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A group of lawyers was recently talking about LinkedIn and the Facebook-like invitations for new "friends" they receive. Many attorneys said they ignored the invitations because they didn't know who they were.
LinkedIn, after all, is a professional networking site. Most attorneys who have a profile on LinkedIn are likely there to expand their network of professionals and potential clients. And since the site just announced they now have 100 million registered users in more than 200 countries, there are a lot of good reasons to be accepting those LinkedIn invitations.
Put it another way: Treating LinkedIn like Facebook could cause you to leave money and opportunity on the table.
LinkedIn allows registered users to maintain a list of people they know and trust in business, called " first degree connections." Since, in most cases, you are able to see the "connections" of your connections (called "second degree" contacts), the site provides an opportunity to expand your network of professional contacts by requesting introductions to other users, inviting other users to become "first degree" connections, or contacting other users via LinkedIn's email system (called InMail).
So any lawyer who is on LinkedIn to grow a professional network should not be blindly ignoring or declining invitations. After all, if you were at a live event, and someone walked up with a handshake and business card, would you reject that overture?
Remember LinkedIn is a way to expand your network beyond your existing circle of friends and colleagues. So when you receive a LinkedIn invitation, view it as an opportunity and evaluate it with that in mind. There's no telling what might come out of that new online relationship.