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Known as the “professional network,” LinkedIn is an online marketing resource that provides attorneys with tools specifically designed to connect them with contacts in ways they otherwise could not. The LinkedIn Mission Statement reads “Our mission is simple: To connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.” And while LinkedIn has a premium version that requires a fee, the free version of LinkedIn offers many features and benefits for attorneys.

The first step to getting started on LinkedIn is to create your own personal profile starting with a photo. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and your photo should convey that. Use a professional, color photo.

Add your headline. Your picture, name and professional headline are what most people see and your headline should be more than just your name and title. Describe what you do and who you serve.

The next step is the Personal Summary. This space is where LinkedIn searches for keywords in response to a query so your summary should incorporate information about you with keywords you think your target audience is looking for. Describe your areas of practice here as well as your current position, abilities and achievements.

The “Add a section to your profile” feature suggests any categories that could improve your profile (i.e., work experience, education, skills, certifications, organizations, associations, publications, speaking engagements, volunteering experiences, courses, patents, and more). Take the time to complete your profile highlighting your accomplishments, achievements and information on major projects and cases you have worked on.

Now that your profile is complete, the next step is to get connected and build your network.

Add Contacts. The Contacts feature allows LinkedIn users to sync their Google, Yahoo and Outlook contacts and calendars and iPhone address books with their LinkedIn account.

Join Groups. There are groups on LinkedIn for just about every industry. Choose groups where you can add value while still connecting with people who may be potential clients.

Search. Search is a key component to getting the most out of LinkedIn and you can search for items other than just people. Target specific companies and you can see all of the employees with LinkedIn profiles that work there.

Participate. Posting directly on LinkedIn is the most powerful tool. You can start by sharing high quality content with all of LinkedIn, or only your connections or a particular group to generate interest or start up a conversation. If you do not contribute, you are reducing the likelihood of being seen.

If you have your own firm, you should also create a company page which will also help you to be found in LinkedIn company page search engines.

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