Utilising LinkedIn as a 'pandemic' trainee (and beyond)

'Pandemic trainees' – a term affectionately given to those in my position. Those starting their training contract in a lockdown; masters of virtual connection and now just beginning to experience in-person interactions. To aid our virtual expertise, Michelmores enrolled its trainees in training courses delivered by Alastair Banks, Co-Founder of Optix Solutions, to develop our approach to our professional networks.

In particular, LinkedIn has been highlighted to us as an important tool not just to utilise, but to utilise correctly. Below I set out some key points for trainees, and anyone else looking to grow their LinkedIn networks.

Why is LinkedIn important? 

Understanding 'why' should be a precursor to knowing 'how'. Without acknowledging and understanding why you are doing something, you are less likely to create a good habit by actually doing it. For legal job applicants, trainees, solicitors, and all others involved in the legal sphere LinkedIn is a valuable tool. When used correctly, it can expand your client and professional networks and may lead to job interviews and client introductions. Given that we are now in the digital era, virtual connections are real opportunities and LinkedIn tangibly maps out your potential networks, doing the hard groundwork for you.

              1. How LinkedIn works 

This may seem like a meaningless point – surely everyone knows how to use LinkedIn by this stage? That’s what I thought, giving myself a comfortable 6/10 when asked if I knew what I was doing. A review of my 'social selling index' 5 minutes later returned a poor score of 21/100 – clearly I did not understand how LinkedIn truly works, or, if I did, I was not putting my knowledge into practice. And this is key – practice makes perfect. Take an hour or two to familiarise yourself with the site, and not just the 'post' and 'connect' buttons. Write an article, share interesting content, and don't be afraid to be yourself.

             2. Build connections (but not just by clicking connect!)

The more connections you have, the more meaningful opportunities will present themselves, right? Not necessarily; a scattergun approach may yield some results but utilising a strategic approach when connecting with others will likely yield better results. By all means, connect with many people, but do something like exploring your Alumni networks – you will already have a mutual interest, and this will be a great starting point for conversations. Also build connections by engaging with the posts of others who explore topics and conversations that you resonate with – like, share or comment with your thoughts on the matter. The connections you make won't then just be sitting in your 'Connections' bank, they will know your name and want to engage with you in return.

The points discussed above provide just a snapshot of the importance of LinkedIn when building a professional network, but they are a great starting point. For a better understanding, enrolling in training courses will provide a deeper look into the potential of the platform, and of the wider concepts that should inform your approach to your professional network.