You’re at a conference, workshop, or some other networking event for lawyers. There you are, minding your own drink and checking out the room for interesting people to talk to.
Then someone you don’t know approaches you. Let’s call him Bob.
Bob, smiles at you but says nothing. Then without preamble, he takes out his wallet and hands you his business card.
So you’re perplexed.
Who is he and why does he want to give me his card?
As if that’s not weird enough, he gestures for you to hand him your business card as well.
After that weird exchange, he finally talks.
“I’d like to invite you to my professional network,” Bob says.
Based on this weird ordeal, what’s the chance you’ll ever want to talk to Bob again?
Minuscule, maybe about 0.01%?
I’m guessing you don’t even want to be on his ‘professional network.’
Ironically, this is how majority of people (including many Lawyers) act on LinkedIn.
Using LinkedIn Correctly
LinkedIn has successfully connected thousands of businesses to service providers, lawyers to corporate clients, job seekers to employers and recruiters, but none of this happened by chance.
For lawyers working solo or in a firm, the importance of a complete profile AND participating in LinkedIn is obvious. Not having one makes you look ‘ancient’ or at least not up to date by potential clients. Unfortunately an active LinkedIn profile takes work, plus you need to understand the platform’s social dynamics and features before you can use it effectively.
Otherwise you run the risk of humiliating yourself and the firm you represent. We all know what could happen when people screw up online.
Remember the recent LinkedIn scandal regarding Carter-Silik’s inappropriate comment to Proudman?
To save you from potential disasters and help you use this platform to your advantage, I’ve compiled this 3-part guide to LinkedIn.
The Harvey Specter School of LinkedIn Strategies
This part of the guide contains basic but still important LinkedIn practices many people forget.
The Summary isn’t a Placeholder for Your Bio
LinkedIn’s summary section is akin to the top part of a job seeker’s resume. It’s the first thing people see after reading your name so it should be packed with important information that will help people decide whether they want to connect with you or not.
Here’s what you can include:
- Facts and statistics – Number of cases won, awards received, or money you helped clients save.
- Interesting information that will entice others to learn more about you. It can be anything from an interesting question, an amazing personal achievement (like climbing Mt. Everest), or your mission statement.
- Summary of career highlights
- Identify the type of clients you work with, or the specific segment of law you specialize in. For example:
“I’m a Brooklyn based labor and employment lawyer specializing in misclassification of independent contractors.”
That’s one short sentence but it perfectly summarizes your target audience (independent contractors), your legal specialization (labor law) and the kind of cases you accept (employment misclassification). With this phrase, it will be easy for prospect clients to find you on LinkedIn.
Whatever you do, don’t put your attorney bio there. It’s supposed to be a summary, not the story of your life!
Say No to Boring Headlines
LinkedIn automatically uses the job title and current employer or business listed in your profile. But headlines like that are so bland, so remember to edit it.
Use your headline like a big company would use a tagline — a memorable but catchy phrase that defines their brand, expertise, and at the same time differentiates them from competitor attorneys or firms.
For inspiration, check out these taglines from other law firms:
- Bailey & Galyen’s Solving Your Legal Puzzle
- SmithAmundsen’s Top flight counsel. Bottom line results.
- Laner Muchin The Workplace Intelligence Firm
Beware of Recommendations
Recommendations are a mark of credibility and outstanding service in many industries. Unfortunately, it’s a double edged sword in the legal industry. While the credibility-boosting effect is still there, some State and bar associations discourage attorneys from accepting recommendations or anything that can be construed as an endorsement.
So before giving or accepting a LinkedIn recommendation, check with your State bar association first.
List “Skills and Expertise” in Your Profile
LinkedIn has a section where you can list your skills and expertise and others can vote or ‘endorse’ you. The same caveat for recommendations may apply here. So if that’s the case for you, just list your skills but don’t accept the ‘endorsements’ that come your way. Don’t endorse others either.
Be specific with the skills you list. Instead of “Real Estate Law,” specify it by adding the industry you work in or the subset of your practice. The example above could be turned into “Commercial Real Estate Law,” or “International Real Estate Law.”
Specifying your area of practice helps other people find you on LinkedIn using that keyword. It also builds your authority on that subject if people vote on that endorsement. If you don’t know what to list, use LinkedIn’s skill suggestion tool.
Change your privacy settings to public, once your profile is complete. Doing this makes your profile searchable via LinkedIn’s platform, Google, and other search engines.
For the love of god, don’t post the same thing in multiple groups one after another!
I asked several of my connections on LinkedIn about annoying behaviors of people in LinkedIn groups. The answer was unanimous: posting the same update in different groups simultaneously.
So if you have a new blog post, feel free to promote it in different but still relevant LinkedIn groups. Just don’t post it in two or more groups at the same time.
If you can’t help it, at least personalize the status update to each group. Even if you’re promoting the same article, you can write a different introduction based on how the article is helpful to the group’s members.
A better technique is just to space out your posting into several days or weeks. Aside from not annoying fellow group members, your status updates will be seen by more people.
Be a Good Host in Conversations You Started
The next annoying thing people complained about is a bad host. You know, people who start threads but don’t respond to comments. Perhaps these people are thought of as very self-centered by other group members, like the way someone keeps talking about himself without paying attention to others.
LinkedIn is an online platform but the manners required in a professional conversation are just the same. Be a good host. Show people you’re also interested in what they have to say. If you don’t know how to respond to a comment, at least like the person posting it or say “thank you for commenting.”
Part two will come next week, where I share specific networking and marketing strategies you can use on LinkedIn. Stay tuned!