Seven Tips for Lawyers: Making the Most of LinkedIn

If you search the Internet, you will find a lot has been written about LinkedIn, clearly the most widely used on-line professional networking site. Potential clients and business colleagues may visit your profile before an important meeting, search firms constantly use this tool to identify new candidates for positions, and your former and current colleagues who are sources of referrals of all kinds will benefit from knowing what your current work entails and more about your skills.

The following are a few tips to get you started, or to help you enhance your LinkedIn profile.

  1. Branding Yourself – The Photo
    1. Choosing a professional photo is important. First impressions matter. It might be worth it to have a professional head shot taken, so you will present at your best. At a minimum, have a friend take a photo for you (a nice background, like an outside shot, is often more appealing).
  2. Profile Heading
    1. Most attorneys use their job titles as a headline. Associate, General Counsel, Partner, Senior Counsel, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. To maximize your profile, be sure to include your practice area in your headline, or a key word about your work. “Partner and Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice,” for example. Or, “The Law Offices of Mary Flood, Employment Attorney.”
    2. The heading is meant to be short – so you won’t have a lot of space, but try to capture the most important message in the heading.
  3. Summary Statement
    1. Your summary statement is perhaps the most important section of your LinkedIn profile. Take the time to write something that hits on your strongest skills, and the practice experience you want to be known for.
    2. Sub headings are a great idea – they pull the reader’s attention to the topics you consider most important, and break up the text.
    3. Review summaries of others in your field to get ideas. Do you get a clear picture of the person and their practice from their summary?
    4. Think about the purpose of your presence on LinkedIn. If you are in private practice, and you want to brand yourself for clients, describe your practice areas in a concise way, but also use language that describes your work in a particular industry or industries.
    5. If you are looking for a job you will want to include skills and practice descriptions that show how your experience will fit the requirements of the work you are seeking.
  4. Key Words in The Summary
    1. LinkedIn is a search engine, driven by key words. Potential clients, colleagues, and search firms will be able to find you if you include key words that best describe your work.
    2. Go to the “Advanced Search” bar at the top of the LinkedIn home page to search for specific keywords, and you will find people in practices like your own. Type into the “key words” field, for example, “intellectual property” or “transportation” and see what the job descriptions of the people who show up in your search reveals.
  5. Completing Your Profile
    1. Enter at least one good line about the work you did at each job. What skills do you have? Describe what was required at each job without duplicating every detailed entry from your resume.
    2. Highlight the experiences that fit the career path you are planning for your future.
  6. Consider the ABA Rules in Describing Your Work
    1. It would be prudent to review the ABA rules in describing your services – the terms “expert” and “specialist” must be properly used.
    2. See this recent article for more information: American Bar publication.
  7. Going Beyond the Basics – Groups
    1. You can join groups via LinkedIn to connect with others in your field of practice, industry groups, professional organizations, alumni groups and alumni sub groups.
    2. Group members often post jobs, trends in an industry are discussed, and you can connect with people you might not otherwise meet via the Groups function. You can adjust the settings for how often you would like to receive group discussions, and you can also follow groups via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is an evolving, dynamic social media site. Happy Networking!