March/April 2021

Simple Steps: Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

Allison C. Shields Johs

According to the ABA’s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, 88 percent of lawyers use LinkedIn personally for professional purposes. But how many lawyers differentiate themselves effectively on the platform? Make your LinkedIn profile stand out by writing it in a way that engages and inspires clients, potential clients and referral sources.

Write in the first person.

Your LinkedIn profile stands in your shoes to network for you online, so it makes sense to write your LinkedIn profile in the first person, as if you are talking directly to those who visit your profile, rather than in the third person, as is common on lawyer website bio pages. Your LinkedIn profile should not be just a list of accomplishments or practice areas. Give it some life by talking about the kinds of clients you represent and why those clients and their matters are important to you. Include examples. Talk about volunteer or charitable work that is meaningful to you or that affects your clients.

Consider your audience.

Who are you trying to reach on LinkedIn? For many lawyers, building a network on LinkedIn is more about building relationships with referral sources than it is about connecting directly with potential clients. But whether you are connecting with potential clients or referral sources, it is important to always keep your audience in mind as you are writing your LinkedIn profile. How do they talk about their needs or problems? What is most important to them when seeking legal help for themselves or their clients? How can you help?

Use the pronunciation tool.

One of LinkedIn’s newest features allows you to record the pronunciation of your name and add it to your profile, next to your name. This is a handy feature that can help you move your online network offline and into the “real world.” As you build and develop these relationships, hopefully you will have an opportunity to speak with your LinkedIn connections, whether in person, over the phone or in a videocall or meeting. This allows your connections to hear how to pronounce your name, making those first conversations much less awkward. Look for this feature on the profiles of your connections, too, so you can pronounce their names correctly from the very beginning.

Showcase your services.

If you are a solo, consider using the “showcase services.” This feature lets you choose from a list to highlight specific services that you provide to clients. You are permitted to list up to 10 services, but only the first few will display without the visitor clicking “see all details,” so put the most important ones first. Taking advantage of this feature may help you to get more inquiries from referral sources and potential clients. LinkedIn members can now filter their LinkedIn searches for service providers; adding this section to your profile will help you rank well in searches for the services you list. If this feature is available to you, you will see a “showcase services” box under your headline. Once you have added services to your profile, they will appear here.

Expand your headline and About section.

LinkedIn has expanded character counts in several areas on the profile—most notably the headline or title, formerly 120 characters, now expanded to over 200 characters, and the About section, expanded from 2,000 to 2,600 characters. Keep in mind that visitors to your profile will not see the entirety of these sections at first glance—an extra click in each section is required to expand it to the full view—so the most important information should always appear at the beginning of each of these sections.

But just because you have more room doesn’t mean you should get lazy with your writing. Write clearly and succinctly. Do not use jargon or legalese unless your clients and referral sources use them. Speak directly to your audience. Experiment with different versions of your headline and your About section; see whether making small changes increases the number of connection requests or accepted invitations you receive from your target audience.

Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be limited to text. LinkedIn offers several opportunities to add images or other media that can help break up the text on your profile and demonstrate your expertise in a more visually interesting way.

Make a statement with your cover image.

The header or cover image appears at the very top of your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn recommends cover images be 1584 by 396 pixels in size. Choose a cover image that demonstrates what you do or create your own image. Even if you don’t have a marketing department or graphic designer, you can create your own cover image using software like PowerPoint or a service like Canva. com, which includes free and inexpensive templates in the correct dimensions that can be customized to incorporate your logo, colors or other branding.

Your cover image could incorporate your contact info, putting it front and center at the top of your profile and making it easier for prospects and referral sources to contact you outside of LinkedIn. And if your firm has its own LinkedIn business page, you might consider creating a banner image for that page as well. The recommended size for business page cover images is 1536 by 768 pixels.

Add media to your profile.

In addition to the cover image, LinkedIn provides several opportunities to add media—including photos, video, slide presentations and documents—to your profile. In recent months, LinkedIn has moved media from the About (or Summary) section to its own Featured section between About and Experience on the profile.

The visual elements in the Featured section are a bit larger than media elements in other profile sections, making this an ideal section to visually demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Make use of the Featured section by adding samples of your work or highlighting features of your service. If you do presentations, add the slide presentation—or just selected slides—to answer frequently asked questions. Show images, whether they are images of firm events, charity work or images of you speaking at a CLE. Post video to tell your story, describe your services or answer some frequently asked questions. You can add PDFs or links to articles here, too. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.

Add bold or italic text or graphics to your LinkedIn profile.

These elements should be used sparingly, but they can help to draw attention to specific portions of your About or Experience section, or to break up long blocks of text. For example, you might choose to use a different character in place of typical circular bullet points or place a special character between elements in your headline.

Special characters do not often copy well from word-processing programs, so to add these characters to your profile, you may need to copy them directly from the character map on your computer, from a text generator or from Wikipedia’s list of Unicode characters.

Connect LinkedIn to your website.

Because of its size and search engine strength, LinkedIn can be a powerful platform for developing business relationships and building an online reputation. But it is still a platform that is owned by an outside company that is not under your control. Make sure that any content you have posted on LinkedIn is available elsewhere so that you never lose access to it. Or, post the original content on your website and an abbreviated version on LinkedIn that links back to your own website for additional information.

Allison C. Shields Johs

President

Allison C. Shields Johs is the president of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., where she works with lawyers and law firms to develop strategies to improve marketing and client service, and increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. She is the co-author of several books, including Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Handbook for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA 2013) and How to Do More in Less Time: The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Productivity and Improving Your Bottom Line (ABA 2014). allison@legaleaseconsulting.com