Using LinkedIn effectively can help you become a better lawyer and enhance your professional reputation. We will briefly explore why this social network is particularly important and how to use it to your advantage in the field of law.
Since this post is for the legal community, let me make the requisite disclaimer and advise that you check on your state regulations about displaying Recommendations, Skills and Endorsements on your social media profiles. This is an area where the law is trying to catch up with changes in technology so there are many gray areas.
As the world’s largest online professional network with over 313 million members at this writing, LinkedIn is often the first resource that potential clients, partners and employers will turn to when considering a business relationship with any professional. Today you will lose credibility in the eyes of most people if they cannot find you on LinkedIn. By contrast, whether others can find you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google Plus makes little difference in their view of you as a professional.
Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn Profile will often be the first impression that people will have of you in a business context. It is essential that your Profile presents you in the best light and accurately conveys your value to viewers.
This requires that you have a good professional photo, a headline with a key phrase indicating the type of law you practice, a complete Summary with relevant keywords and Experience sections highlighting your accomplishments.
In addition, you should complete the sections for education and continuing education courses, organizations you are a member of, volunteer work and any publications you have produced.
Your Personal Brand
In this age of frequent job and career changes, building your personal brand is of paramount importance. Your personal brand is a topic beyond the scope of this post, but it encompasses your reputation and how you are positioned in terms of the value you provide to your clients and others you interact with. It also involves making sure you are easily recognizable when current and potential clients try to find you.
LinkedIn is the ideal platform for showcasing your personal brand as it enables you to describe what you offer to the world’s largest online community of professionals. In the Summary, Experience and Education sections you can display video, presentations and links to further enhance your Profile.
A major distinction between LinkedIn and other social media platforms is its professional focus. Members come there with a business mindset. Therefore the time you invest in building your digital presence on LinkedIn will help to create an asset that will serve you throughout your career.
In addition, LinkedIn provides a medium for companies to highlight their offerings through the use of Company Pages. The current format consists of a Home section where the company can describe its services and post content, and a Careers tab to attract new talent and post jobs.
A relatively new feature of Company Pages are Showcase Pages which can be used to spotlight selected products, services or events. Both Company Pages and Showcase Pages allow visitors to follow them such that they receive any updates posted by these Pages.
Most people view LinkedIn as an online resume. While this is one aspect of having a LinkedIn presence, an even more powerful application is that it gives you the ability to find resources that can help you become a more successful attorney.
Examples of this might be seeking opinions from other legal professionals regarding an interpretation of a legal issue, looking for attorneys or other professionals in complementary fields to partner with or using LinkedIn as an information resource when you want to quickly get up to speed on current issues in a new area of the law.
Finally, there are over 25,000 Groups on LinkedIn related to legal topics such as corporate law, international law, intellectual property, inhouse legal, tax law and many more. Groups are an excellent resource for making new professional connections, getting questions answered and raising your visibility with the LinkedIn community by contributing helpful comments.