"I'm a creature of routine," a successful law firm partner told me. "If I only had a list of things to do on LinkedIn, I know I could get those tasks completed on a daily basis. I just don't know what to do."
OK. Here is that list of daily tasks:
• Listen. Log in to the LinkedIn.com home-page and check out what people in your network are posting, who has moved jobs and who has written a blog post or LinkedIn publication.
• Give to receive. Congratulate contacts who have won promotions. Pass along what your contacts have shared with you (presuming it is relevant and of value to your people in your network) and comment on interesting articles your contacts have shared.
Remember: LinkedIn is a community, and every community includes people who give and those who only take. People notice your type.
• Make it personal. Send quick thank-you messages to people who have connected with you recently. Reach out to new people you would like to connect to using customized messages. You can get ideas about whom to follow on the top right-hand corner of the homepage, where it says, "People You May Know." Don't just hit the connect button — it won't let you send a customized message. Rather, click on the person's name, then hit "connect" on his or her full profile; LinkedIn will allow you to send a personalized greeting.
• Share. On the top of the homepage on LinkedIn there is a little box that says, "Share an update." All you need to do is copy the link to an article and hit "Share."
When sharing articles to LinkedIn, what's great is the enemy of what's good — in other words, be liberal about what you share. If you only share great articles, you won't end up sharing much at all.
What types of material should you share? Articles that are helpful to your practice; articles written by other attorneys in your firm; general business or economics articles that you love or that made you think. If you love it, most likely your contacts will, too.
And by all means, don't confuse sharing with over-sharing. Although people who share perhaps once a week or month will likely go unnoticed, those who share multiple times a day are annoying. Don't make either mistake. Share once a day, or at least make an effort to.
• Make an appointment. The purpose of all online tools for professionals should be to facilitate richer offline interactions. Set up a lunch or telephone call and get out of the office. LinkedIn isn't meant to replace real-life meetings, but to rather to augment them.
Hope springs eternal in the new year, so if you feel inspired to finally start bringing in business through your online efforts, set aside 10 minutes per day, print out this list and get cranking. Make it a great year.