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The warm call: Using social networking connections to break the ice of cold calls and introductions

Successful attorneys build and cultivate their professional networks, in order to acquire mentors, generate referrals and access other resources for their professional development. However, it's not easy to strike up professional relationships with persons you have never met, and know little to nothing about. Bar associations, like the Massachusetts Bar Association, remain an excellent place to meet other attorneys and related professionals; but, how many times have you hovered around the outskirts of conversations, not knowing what to say to get in. Neither does anyone like cold calling, traditionally the marginalized work of telemarketers who seem only to want to interrupt your dinner.

Wouldn't it be easier if you had a better idea about the people you wanted to talk to, if you knew a little bit about what their interests might be? Wouldn't it be great if you could identify mutual friends? Before internet accessibility, gathering this type of information was a daunting prospect; but now, with just a few clicks, you can find what you need to get in . . . LinkedIn, that is.

When you're logged into LinkedIn and access someone's profile, you can find out which connections you share (either at the 'Connections' box, or in the sidebar). If you're going to be calling someone you'd like to build a professional relationship with, how much more powerful is it to run down a list of mutual connections? (Of course, I didn't think of this all by myself. I received a call based on these signals from a financial advisor out of Southborough, Vince Domestico. Seems Vince went to elementary school with a good friend of mine.) If you've got existing connections with whom you'd like to create a stronger, or offline, relationship, you'll have much more material to work with. Review your target's recent status updates, so you'll have some idea of where their current interests lie; parlay that knowledge into a conversation that you know will be relevant to your contact. You may be able to access your first order contact's full connections list, such that you can potentially spin off other professional relationships, from there. If there is someone they know that you'd like to get to know, ask for an introduction. If you want to connect with someone you don't know on LinkedIn, the connection invitation screen will list information you both share, including that related to schooling, work, group memberships, etc. Use that information craft an invitation to connect. Once you've connected online, solidify that connection, by making a phone call, or arranging to meet.

And, it's not just LinkedIn, where you can leverage your online business connections for real-life results. Facebook profiles will show you mutual friends you share with certain users, as well as those users' full friends lists. You'll see status updates, too, if they haven't been blocked. Google+ profiles will show you the users you and your connection have circled in common. You'll also be able to see whom the user has circled, and who has circled the user. While Twitter does not list mutual connections, you will be able to glean useful information from profiles, including that respecting followers and followees, lists and favorite tweets.

For more tips on getting the most out of social media, check out the American Bar Association's, '. . . in One Hour' book series, which features titles covering LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published February 7, 2013

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