LinkedIn is by far the most popular social network amongst lawyers, so how you can ensure your profile stands out from the crowd and you get the most from your presence on the site?
At Obelisk Support, we encourage our lawyers and non-legal staff to create a great LinkedIn profile that shows who they are and what they do. How you approach LinkedIn will depend on your own personal goals. Whether you want to build your personal brand, stay in closer contact with legal industry peers, or seek out new prospects, the following tips will help you to create a solid and searchable presence as a lawyer on LinkedIn.
#1. Create a Strong Profile
Some people think of their LinkedIn profile as a public version of their CV, but there’s much more to it. To create your profile you should approach your experience in a similar manner, but remember it’s not just a copy and paste job. Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to show a more complete picture of you, beyond your experience.
- Use a current and professional but relaxed photo. Try to avoid over styling or using filters, as you want to present a natural and down to earth image. Some professionals use photos of themselves speaking at events to show they are active and well-regarded in their field – generally though simplicity is best for a first impression, so smile and face the front on a plain and unobtrusive background. You can show a bit more of your personality with the cover image, or use the space to display your business branding. Refer to some of the lawyer profiles on LinkedIn’s Profinder to gain an idea for freelance lawyer profiles.
- Your headline is crucial. This is what will appear under your photo, and while many people leave it as their current title (as auto-filled by the site), it is better to write something to create some more intrigue about your profile. For example, see Business Lawyer Marcy Einhorn, whose profile appears as a top search on Profinder – her headline simply reads ‘Mediation is an Art!’
- List relevant experience only. It can be tempting to put in everything you’ve ever done, but just a like a CV you should focus on what is most relevant to your current direction. If you are currently on or have previously taken a career break state why and what you did as factually and assuredly as you would your other experience – there is no need to get tangled up in euphemisms or start over describing your ‘roles’ and ‘responsibilities’ during this time!
- Remember you can add your own sections to include any voluntary work, side projects, publications, board memberships and more. Here are some tips from a business growth expert on ordering your profile sections.
#2. Build a Solid Network
LinkedIn isn’t like Twitter, where you can follow and be followed by anyone and everyone and cast your audience net widely and indiscriminately. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to craft a more useful, relevant and supportive online network of contacts, many of which you will have in-real-life contact with.
- Start by importing your professional contacts from your email. You can then select which of these you want to connect with on LinkedIn. Remember, don’t add anyone and everyone! Maintain a network of people who you feel will be valuable going forward. Use LinkedIn’s recommendations and check out 2nd-degree contacts (people who are connected to your 1st degree connections).
- Build your online network by checking out the networks of people you have had the strongest and most valuable professional relationships with. If you are adding someone you haven’t had previous contact with, add a short message explaining why you’d like to connect.
- Don’t feel you have to accept every contact request you get. It is your profile and you are in control of who sees your updates.
#3. Share Knowledge and Ideas
This is where LinkedIn really goes beyond an online public CV. Publishing, sharing and following others’ content can greatly expand your knowledge base and raise your own profile.
- Keep an active presence on the site, publish relevant articles and follow thought leaders and organisations to grow your personal brand and keep abreast of the talking points and news in your area. Obelisk Support CEO Dana Denis-Smith, lawyer and Tedx speaker, regularly shares insights on LinkedIn.
- Share relevant posts and articles from your network on a regular basis. Encourage your network to engage with share your own posts by including intro lines such as ‘Those of you in [Family Law] might want to take a look at this’ ‘I would be interested to hear your thoughts, feel free to share with your network!’
- You can publish from your company’s LinkedIn page, and use paid-for sponsored posts to amplify your message. Company pages tend to come top in search rankings on the site, so it serves to have a company presence. LinkedIn provides guidance for sponsoring company posts here.
- Be sure to also join relevant groups and associations (including your local Bar Association), and follow any Live events that may be of interest. Some examples you might like to follow include The Law Society who have a number of interest groups in addition to their main company page, e-Legal a popular network of lawyers from a number of sectors, and Legal Productivity, which focuses on the business of law in a changing industry.
#4. Reach out to your contacts
LinkedIn is a social network, but it’s easy to forget this aspect. Conversations with like-minded individuals, be they online or in person, are always valuable.
- Thank people for connecting and following – it’s nice to be nice, but you also never know where it might lead!
- If you regularly like or comment on someone’s posts, or vice versa, get in touch privately to let them know how valuable you find their information. Interaction on LinkedIn is all about give and take, and it is important to support other’s efforts too.
- LinkedIn has many alerts to make you aware of people’s work anniversaries and new job moves. Instead of just clicking the ‘like’ button, add your own message to show your genuine interest and goodwill. Here’s a little more advice on better LinkedIn etiquette from Fast Company.
LinkedIn is professional, but the most impressive and searchable profiles do well because they also show a well rounded personality. Your profile should be approached as a living and breathing extension of you and where you want to get to in your career – because you never know, it could be the thing that helps you get there.