As lawyers and law firms seek to increase their online visibility and grow their professional connections, strong LinkedIn profiles (both for individuals and organizations) are an indispensable foundation. What many legal professionals fail to recognize, however, is that merely maintaining a LinkedIn profile is only scratching the surface of this site’s power. The real opportunities here are to be found by actively participating in LinkedIn’s professional groups.
Why Do Legal Professionals Often Fail to Take Advantage of LinkedIn Groups?
When legal pros steer clear of LinkedIn groups, it’s partly because they simply don’t know where to begin — and given the sheer number of LinkedIn groups, that confusion is understandable. (Entering the generic term “lawyers,” for example, in the LinkedIn search box will yield more than 5,000 groups — which could have something of a “chilling effect” on a new user.)
There’s a better way: First of all, get clear about your objectives. In order to meet a Professional Development goal, for example, you may want a content-specific group that includes competitors and peers from around the country. The group you choose to meet your Client-Generation goal, in contrast, may include lots of GCs from your specific geographic market. Keeping these objectives firmly in mind will help you isolate groups worthy of the time and energy you seek to invest.
Next, develop highly specific keywords that best match your niches and interests. Then log in to your LinkedIn account. From the toolbar at the top of each page, click on the icon just left of the “Search” box and select “Groups” from the pulldown menu. Enter various keyword combinations, and then examine the resulting groups to find the ones that best meet your criteria. Note that you can use the LinkedIn “filters” (on the left sidebar) to sort results and tailor the choices to better suit your specific interests and needs.
You also can inform your choices by reviewing the quality of “thought leadership” and content appearing in various groups. Begin by entering your keywords and generating a raw list of “candidate” groups. In the left sidebar, you’ll see the boldface “Groups” heading and (directly below) a subhead marked “More…” Click the “More…” link and you’ll find an item labeled “Articles.” This will provide you with a stream of recent and relevant posts by members of the groups you’re considering — enabling you to identify and review opinion leaders and the groups to which they belong. You’ll soon get a sense of the topics and people that are relevant to your strategic interests.
As a complement to the keyword searching described above, you might want to review a relevant group or two from those listed below. (This exercise might help you answer the question: “How do I know a good LinkedIn group when I see one?”)
A Sample of Noteworthy LinkedIn Groups for Legal Professionals:*
(Note: Sign into your LinkedIn account before clicking these links.)
Appellate Lawyer Network 1,849 Members (January 2014)
Association of Litigation Support Professionals — National Association 8,093 Members (January 2014)
ASTC’s Jury and Trial Research Interest Group 1,018 Members (January 2014)
AVVO Lawyers 2,039 Members (January 2014)
DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar 15,709 Members (January 2014)
E-LEGAL 99,999 Members (January 2014)
KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals 8,318 Members (January 2014)
Law Practice Boutique 1,086 Members (January 2014)
Law Practice Management and Technology Today Members (January 2014)
Legal IT Network 44,957 Members (January 2014)
Legal Productivity 319 Members (January 2014)
Litigation Support Professional Networking 17,457 Members (January 2014)
Personal Injury Attorney Network 6,329 Members (January 2014)
Solo Attorney Practitioner’s Forum 7,358 Members (January 2014)
The Best LinkedIn Group May Be The One You Start
One last point. It may well be that the question: “What’s the best LinkedIn group for a legal professional?” is best met with this answer: The one you personally start. Managing a LinkedIn group allows you to “show up” as a leader — which can be invaluable in generating new clients and employment opportunities. With thousands of legal groups already in existence on this site, there are numerous models for effectively building these professional communities. If you’re interested in knowing more about creating your own LinkedIn group, check out these posts on the JD Supra Blog.
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