Are you one of the many attorneys who joined LinkedIn, but, after filling out a basic profile, attaching a photo of yourself, and adding some old classmates or colleagues to your network, left your account untouched? If so, then by not completing your profile or not understanding all of the features LinkedIn offers, you have failed to increase your visibility and overlooked a number of other valuable benefits to you and your law practice. There are a number of professional social networking sites that attorneys use, including LinkedIn, LawLink, Legal OnRamp, and more. However, LinkedIn is the most common social networking site used by legal professionals.It allows you to reach more than 140 million members, 39 percent of whom are managers, directors, owners, chief officers, or vice presidents. Below are five easy tips that you can implement to use your LinkedIn account more effectively and increase your visibility.
Complete Your Profile Using Relevant Keywords
Jot down a list of keywords and phrases that describe your current position, your practice area, and any specialties. Then, to optimize your profile (i.e., increase your search visibility on LinkedIn), include those keywords in your profile and increase your profile completeness. Your profile completeness is based upon your completion of (1) your industry and postal code, (2) a current position with description, (3) two more positions, (4) your education, (5) at least five skills, (6) a profile photo, (7) at least 50 connections, and (8) a summary. To increase your visibility, you should pay particular attention to your headline, summary, skills, specialties, job titles, and description of your current/previous positions. The words and phrases that you use in your profile play a significant role in determining your visibility on LinkedIn.
You should also add your previous work experience and a complete description of your educational background, which will make your profile more visible to former colleagues and classmates. However, you should carefully consider which work experiences or extracurricular activities to include, limiting your list to experiences that you think will be meaningful to potential clients and employers. By including this information, the "People You May Know" tab, which is the LinkedIn feature that suggests persons for your network, will automatically produce potential contacts from a business or organization for which you previously worked, and, more importantly, former colleagues will be able to find you.
LinkedIn also features a "Profile Stats" page that allows you to view various statistics about your profile. One section of the Profile Stats page includes a list of your top search keywords, meaning these keywords are the terms that will retrieve your profile in a LinkedIn search. If you notice keywords on this list that are unrelated to your current practice areas, revise your profile to eliminate irrelevant keywords.
Tag Your Connections
Most LinkedIn users under-utilize, or are unaware of, the tagging feature. This feature allows you to categorize, or group, your connections any way you see fit (e.g., by company, title, or years you have known connections). As your number of contacts grows, the tags allow you to filter connections smoothly and tailor messages for a specified group. Also, they remind you of relevant facts about your connections. For instance, if you want to share an article with all of your law school classmates, then you can create a label such as "Law School Classmates" and tag those connections with that label.
Customize Your Public Profile URL and Using a Profile Badge
After creating your LinkedIn profile, you can also edit your public profile and control what content is displayed to the general public and to LinkedIn users who are not connections. Your public profile URL is initially set up with random numbers attached to your name, but you can customize this URL to be something more concise and easier to remember.
You can also promote your profile by adding a LinkedIn badge to your website, blog, or any other online file. The badge is simply an image that displays text stating either "View my profile on LinkedIn" or "my LinkedIn profile" and acts as a link to your public profile. By adding your badge, you allow people easily to pull up your profile and learn more information about you.
Join Useful Groups
To build meaningful relationships and interact with other users on LinkedIn, you should consider joining various groups. Currently, there are more than 1 million groups, which include: alumni organizations for schools and businesses, various businesses and industries, legal practice areas, and numerous other organizations and interest groups. LinkedIn users share ideas and comments within these groups and often post informational articles or links. At a minimum, consider joining legal groups relevant to your practice area, such as one of the ABA Sections and the ABA Young Lawyers Division group. You will benefit from these groups by participating in discussions and receiving email notifications, which will keep you informed of upcoming legal conferences in which you may have an interest.
Download Useful Applications
For attorneys, one of the most useful tools on LinkedIn is Legal Updates by JD Supra. The JD Supra application is a collection of documents and publications that are uploaded by attorneys and categorized in more than 50 different subjects. By adding the JD Supra application, you can choose to receive email updates or browse through different subjects on the application in LinkedIn. The subjects cover practice areas such as antitrust, e-discovery, intellectual property, family, immigration, products liability, and zoning law. If you are already publishing legal articles, then you can significantly increase your online visibility and further your law firm's marketing efforts by posting your articles on JD Supra along with the URL of your firm's website and blog.
There are a number of other useful applications most people have never heard of. The Box application allows you to manage and share documents that are stored on Box's online cloud storage/file sharing website. You may also benefit from sharing a slideshow presentation from a CLE or a published article. As an alternative to Box, the most popular tool for sharing presentations is the SlideShare application. Whether you use Box or SlideShare, any documents that you upload onto your LinkedIn folder on the Box website or the SlideShare website will be accessible through your LinkedIn account.
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first pieces of information that people find when searching for you. Complete your profile by using keywords that will increase your visibility. Evaluate the many tools and features that may benefit your practice. For more tips on marketing yourself, including additional information about effectively using your LinkedIn account, visit Legal Marketing Reader, which tracks more than 25 top law firm marketing blogs.