Tell me if you’ve heard this (true) story before… A Partner calls up the Marketing team and says that he is going to be attending a conference this weekend and wants to get some background information on a small group of General Counsels (GC’s) that will be attending. Immediately, Marketing calls the library and asks to have a basic competitive intelligence report drafted up on those ten GC’s — using one of those magical database that we must have.

In the not-so-distant past, we would have gone to the basics of looking up the person’s profile on “magical databases/print resources” like  Martindale-Hubbell or Chambers, and then researched their company websites for profiles, and then conducted a news/information search (sometimes referred to as “I Googled Them”.) However, one of the best resources that we have at our disposal today is the information that the GC’s put out themselves on LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn research works really well if the person you’re looking for is “within your network” (no further than 3 connections away.) If the person is more than 3 connections away, then you usually don’t get to see the full profile, or take advantage of some of the searching features that are available for those within your network. So, the key is to work your connections in such a way that expands your network to include as many GC’s as possible. The best way to do this? Get your firm’s Partners connect with you on LinkedIn. Make it clear to each and every partner that doing so is in their best interest and makes it easier for you to track down information on the potential clients.

Also, don’t forget to connect with your Marketing team. If they rely upon you for competitive intelligence research and analysis, then they too would benefit by connecting with you on LinkedIn and sharing their network with you. Hopefully, your Marketing team is already connected with all the firm’s Partners (if not, then suggest that they start doing so!) Adding a few more connections expands your CI capabilities exponentially, and that can make you the hero when it comes to getting relevant information back to the Partner so he can better prepare to talk with the GC and bring in some more business to the firm.

Back to the story I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Out of the ten GC’s, nine of them had LinkedIn profiles. Out of those nine, eight of them were in my network. The end result was that I was able to pull relevant information on these GC’s and get it into the hands of a partner in just a few minutes. Now I have to go out and start tracking down those other Partners at the firm so that I don’t miss out on that ninth GC the next time around.