Linkedin is the most popular business-to-business directory on the web, as well as the most popular social network for professional business development. It has the power to expand your professional network and increase your visibility. Lawyers may use it to build, strengthen, and rekindle business relationships. Social media websites rank highly on search engines, so when someone is searching for you as an attorney, they’ll likely stumble upon your Linkedin page. Making sure you have a professional Linkedin profile that highlights your legal expertise can generate links to your website and your firm. When used effectively, Linkedin can lead to new business for your law practice.
In an article published on the blog infoworks!, marketing consultant Amy Campbell presents ten tips for making Linkedin more effective for attorneys. Her tips are summarized below in order of importance. Tackle each one, using the order to prioritize what should be done first.
1. Complete a Linkedin profile.
Once you have signed up, commit to completing your profile. Even if you only have time to add information in increments, set a time to have your profile complete.
2. Upload a cropped photo of yourself.
Try to avoid the creepy faceless profile picture. Add your photo as soon as possible. This photo will be used as a small thumbnail, so try to crop your photo and eliminate the background. Your face will be more recognizable this way.
3. Edit your “Headline”.
Below your name on your profile page, your Headline gives more information about you. When you first sign up for Linkedin, you are asked for your title or position, and this will appear as your Headline. Linkedin allows you to edit this, and since the Headline can be a powerful tool, you really should do so. Use the Headline to specifically describe the type of law you practice and the type of work you specialize in.
4. Share an “Update”.
The Update area (or Share box) allows you to give brief updates on what you’re working on or what’s new in your law practice. You can also use the feature “Attach a Link to your Update,” where you can share more relevant information.
5. Edit your website links.
You can add up to three links to your Linkedin profile that you deem important. The first link should be to your law firm’s website. For the other two links, consider using your bio page, blog, Twitter page, or Facebook fan page. You can customize the links and their labels by choosing “Other” in the drop-down menu in the mode for “Web Sites” edit.
6. Customize your URL, and make your profile public.
Edit your Linkedin URL to a shortened version without the unnecessary numbers and punctuation, clarifying your name. This simplifies the website address to make it easier to include on business cards and better optimizes your URL for search engines.
Next, make your Linkedin profile public. This will obviously make it easier for people to find you and learn about you. You can do so by clicking on “Settings” in the top right of the page next to “Help.”
7. Write a Summary
Don’t copy and paste your attorney bio from your website! The summary should be brief and should be viewed as an opportunity to “brand” yourself in a specific area of law. Consider writing in first-person, since Linkedin is a social site. It’s also a good idea to be direct and personable.
8. Make connections.
You will need to decide the Linkedin networking strategy you’re comfortable with. Some people want to connect with as many people as possible, and they view anyone and everyone as a potential contact. Others will only connect with contacts they know well, and they will hide their contacts from anyone who is not a direct (first level) connection. It is up to you to determine what is right and comfortable for your profile.
9. Use Recommendations, but do so carefully.
Linkedin requires at least two “Recommendations” to consider your profile complete. However, be careful. Various attorney advertising laws and ethics guidelines do not allow “endorsements.”
10. Become active in Groups.
Start by researching and joining Linkedin Groups. You can include your schools’ alumni groups, former employer alumni groups, and groups in the industry segments you and your clients follow. Spend some time watching how others use the “Groups” feature to pose questions, make announcements, and share news and resources.
Linkedin provides an excellent networking platform for your legal practice, if you use it effectively.