Embracing LinkedIn: Connections

Jun 4th, 2013 | Law Firm Marketing, Legal Marketing in Brief

In every law firm marketing plan we write, we recommend lawyers embrace LinkedIn.  We also offer training in how to best use the platform.

As we train, many lawyers ask us: “I have worked hard to create and nurture my contacts, why would I put them out on the Internet for anyone, including other lawyers, to see and potentially use?”

As a general rule, we say you should keep your Connections on LinkedIn open to be viewed by your existing Connections and be thoughtful about who you subsequently add to the list. It makes sense to add and accept competing lawyers who might refer a conflict, who might want to be or have been co-counsel and to whom you’d refer a matter. Lawyers you do not fully trust, who might actively market a referred client, should be avoided. If you’re connecting to add value and actively nurture relationships—the true purpose of LinkedIn– you’ll get the benefits of helping those you trust and respect, without having to worry about who has access to your list of Connections.

To be more specific, hiding your Connections on LinkedIn minimizes the opportunities available to you on the platform, and list protection can also be achieved by being strategic about with whom you connect. Here are a couple of reasons why hiding your Connections may not be the best approach on LinkedIn.

  • One Goal of Social Media is to Create and Maintain Mutually Beneficial Relationships

The key to being successful on social networks is to “create more value than you capture,” one expert said in a recent article we read. On LinkedIn, part of being a giving participant involves connecting like-minded individuals through introductions. For this to be possible, your Connection list must be visible to those in your network.

In addition, hiding your Connections can be viewed as “unfriendly”. Some people will see that you are not willing to fully open up, participate and help others. So they will not be as helpful when you reach out to them. This is the same strategy we have taught for years in our networking skills workshops— open your network fully and willingly to those whom you trust and you should expect the same in return. Social media is no different than traditional one-on-one personal networking in this regard.

  • Only Your Connections Can View Your Contact List – Not Everyone on LinkedIn

Another aspect to keep in mind is that only those people you’ve connected with can see your contacts. Since not everyone on LinkedIn has the same access levels to your profile information, you have some control over who can view your contact list without hiding it.

By only connecting with people with whom you have established relationships, you’ll have less reason to worry about poaching. If someone you do not trust, like a competitor, wants to connect, simply choose to deny the request and your list will still be protected. In addition, you can also disconnect with people should you decide you are no longer comfortable with them having access to your Connections. When you do this, the person you drop as a Connection is not notified.

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