Yes, familiarity with ORM's--especially if they're part of the framework, as LINQ2SQL and the Entity Framework are--will help you, even if you don't use them. While ORM's aren't quite as handy when dealing in a stored-proc-only environment, they're still nice to have and know how to use.
There are many situations were ORMs and/or Linq (which is different from LinqToSql) will make you more productive. Given the kind of things you work on, those technologies are likely a very good fit for you.
There are many potential technologies you could learn and benefit from, so it can be hard to decide which one to invest in first. I think in this case, it's worth digging in as soon as you are able.
As far as database first or class first design, a good ORM will support either approach. Often, an ORM saves you time since you no longer have to create CRUD stored procedures if that is something you normally do.
In many cases, once you are familiar with the technologies, your development times will be noticeably faster.
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