Networking on the Net- Time Waster or Rainmaking Tool? by Lisa Goldstein
Social networks aren't about constantly contacting everyone in your friend circle; they're about knowing that you can. -Clay Shirky, NYU Professor
When Facebook co-sponsored the New Hampshire democratic debates, I received several panicked calls from lawyers asking about social networking sites. “Do I need a profile? How do they work? Will I get business? Which ones should I be on?”
About a year ago, I had a very sparse profile on Linkedin, and I had never even visited Facebook or Myspace. I was very skeptical about using social networking as a business development tool. Having worked for an Internet start-up, however, and experiencing the evolution of the Internet as a business tool firsthand, I knew that I had to explore the technology.
As any diligent marketer would do, prior to getting immersed in social networking, I researched the audience. An initial search for “General Counsel” on Linkedin revealed over 500 in my network. At the time, I couldn’t find any General Counsel on Facebook. I visited MySpace, but after I was bombarded with soft pornography, I quickly left without creating a profile. I decided to focus my efforts on Linkedin.
In preparation for this article, I found that my initial instincts were correct. Independent research by Comscore indicated that Linkedin has over 8 million mostly professional users. Although MySpace has 114 million global visitors, and Facebook has 59 million active users, their users are younger than Linkedin users, and generally not professional. I even explored Second Life, a virtual fantasy world with 11 million residents, including law firms. Although Second life seems fascinating, I never actually created my fantasy life. My computer did not meet the minimum requirements to download the game playing software.
After spending hours navigating the Linkedin website, and joining the Yahoogroups Linkedin Power Users Forum, I am a true believer that social networks are a powerful networking tool. Social networks provide detailed information regarding an individual’s career history and personal network. Like traditional networking, a passive approach will not be effective. However, to remain a strong Rainmaker, an active social networking strategy must be combined with traditional networking.
Here are some quick Dos and Don’ts to guide you through the networking process:
Do Create a robust profile including an engaging list of accomplishments targeted towards your prospective clients.
Do Develop and implement a personal networking strategy regarding your social network.
Do Utilize your network as a research tool to build warm relationships with prospects that would otherwise have been cold.
Do Follow Ethics Rules when posting your profile.
Do Proactively participate in discussions and polling.
Do Receive and reward recommendations.
Don’t Share personal information that you would not want disclosed to the entire world.
Don’t Bombard superficial contacts with requests to join your network.
Don’t Dump your entire address book onto the database.
Good luck staying Linkedin, and with all of your rainmaking endeavors! Feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin with any questions regarding your rainmaking. I am following my own networking advice, and due to personal time constraints, I will be taking a hiatus from the YLD Making Rain column. I hope that I have enabled you to enhance your rainmaking strategies.