To be an effective networker, you need to find good contacts and then develop relationships with those contacts. Many lawyers have extensive contacts lists, but they don’t manage their contacts or use their lists to their full advantage.
One tool to help you find and manage your contacts and build relationships is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business networking site that has made a number of major changes in the past year or so, including changes to LinkedIn Groups, the introduction of Showcase Pages as sub-pages for LinkedIn Company Pages, and changes to LinkedIn Profiles. But Contacts are where the real work of networking comes into play, and LinkedIn has some new Contacts features as well. Here are some tips on how you can use your address book and LinkedIn Contacts to help grow your business relationships.
Although your address book contains some information about your contacts, chances are that your contacts’ LinkedIn Profiles contain a lot more information – and it is updated directly by your contacts.
You can still use the import your contacts feature to get your address book contacts into LinkedIn, but if you do, keep in mind that you will need to repeat the importation process periodically to ensure that the most updated information and newest contacts are transferred from your address book to your LinkedIn account. In some cases, you can now forego importing entirely in favor of syncing your address book Contacts with LinkedIn so when something changes, it is automatically updated.
LinkedIn supports syncing of contact information from several services, including Outlook Exchange Server (email, calendar and contacts), Google Gmail, Calendar and Contacts, Yahoo! and more. When you link those accounts with LinkedIn, LinkedIn automatically finds and adds the new contact details to any pre-existing names in your contact list, and will show you the source of the information as an icon next to your contact’s name so you can see what information comes from your Google contacts for example, and what information comes directly from LinkedIn.
To sync contacts through LinkedIn, go to the Network tab on the LinkedIn navigation bar and select Contacts. Click on the Settings icon (it looks like a gear) to get to your Contacts Settings and click Sync next to the source (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) you want to sync with your LinkedIn account.