YourABA December 2011 Masthead

Dos and Don’ts for success on LinkedIn

Looking for a way to connect with colleagues and potential clients? If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, it may be time to take the plunge. In his Law Practice Magazine article, “Essential Dos and Don’ts for LinkedIn Users,” law practice management expert Dan Pinnington says the social media site now has more the 120 million users and ranks as the 13th most visited site on the planet.

Another reason to jump in—“LinkedIn profiles are optimized to perform well in search engines, specifically when someone is searching you by name,” he says, pointing out that it’s not uncommon for a lawyer’s LinkedIn profile to rank above her law firm’s website.

Pinnington shares more than three dozen dos and don’ts for LinkedIn users, and among them are these nine standouts to remember:

Do create a vanity URL – Your default URL will be “alpha-numeric gibberish,” and creating a personalized one is easier to remember and far more friendly. To do so, click “Settings,” then “Public Profile” under “Profile Settings.”  Pinnington’s recommended URL:

Do be careful about conflicts of interest – Think twice before connecting with professionals who might be involved with matters you’re handling. “While you may know them well, and even be good friends with them, consider how having them listed as a contact might look to a client or the party on the other side of a matter,” Pinnington explains.

Do right-click to open a new tab when extending connection invitations – “What I find really annoying is that clicking on ‘Connect’ to add a new contact causes the list of suggested contacts to disappear or reset to the top,” says Pinnington. “If you right-click on ‘Connect’ and select ‘Open in a New Tab,’ the invite will appear on a new tab and you still have the list of suggested contacts to work from.”

Do make it easy for people to connect with you – While LinkedIn allows users to limit their connections to those on a contact list or people who already know your email address, don’t do it, advises Pinnington.

Do create a LinkedIn group – “To show yourself as a thought leader, create your own group in an area that you want to build a profile in,” advises Pinnington, pointing out that such an endeavor can bring positive attention.

Do comment and ask questions – Gain greater visibility among your contacts by sharing your views on a LinkedIn post by one of your respective peers. Also, “asking questions is a great way to engage your contacts.”

Don’t use formal or dry CV-speak in your profile – Instead, inject personality and focus on information that clients really want to learn about you. “Make an educated guess as to the words prospective clients might search to find you, and sprinkle these words throughout your profile,” suggests Pinnington.

Don’t overdo it with posting updates – Being visible to your contacts is key to success on LinkedIn, so regular posts are important. However, limit updates to posts that are meaningful and demonstrate your knowledge and insight—rather than “self-promotional commercial crap.” Also, don’t post several updates all at once. Instead, use HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule your updates throughout the day or week.

Don’t use LinkedIn messages for lawyer-client communication – “You can’t assume messages sent through LinkedIn are private,” warns Pinnington.

Law Practice Magazine is a publication of the Law Practice Management Section

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