Are you LinkedIn?

It seems that “serious” social networking – LinkedIn in particular – is now being seriously embraced by the legal profession. Whereas Facebook is probably correctly seen primarily as a place to socialise rather than do business and is full of clutter, LinkedIn is a focussed and uncluttered service for the professional/business person – a place to “list” yourself and to find others who may be useful to you in your work.

Picking up on research done by Kevin O’Keefe in April, who then found that 118,000 describing themselves as in the “law practice industry” had profiles on LinkedIn, Steve Matthews reported on 13 June that this had “spiked to an incredible 216,000”.

You can’t really fault the admittedly simple methodology – a Google search for “law practice industry” does indeed appear to return only one hit per LinkedIn profile for those classifying themselves as in the “law practice industry”. Google result sets for the same search do though differ wildly from day to day; a few days ago, this search returned 161K, yesterday 202K. But, even given that variation, the results show a huge increase over 2 months. That 200K may be a small percentage of the total number in the law practice industry globally, but – given the growth rate – it is nevertheless very significant. [Update: As at 17/07/2008 the figure is 290K.]

In my last post I suggested that Robert Ambroggi was wrong to describe social networking sites as “just glorified directories” and suggested they were “glorified Rolodexes” maybe. On reflection I think I was wrong – certainly in the case of LinkedIn: I only have a problem with Robert’s “just”. LinkedIn is an increasingly useful directory – a place where you can find a good number of business people who provide services in which you may be interested (via keywords) and/or who are involved in a particular industry and/or who are based in or near a particular country or more precise location. And results can be listed by, inter alia, keyword relevance or “degrees” away from you. Put your profile on LinkedIn and you will be found in this way. LinkedIn also acts as a super Rolodex or contacts manager, enabling you to keep track of not just your contacts, but also your contacts’ contacts. This latter, networking, function is the label that attaches to such services and with all the hype surrounding social networking, one can forgive the majority for not yet jumping on the bandwagon. But, as a lawyer, view it first as an effective, free directory in which to promote your services; then use it as a directory yourself to find others. Once you’ve done that, it becomes clear that the more you develop your network and establish the connections between you and those you know, the more useful it becomes both for you and those who might be seeking you.

It’s not hard to see that, with a bit more development, LinkedIn may well blow the “traditional” lawyer directories away.

One thought on “Are you LinkedIn?”

  1. I totally agree with Nick Holmes on the suggestion that “social networking” era is hitting upon us a way of life in this digital age. More importantly allowing professionals to expand presence in an online world and staying relevant in the market place is crucial. I work for Cisco who is a visionary and innovator in the IT&Telecoms space enabling such innovations on the Internet – as such I feel obliged to relate to you that social networking is part of a larger scheme of things, something known as “Web 2.0”. It is imperative to understand how the Web has evolved into the 21st century and today there are millions and millions of web sites offering more information that we as can ever grasp in several lifetimes. So the way information is shared and eventually consumed is also changing. While there exists “glorified directories” for lawyers, there now exists a way for lawyers and everyone else to stay connected and be more targeted globally to finding information in a more effective and concise manner. Think of LinkedIn as such as tool. Remember, the Internet is already growing fast in the “Exabyte era” and a recent Cisco study suggests that Service Providers who build out Infrastructure for the Internet should be prepared to brace the impending “Zettabyte era”! To put it simply, how would you be able to find that little Nemo fish that you’re looking for in that gigantic ocean? Welcome to the Connected Life and the Human Network that’s changing the way we work, live and play!…

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