Collecting a network of contacts is the very essence of LI. Here are some tips for building a good collection of LI contacts.
Do consider the quality, not the quantity, of your LI contacts: We all want to be popular but ultimately, the quality of your contacts is more important than the quantity. While a high number of LI contacts may look impressive at first, potential clients will dig deeper and judge you by the details in your profile and the quality of the people in your network.
Do make it easy for people to connect with you: LI allows you to limit invitations to connect to people in a contact list or people that already know your email address (Settings > Email Preferences). Don’t make it hard for people to connect with you. Configure LI so that anyone can send you an invitation to connect.
Don’t accept LI connection requests from people you don’t like or respect: Politely say “no thanks” or just ignore the invite. This can be awkward, especially when people are pesky and keep extending invites to you. Protect your reputation by making sure you like and respect the people you connect with.
Do be careful about conflicts of interest: If you are a litigator, be careful about connecting with the judges, experts or opposing counsel that might be involved with matters you are handling. While you may know them well, and even be good friends with them, consider how having them listed as a LI contact might look to your client or the party on the other side of a matter. Ethics opinions say it is not proper for lawyers to become friends with someone to dig up information about them for use in a litigation matter.
Do send personalized contact requests: Generic connection requests are cold and impersonal. Few things (except a box of chocolates) will make a stronger first impression than a personalized invitation to connect. This is especially helpful if the invitee may not be sure of or recall their connection to you.
Do use the People You May Know feature: Look for this box in the top right of your LI homepage. Click “See more” to see a list of people LI thinks you might know. It generates this list by using keywords and by looking at the contacts of your contacts. It does a good job of finding people that you will know.
Do right-click to open a new tab when extending LI connection invites: I know I will hear from at least a few of you that this is the best tip in this column. After you extend an invite to a new contact, LI gives you a list of other people you may know (it is the “People You May Know” list). What I find really annoying is that clicking on “Connect” to add a new contact causes the list of suggested contacts to disappear or reset to the top. If you right-click on “Connect” and select “Open” in new tab, the invite will appear on a new tab and you still have the list of suggested contacts to work from.
Do mine the contacts lists of people you know: Once you connect with someone in LI, you can see their list of contacts. As many of us work and socialize with the same smallish group of people, looking at the friends of your friends will help you find other people you know. The “Invite accepted” email is a great reminder to do this.
Do use lists of other groups of people you know: I have had great success adding contacts by reviewing lists of names from some of the organizations I participate in (e.g. members of my bar association). This works well, as many LI users do not list the different groups they belong to or the activities they participate in.
Do use the Search feature to find other contacts: Enter the names of companies, law associations or other entities where you know people to add people to your contacts list.
Do remember to invite people you are connecting with in other social media channels to LI: While you will not want to add everyone you connect with in other social media tools, this will get you a few extra contacts.
Do cross-market your LI presence: Let people know you are on LI by adding the LI logo or your LI URL to your business cards, email signature, firm website (make it a link), promotional materials, article bylines, PowerPoints and anywhere else it will be visible to existing or potential clients.
For even more LinkedIn tips, see my Essential Do’s and Don’ts for LinkedIn Users article which appeared in the November/December issue of ABA LPM section’s Law Practice magazine.