With LinkedIn reporting record levels of engagement amid COVID-19 conditions, there’s good reason for attorneys to embrace this social platform for business development, thought leadership, and credentialing. LinkedIn bears low-hanging fruit for lawyers at all levels who want to be more intentional about nurturing their professional networks and personal brands.
Essential Tips for Lawyers on LinkedIn
Here are 20 tips for leveraging LinkedIn’s newest features and tested tools. Tune into your preferred volume of visibility – from listen-only mode, to soft-touch outreach, to loud activation with content creation. You CAN realize a return on your social networking effort while also staying true to your style and comfort level.
- Be found. Ensure your personal profile page is searchable by using keywords and terms that reflect your ideal client and the latest trends affecting their industries and business operations.
- Face up. Upload a professional headshot photo that is current. Smile with your eyes. Crop it with the built-in adjustments so that your face fills 60% of the space.
- Make headlines. The Heading beneath your photo is highly visible to users and search algorithms. Give it readability and a hint of intrigue by going beyond your generic title and firm name. The headline area was recently expanded to 220 characters. Tell a story. Try this formula: “I (verb) (target market) (problems solved).” I help lawyers avoid random acts of marketing. In most cases, attorneys should avoid emojis, all CAPS, and offbeat monikers like guru, ninja or rockstar.
- Impress. Make first impressions count with an About section (formerly called Summary) that describes your story and practice niche. Share your unique value in a conversationally-written introduction. This is a personal piece of content marketing. Avoid recycling paragraphs from your firm website biography. Try using first-person phrasing.
- Speak up. You can now record how to pronounce your name and display it on your profile for others to listen to. Help connections to correctly address you when they speak to you.
- State your pronouns. In our heightened awareness of all things belonging, inclusion and diversity, the deliberate display of chosen pronouns is becoming commonplace on LinkedIn. While there is not yet a designated area on the profile page, I’m seeing more and more legal professionals add (she/her/hers) or (they/them/theirs) to the Last Name field.
- Fact check. I’m surprised how frequently I look up the Contact Info on a lawyer’s LinkedIn profile and find old email addresses and website links to prior workplaces. Check yourself.
- Showcase. The new Featured Section of your Profile allows you to showcase a carousel of content, including prior posts, photos, webinars, videos, podcasts, articles, media mentions, infographics, slides, and more. This is a colorful, clickable, refreshing way to tell your professional story.
- Get bespoke. Take the extra steps to customize your Public Profile URL, it should look like this: www.linkedin.com/in/yourname
- Watch your back. Review and adjust your privacy settings and understand how others see your LinkedIn activity. Are you in privacy mode or are your name and headline visible to others in the Profile Viewers tab? Best to check regularly. Company Page follower lists were recently unlocked for page administrators; anyone who is following a Company page should be aware that their identity is no longer anonymous.
- ICYMI. Many LinkedIn users choose not to broadcast title and workplace changes to their networks with auto-generated notifications and self-authored posts. Yes, you can toggle off those announcements whenever you make changes to your Experience section. Set a reminder to periodically browse the “My Network” area manually to spot connections with a different title or workplace from what you recall. This is valuable intelligence for creating conversations. I challenge you to find five people with changes and set out to interact or reconnect over the next 30 days, on or off the LinkedIn platform.
- Take Time to Dwell. The LinkedIn algorithms often change to help improve your experience and what you see in your news feed. When you linger longer on a post, it can help the author get more visibility and interaction. The more you interact with other posts and pages, the more LinkedIn will learn about your content preferences and who you want to see in your news feed. The platform’s algorithms are powerful, but you must teach the AI to deliver what matters to you.
- Reboot relationships. I love this video from Adam Grant about the power of dormant ties. LinkedIn can make the rekindling easier, as long as you respect the platform and the process. Don’t spam or stalk or sell. Reach out authentically. Suspend your self-interest. In the video, Adam shares a few scripts for outreach to former colleagues, clients, classmates, and other connectors you lost touch with.
- Survey says? With LinkedIn’s new Polling feature “you can easily tap into the collective knowledge of your network by creating a lightweight poll in less than 30 seconds.”
- Mine the feeds. Your homepage and notification feeds present a goldmine of triggers and reasons to engage with connections on LinkedIn and beyond. “Your name popped up in my news feed on LinkedIn…”
- Connect. Are there secret features that get unlocked when you hit 500 connections? Nope. But that’s not a bad goal. Balance quality and quantity – it’s about knowing people more versus knowing more people. Always personalize invitations to connect. Add LinkedIn outreach to your system of post-event follow-up steps.
- Comment. Comments are King in the world of LinkedIn algorithms. If you don’t have time or desire to create original posts, a Comment Strategy is an efficient way to cultivate credibility and be more visible to your network. Your comments should serve to add value to the original poster. Resist the urge to self-promote, pontificate, or humblebrag. A drive-by or one-word comment can also be a detractor. Chime in with real insight by asking a question, recommending a tool, amplifying a perspective, or sharing an article link.
- Congratulate. Celebrate others and minimize bragging. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind: 80% of your posts should inform, educate, and entertain your followers, while only 20% should self-promote.
- Curate. Identify shareable expert and opinion pieces that will resonate with your followers. Repost content with a brainy introduction and @mention the author or source. Demonstrate your interest and expertise in niche topics.
- Create. Thought leadership content can generate warm leads and prime existing relationships. The “Write Article” tool is user-friendly and can serve as a personal blog. Repurpose and republish excerpts from your webinars, virtual conference talks and bylined pieces. Post short form text-only recaps of online conference sessions you attend to add value for your followers. Whether you go big, or go brief, your original insights have a place on LinkedIn.
Do you have nine minutes to spare?
Now is the time to retool and reboot your engagement on LinkedIn, even if it’s only for 9 minutes a day and at a low, medium, or loud visibility volume. Outshine the competition by leaning into the power of this platform to drive business and brand development, and help to nurture a self-sustaining practice.
About the Author: Jen Forester is a business development coach and virtual networking enthusiast. She helps lawyers avoid random acts of marketing. Jen offers private LinkedIn coaching and consults on a variety of business development, client service, and marketing strategies.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Placer County Bar Association’s August newsletter. See prior “Marketing Mindset” columns: The ABCs of Virtual Networking (June) and WFH Productivity Pivots (May)