LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social networking tools available for lawyers, thanks to its unique concentration of professionals prepared for networking. According to the American Bar Association’s 2016 Legal Technology Survey, nearly 80 percent of law firms maintain a LinkedIn presence.
Colleagues and potential clients are turning to LinkedIn as a source of information on lawyers and firms, making LinkedIn a crucial place to curate the most flattering professional profile possible.
Follow the LinkedIn profile tips below to position your firm’s brand in the legal community, increase your visibility and expand your personal reach. Think of it this way: The more you network, the more likely you are to receive referrals. LinkedIn helps you create an environment of thriving professional connections, with minimal financial investment.
1. Use updated, professionally shot photos
Your LinkedIn profile picture and background picture set the tone for how potential clients and professional connections should think of you—it is your first impression online.
Ideally, your profile photo should show yourself in professional attire, with a simple background and a friendly look. Don’t over-process your profile picture with filters; simplicity is ideal. Your background photo can offer a bit more personality, but be mindful that the subject matter still fits with your professional persona, and doesn’t just show off a hobby.
Tip: Social media platforms are always making changes to their sites. Be sure to periodically check to see if their image specifications or profile layouts have changed, like LinkedIn’s recently did.
2. Write a compelling headline
After your photo, your profile’s headline is the second thing that people see when searching your name on LinkedIn. Your current title will automatically be filled in as your headline, but you can do better.
Write a statement that is brief, yet professional, and leaves your audience wanting to know more. The goal of the headline is to entice someone to click on your name, so consider statements that tell someone what’s in it for them.
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For example, intellectual property lawyer Joseph Bahgat has set his headline to “Professional Internet Troll Fighter.” Click through to his profile, and you’ll see he offers “a unique perspective and understanding of entertainment-related legal issues, such as protection of intellectual property, the right of publicity and privacy law, and all things internet.”
3. Only list experience relevant to your current practice
If you’ve changed practice focus, or if you had a varied professional history before you focused on law, be sure to curate your profile. Choose career highlights that lead to your current practice, and make sure everything that appears in your professional history reflects your current experience and goals.
4. Invest time in writing your summary
A properly written summary will showcase you as a confident legal professional. Since you’re creating a high level round-up of yourself as a lawyer, consider highlighting your achievements, values, passions, and what sets you apart as a lawyer.
Keep your summary clear and concise; only the first 200 or so characters of your summary will appear to someone using a desktop or laptop computer to see your profile (to see the rest, they need to click “See more”). Think of this as your elevator pitch—make sure to include pertinent milestones, minimize buzzwords, and be sincere. If you’re not confident in writing your summary on your own, you can choose to pay a writer with biography experience to draft one for you.
5. Write concise, yet meaningful descriptions of your professional experience
It’s important that your descriptions are readable, so avoid writing large paragraphs. Summarise your positions and responsibilities, and, most importantly, quantify results from your time in each position.
For those who have had similar positions, avoid copying and pasting descriptions; it’s important to show as much professional growth as possible. Include links to firm pages, especially for your current firm, which you should ensure is up-to-date with details of how to contact for service inquiries.
6. Be careful about labeling yourself a specialist
In many jurisdictions you’re not permitted by law to label yourself as a specialist. Certain states have very specific protocols for becoming a specialist within an area of law, and the advertising rules surrounding specialization extend to social media accounts.
A great feature of LinkedIn is that your connections can write recommendations for you that you can then approve to put publicly on your profile. However, you need to monitor their language when they do this. Lawyers are responsible for meeting advertising requirements in their jurisdiction, so you cannot allow other LinkedIn users to label you as a specialist, no matter how tempting it may be. Keep an eye on the language of your profile recommendations, as well as skills and endorsements.
7. Import professional contacts from your email
This is a fast and easy way to find connections you have already made. Once you give permission, LinkedIn will search your email account for addresses associated with accounts on LinkedIn, and you have the option of importing each contact at that time. Be sure to avoid adding client contacts, to ensure professionalism.
8. Join relevant groups and Bar Associations
LinkedIn groups can be great networking opportunities. They can also provide sources for peer knowledge, and can keep you up to date on legal trends. Since groups are specialized communities, try to give as much as you take; you’ll get more from interacting with your fellow group members, no matter what the topic of discussion.
Tip: Join the LinkedIn Official Clio Users Community.
9. Publish your blog posts and other published articles to your profile.
When you publish articles or blog posts to your LinkedIn profile, you take advantage of a multitude benefits. Since articles appear on your profile, they add dimension to your account, shine another spotlight on your expertise and show professional focus.
Posts published on LinkedIn can easily be shared by your connections. This can help you attract the attention of potential clients, or professional opportunities like speaking engagements.
10. Install the LinkedIn app on your phone.
It’s all about mobility. With the LinkedIn app, you can respond to InMail (LinkedIn’s version of email) and reply to comments in a timely manner, all while being on the go. You never know what kind of connection will come from a LinkedIn conversation, so take the app with you, and don’t be afraid to ask for a connection.
Bonus tip: Set up a LinkedIn company page for your firm. If you have time to keep up with a company page in addition to your personal profile, you should create one. A LinkedIn company page is especially helpful if you want to showcase multiple members of your firm, and build a brand around your practice.
Want to learn more about LinkedIn for lawyers and get more legal marketing tips? Download Clio’s Guide to Marketing Your Firm Online.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article linked to the 2015 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey. The link has been updated to the 2016 version.
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