A lawyer frequenting social networks too frequently can give the impression that they have nothing better to do. LinkedIn, however, is an exception, since it is a social platform for professionals. When you have a regular presence here, you are actually creating exposure for your brand. The way you work, the types of cases you handle, the price you charge for your services and the quality of what you give in return – these are the things that create your brand for you. Let’s take a closer look at what LinkedIn can do for your professional life as a lawyer.
1. About the frequenting bit
When we say that, we mean you must be regular enough to view important updates and find new people to connect with. We certainly don’t mean you should spend hours being there every day. 10 – 15 minutes is enough for monitoring and regular works like updating or posting something. When you seriously engage with someone or enhance your profile in some manner, it takes a while, but the time spent is well worth it.
2. Looks matter
Did you complete your profile? LinkedIn helps you reach 100 percent completion – just follow the guidelines. However, completing your profile is only the first step. When you do that it simply means you have put in the bare minimum where it belongs. You should go for periodic profile enhancements by adding your most recent achievements and writing in detail about your work experience. Don’t be afraid that people will find all that stuff boring. No single person is likely to read through everything that you write but if you did your basic keyword research while adding content, people interested in sections of your profile represented by such keywords will definitely read what they feel they need to read.
The look of your profile, and we do mean ‘look’, white space and all, should not overwhelm, but welcome. People should be able to find their way through all that you have mentioned. And don’t forget the photograph. Post a pleasant, professional looking image of yourself in formal clothes. If your USP is building a gunslinger lawyer reputation, by all means, dress casual and grin widely, but that’s not how the majority of lawyers usually want to represent themselves. Try not to present yourself in a lawyer’s gown either – that could make you look alien to approach for a lot of clients. People with problems want problem-solvers they can relate to. A photograph that screams out that you are a lawyer can make people fail to see that you are an extremely approachable human being as well.
3. Networking is power
LinkedIn is all about professional networking and creating contacts to increase your exposure. There are levels of connection, as you are aware if you are a member, and your job is make most of the people you know your first degree connection. There are many ways to do this. Let’s look at a moderately simple example. You find that a prominent influencer in your industry is your 4th level connection. That’s pretty far away from you. It means they are your friend’s friend’s friend’s friend. Start looking for groups this person is active in. If you find one that interests you, join in. The ‘interests you’ part is important because you need to be able to put in useful comments to get yourself noticed.
This could take a while (or it could happen overnight) – but you will eventually find a discussion where your target has participated either by creating it or by posting a comment. Now it is up to you to provide some input that is likely to catch their eye. It is not necessary to agree with them, either. You can contradict their point of view and provide something radically different, interesting, and eminently sensible.
After a while you can send in a request to be their connection. Don’t hesitate to do this when you feel the time is right. They are the prominent personage, not you, not yet, anyway. So, you are the one who is expected to send in the invite and not the other way round. We are not saying that it will not happen, but we’d certainly advise against waiting for it to happen when you should be busy being proactive.
4. Speaking of groups
There are a number of useful groups on LinkedIn and as a lawyer, you could find several. You should join as many as you find useful. It is not necessary to be active on all of them. However, unless you pay attention to the updates you are likely to miss out on a lot of information. The point of joining in as many as you can is to find people to connect with. This, of course, is aside of the fact that groups on, say, criminal law and practice, will definitely keep you completely updated on the subject and you will be able to help yourself in several different ways if you engage with the experts in the group. Again, some of these experts could become your first level connections and that’s mostly where referrals come from.
It is important to understand that while you should be careful of the company you keep (since people tend to judge you by that and this affects your brand image), it is totally recommended to connect with your competitors. Keep your enemies closer is good advice and your competitors can be an excellent scale to measure yourself with. You can sometimes set up mutually beneficial relationships and help each other to become better while maintaining boundaries. The possibilities are there and we’d ask you to explore them when possible.
5. Cross platform strategies
You can publish your blog posts or articles written by you or about you (showing you in a positive light) on LinkedIn. But you can also draw people from other social networks to LinkedIn.
For example: you have a Facebook Page on your practice. It is in sync with the Facebook platform which is more social than professional. You can even post lawyer jokes occasionally and make it a point to publish something that would interest and provide value to the average person. Now, if you wish to connect the Page to your LinkedIn profile in the hope that some of your FB connections will want to visit that profile to seek your services, you can deliberately make the FB page less professional. You can put a casual and widely smiling photo of you in there as well as post family photos. You can mention clearly that people should visit your LinkedIn profile for your services. You can make it somewhat funny by saying something like ‘You want to know what I look like when I work? Visit this link … ‘ . Yes, we know you can do better – that was just an example! This way, you get to split yourself where the more social and human you is on a social network and the more professional and less social traits are displayed on a professional network.