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Social networking is here to stay. Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn.

As we mentioned here, LinkedIn has become the default social networking platform for professionals; but many lawyers fail to take advantage of the site and its potential to help build their practices. Before we dive in to the LinkedIn pool, let’s back up for just a moment to examine social networking on a broader scale.

Whatever your personal thoughts on social media, there’s no denying it’s here to stay. While we do not hail social media as a tool that, in and of itself, will win business, we do categorize it as one of many tools that can (and should) be used to support your business development efforts. Maybe you are a social media junkie or maybe you don’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, I can assure you there is tangible professional value in social networking.

One of the most fundamental concepts in social networking is the understanding that your social activities are a representation of you – your practice, your priorities, your interests, your allies and friends. They can ultimately speak volumes about your work and character, and could impact a client’s decision to engage you for legal counsel. Social activities, from sharing and liking to posting and commenting, should be intentional, meditated and remorse-free.

So maybe Twitter and Facebook aren’t your thing. That’s fine. But we highly recommend, at the very least, that you maintain a presence on LinkedIn. Your competitors are on it, as are your clients and prospective clients. If a client searches for you on LinkedIn and you don’t even appear, these days, it almost seems suspicious! Further, LinkedIn activity allows you to remain visible and front of mind. Take 10 minutes daily or even just a few times per week to peruse your LinkedIn news feed, share content that you or colleagues have authored, like items, and search for contacts with whom you can connect. Check out John Tuerck’s specific LinkedIn for lawyers guidelines here.

What have you got to lose? It’s free, informative, and can actually be somewhat fun! Just take our advice: don’t engage in any activity that you wouldn’t want to appear on the front page of your local paper, because once it’s out there, it’s public and can never be taken back!