Of all the social media platforms available, LinkedIn is by far the most popular among lawyers. When used correctly, LinkedIn is a very effective tool for lawyers to establish a brand and increase market credibility. LinkedIn offers a way to gather social proof and develop business. It creates an opportunity to advance your professional status through the tools that are available such as the profile, recommendations, and groups. Below are a few practical tips you should bear in mind when using LinkedIn.
Be Honest — Your profile on LinkedIn should honestly depict you and your career achievements. Under Model Rule 7.1, lawyers are not permitted to make false or misleading claims about their legal services. Overexaggerating your legal expertise may fall within the purview of what is considered unethical. To this end, it is important to note the recent debate about whether endorsements may violate a lawyer’s ethical obligations. Specifically, in LinkedIn, your connections may endorse you for a specific area of law. If you have no expertise in that area, or you’ve never provided legal services to the endorser, then the most cautious option is to hide the endorsement.
Make Connections That Matter — Your connections are very important on LinkedIn. Unlike Twitter, where people tend to follow everyone who follows them, on LinkedIn, it’s important to understand why you would like to connect with someone. LinkedIn tends to have a more professional presence. Recognize that, although it is in a virtual form, LinkedIn provides an opportunity to cultivate relationships. Consider it as a virtual networking event. Keep an eye toward building and nurturing the relationships with your connections through regular contact. Connect with the people you work with, and the people you have worked with first. Build those relationships before adding connections of people you don’t know unless you’re introduced by one of your connections.
Ask For Specific Recommendations — If you are looking to build your credibility, ask for specific recommendations of people that have worked with you. Unlike an endorsement, which is a one-click way for your connections to endorse your skills and expertise, a recommendation is a written statement of recommendation from a connection. You may request recommendations from your connections, but note the same ethical risks apply. When asking for a recommendation, don’t be generic in your request. Instead, ask each person for recommendations about specific tasks that you performed. Sometimes, it may help to refresh their recollection of what you have done for them. To mitigate any risk of an ethical violation, ask to review the recommendation before it is posted to ensure its accuracy.
Grab Your Name URL — LinkedIn allows you to choose a unique URL with which to invite people to view your profile. It’s important to try to get a URL consisting of your name (or if you’re a solo, your law firm name) if possible. This simple step offers a more polished and professional presence. Plus, it can be an additional SEO measure since these are indexed in search results. To learn how to customize your URL, click here.
Fill Your Profile Out Completely — Don’t leave your profile unfinished. It can take a couple of hours to finish it properly, but if you know what you need for it in advance of sitting down to do it, you’ll be able to complete it in one sitting. Having your resume nearby will help, as will having electronic versions of work samples. You can continually perfect your profile, but finish it as soon as possible.
If you want to be taken seriously as a legal professional, create a honest and complete profile on LinkedIn. Then, start asking for recommendations, join and create groups, and become an active part of the LinkedIn community by providing valuable content. You only get out of anything what you put into it. Plan to put a lot into LinkedIn because you have the potential to get a lot out of it in return.
Do you know a lawyer who would like to build their book of business or find another job? If so, share this article with them so they can use some of these tips to help them reach their goal, or have them email us at Ann@EsquireCoaching.com for more custom solutions.