- Meet new people
- Get ideas about how to work better with your clients
- Make connections with an industry or business person that might lead to new work
- Find experts
- Act as a platform to demonstrate your expertise and inform people about what you do
...and more. But it won't be very effective if you don't have a good network of connections.
One of the best ways to begin building your LinkedIn network is by connecting with people that you already know in real life. But trying to do that one by one is time consuming and you may forget some of the people who might be your best connections.
Instead, consider uploading your address book to LinkedIn - that way you can see who you already have contact with in the 'real world,' which of those contacts are already on LinkedIn, and you can easily send them an invitation to connect with you.
A lot of lawyers are afraid to upload their address book to LinkedIn because they're not sure what LinkedIn will do with that information, and they're not sure which people in their address book they want to connect to on LinkedIn. But don't let that stop you. By using the upload feature, all LinkedIn does is upload the contact information so that you can view it from LinkedIn. You can invite some, none or all of your contacts to connect with you - LinkedIn won't email or invite them without you taking specific action to do so (see my caution below).
LinkedIn also uses this information to suggest relevant connections for you and to help you browse, search, and organize your contacts within LinkedIn.
To upload your contacts, click on the icon that looks like a person with a plus sign in the upper right on the LinkedIn navigation bar (see the image above). You'll be taken to a page that will allow you to choose your email service, enter your email address and upload your contacts.
If you don't see the service you use for your email, click the "Any Email" icon and you'll be given additional options. You can also click on the link that says "Upload Contacts File" and import a .txt, .csv, or .vcf file.
Once you've uploaded your contacts, you'll come to a screen that looks like this:
**VERY IMPORTANT** As you can see, when your contacts are uploaded, the default is that ALL of them are selected. DO NOT leave them all selected and click the Add connections button, or you will invite all of these people to connect with you on LinkedIn, and the invitations will not be personalized (see LinkedIn Tip #1).
Instead, I recommend skipping those steps and going back to the Network tab on the top navigation bar. Click on Contacts and then on the tab for imported contacts. Now you can select those you would like to invite to connect and personalize the inviation you send them. You'll be able to tell who has a Profile on LinkedIn by looking for the blue "in" logo next to their name.