not displayed in Google search results when people search your name. The profile cannot be linked to.

I understand LexisNexis’ position that MH Connected is the largest ‘authenticated’ (phrase used by LexisNexis communications director on Twitter today) online networking community for legal professionals. I understand LexisNexis’ desire to serve the many legal professionals who find online networking a scary proposition and want a safe harbor with limited exposure.

But I’m wondering if MH’s Connected philosophy of building a gated community for legal professionals is misguided? Isn’t the future of online networking and social media in open communities? Doesn’t innovation in the legal profession lie with those willing to take legal professionals where they haven’t gone before (even if it is scary at first)?

What do you guys think?