Are you on LinkedIn?  Is your Profile complete? Do you update it regularly?  LinkedIn, an important tool for any attorney or law student, is the world’s largest professional social network with over 175 million members.  Brad and Debra Schepp authors of the book, “How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other Social Networks” state,  “LinkedIn has become a must-have tool for ambitious professionals, whether they’re currently looking for a job or not.  In just a few years it’s grown into the largest and strongest business network in the world.” That’s great, but how exactly can you utilize LinkedIn?
Make the Connections:  Just like in face-to-face networking, you should develop the contacts before you need them.  Since networking is all about building relationships, now is the perfect time to begin making those connections.  LinkedIn is a great way to follow through with someone after you’ve met them in person at a social event. When inviting a new contact to connect with you on LinkedIn, don’t use the canned “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  Instead create your own targeted invitation, for example “I enjoyed meeting you at the Boone County Bar Association luncheon today and would like to stay connected with you on LinkedIn.” Letting them know who you are and how you met helps refresh their memory.
Complete your Profile:  View your profile as an interactive business card, a personal snapshot of who you are as a professional.  Leaving it bare-bones won’t create the impression you want.  Display a professional photo, craft an informative profile heading, highlight your education, and develop a professional summary statement.  In the “Experience”  section add your summer legal positions, internships, externships, pro bono work, etc.  Be specific about what you did in those positions. Fill your “Specialties” section with  keywords that will allow others to learn more about you and your interests.  LinkedIn is not Facebook:  Use your real name, and make sure your photo is all business.
Join Groups: There are SO many groups out there, it can be hard to know where to start.  Connecting with alumni through the the Mizzou Law Professional Network Group is a great first step!  Join your undergrad alumni group.  Search for groups that match your interests.  Be sure to read the postings and comment when appropriate.  Sharing valuable content and interacting with professionals assists you in making and developing connections.
Stay Current:  Update your profile regularly.  Share an update, attach a link to an interesting article. Answer your messages and requests promptly. Be sure to customize your LinkedIn URL, so it is short and sweet and includes just your name.  Include your LinkedIn URL on your business cards and the signature line in your email.  That will encourage others to request a connection with you on LinkedIn!