I spoke today for the Pasadena Bar Association Technology Section.

Before the program began, I took the time to speak to several people to get a better idea of who was in the room and their level of social media usage.

It was a diverse crowd. We had an attorney in the room who was still using an AOL account for their professional email, to someone who had literally launched a blog that morning, and lots of other users in between.

With such a broad spectrum of users, I tried to stick to the “Why” and not the “How” of social media.

While I did not have a PowerPoint going, I did put my outline into PowerPoint format, and you can download a copy of the slides here.

After the program I spoke to a few attendees and the one question I got from a couple people was, “Where do I start?”

I’d have to say LinkedIn. I think that you’ll get the greatest rewards the quickest here.

Take the time to build out your profile, paying attention to your “Professional Headline.” This can be found next to your name on the “edit profile” tab.

Don’t make the mistake of putting your occupation in this section (“Lawyer” or “Partner”), but use the space to create your mini elevator speech. You do WHAT for WHOM and WHERE.

Here’s mine: “Marketing, Social Media and Social Networking Director for lawyers and law firms, based in Los Angeles, CA.”

This says much more than my title, “Director of Marketing.”

Once you are done with your profile it’s time to sync your contacts (from your smart phone, Outlook Contacts, etc). LinkedIn will let you know who is currently using the application, and you can make those connections immediately. Just hover over the “Contacts” tab at the top, and click on “Add Connections.” LinkedIn will walk you through the next steps.

Once you have added your current contacts, continue to search out and add new connections, such as the speaker of your recent bar association luncheon, search your alumni associations from college, law school and your fraternity or sorority. Grab that stack of business cards and start searching and connecting. And what about those clients and colleagues from long ago. Do a search to see if they are in LinkedIn. If so, feel free to connect.

Personally, I always take the time to send a personal note in my invitation to connect rather than the standard message from LinkedIn (“I’d like to add you to my connections”). Remind the person where you met, or why you are connecting “(I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and would like to add you to my LinkedIn connections.”).

After you’re done, skip over to the groups section and search out your professional and personal interests, including community and charitable organizations. Your professional association might have a group page, and many conferences set them up as well.

Join those groups. Scroll through the other members. You might find common connections, or interesting people with whom you might want to connect. Once again, add a personal note as to why you are extending the invitation to connect.

To add interest to your profile, share an article you wrote, or you can add your blog and or Twitter feeds to your profile.

To engage with someone on LinkedIn, comment on an article they have written or one of their recent posts. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a conversation can begin.

Don’t get lost in the application, but revisit it while enjoying your morning coffee, or while eating your lunch. You don’t have to do it all today, just take the first few steps.