Most professionals have developed a LinkedIn account at some point in their career. But just having a profile doesn’t let LinkedIn work for you the way it could. How you use it can make the difference between a waste of time and a lucrative business opportunity.

This week’s blog continues a review of the book, Reinventing Professional Services; Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, by Ari Kaplan. In Chapter 11, Kaplan explains how a variety of business professionals have used LinkedIn to develop their business.

Using LinkedIn Advance Search to Find Connections

Kaplan says he uses his LinkedIn account to find the right connection at a business or organization he hopes to work with. It’s not enough to identify the business. If you are able to find a name and an email address through your 2nd and 3rd degree contacts, you are more likely to get a favorable response. Kaplan says:

“My secret was not in the follow-up call, though that is essential, or even in my pitch. The essential component of creating this opportunity was identifying the correct name of the producer of the show. Thanks to LinkedIn and a simple query for ‘producer’ and the name of the station, I was able to focus my efforts.”

Using your search, you can create a list of specific people and organizations that you want to work with. You may not get a response from every lead, and many may not be ready to pull the trigger on the first contact, but it can lay the groundwork for lucrative business later on.

LinkedIn as a Social Media Distribution Channel

Kaplan continues:

“As business continues to rapidly evolve, social media tools provide yet another distribution channel. ‘The way that we are getting and sharing information is changing radically,’ [Mike Dwyer, Senior Consultant for New Media and Creative Strategies, Aon Hewitt in Chicago] says. Dwyer encourages organizations and individuals to strengthen those connections by both creating and repurposing a signature type of content that their target audience would find value.”

For many lawyers, that signature content can be an informative blog or newsletter. By posting links to these blogs as updates on your LinkedIn account, or in relevant group discussions, you can develop a following of relevant professionals, all of whom can pass you referrals.

LinkedIn isn’t just an online copy of your resume. By distributing your blog content as updates and using the advanced search feature to find connections, you can make your LinkedIn account work for you and build your business.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist. She writes custom blogs and web content for attorneys and small businesses. If you want to make more use of your social media accounts, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.