LinkedIn for lawyers

The amount of engagement on LinkedIn is on the rise. More comments and likes on posts, more requests to connect and more messages exchanged between connections.

This is all good for lawyers. LinkedIn’s been a “safer” and more “understandable” social network for lawyers and law firms than Facebook and Twitter.

Rather than trying to figure out offline who to meet and how to meet them, lawyers are meeting people and building relationships from their desktop or iPhone.

Let me share an example. Last week I was hosting a “Law Blogger Con” at the New York City Bar Association. Law Blogger Con is an informal get together of law bloggers and wannabe law bloggers to share insight and ideas for growing as bloggers – particularly improving as lawyers and growing business.

I was worried that a listing at the Bar Association and some emails I sent out weren’t going to be enough to get people there. So I did an advanced search on LinkedIn to find my 1st degree connections in the New York City metro area. A thousand of them.

I skimmed through the connections and sent individual messages to those I wanted to invite through the LinkedIn message feature which displayed next to the person’s name on the list. I don’t know how many I sent out — about a hundred or two, apologizing that I was just sending the message (same for all, except the name) the night before.

I received about 25 notes in response. Nice notes, most saying they couldn’t make it this time, asking that I stay in touch so they can make it next time and a few asking to talk about blogging and what LexBlog could do to help to them. And the notes keep trickling in.

Another example are the messages I exchange with people when they request to connect or I request to connect with them. They feel informal and unobtrusive. These exchanges are also leading to relationships and business. These requests to connect and the exchanges are growing in number.

Finally, I’m receiving more likes and comments on LinkedIn when I share my blog posts in the LinkedIn status update. Not on every post, but a lot of them. I use the comments and likes as an opportunity to engage, via LinkedIn messaging, the people I want to get to know better. Some lead to phone calls and some lead to face to face meetings.

Why the uptake in activity? I am not a rocket scientist, but I think it’s a combination of LinkedIn making improvements in its app and more business and legal professionals taking to social media.

When LinkedIn first made improvements to its mobile app the end of last year, I saw a good bump in engagement. A user interface, which continues to improve, with subtle upgrades, gets us using the app more often. The key then becomes machine learning and algorithms.

Who would we like to meet? What would we like to see?  The better LinkedIn gets in delivering on this via algorithms, the more we’re going to return and the more time we’re going to spend on LinkedIn. And the more time we spend on LinkedIn, the more data it has on who and what we like.

Just as important is lawyers acknowledging that social media is where clients, prospective clients, referral sources and business leaders are hanging out. Marketing professionals and conference speakers telling lawyers to wake up for the last five or six years didn’t register. But when lawyers saw they were going to go hungry without networking online, they acted — and many have come to LinkedIn and begun to use it as more than a roledex.

I am a big fan of Facebook, but I’ll confess that LinkedIn is awful darn good as way to meet people, nurture relationships, arrange face to face meetings and grow business.