Trial & Error: How lawyers can leverage LinkedIn (part 2)

In my last column, I suggested a few ways that lawyers can use LinkedIn to enhance their professional band. But all of that effort will go to waste if you don’t start with a strong profile. So here are six simple tips for building and managing a stellar LinkedIn page:

  1. Write your summary in the first person
    When people visit your profile, this is probably the only thing they’ll read. So take some time to write a punchy, 30-second snapshot of who you are professionally. And to make it more personal and authentic, write it in the first person.
  2. Include your contact information
    You might have concerns about privacy, but LinkedIn is only helpful if connections can actually contact you — and the LinkedIn messenger service is not user-friendly. I find it helpful to include my email on my profile. (Plus, my work email is Google-able anyway.)
  3. Accept most invitations to connect
    But don’t blindly accept every request. At worst, you’ll be spammed and, at best, you’ll have an unwieldy and impersonal network. As a general rule, filter out people you’ve never met, unless they send you a message explaining why they want to get in touch.
  4. Post updates regularly
    Even if you’re just commenting on a piece of legal news, posting often will keep you top-of-mind within your network and enhance your professional brand. I also use Hootsuite, which lets me manage both my LinkedIn profile and my Twitter feed at once.
  5. Be cautious about endorsements
    It’s flattering to receive endorsements from other users — and they are the mark of a strong profile — but be wary if someone endorses you for a skill you don’t possess. It both muddies your professional brand and it can mislead potential clients.
  6. Use groups sparingly
    In theory, groups should help you meet new people in your field, discuss the latest trends and learn about cool events. But in my experience, most groups are more annoying than helpful. Be thoughtful about which groups you join or you might be overwhelmed with spam. I prefer to join closed groups with moderators who are selective about who can become a member. Feel free to join and exit groups until you find a few that work for you.

Happy linking!


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis

 

Trial & Error: How lawyers can leverage LinkedIn (part 1)

Hey lawyers — it’s time to get on LinkedIn. Or, if you’re on it and barely use it, it’s time to get your act together. Your career will thank you.

For the uninitiated, LinkedIn is essentially an online CV — a summary of your experience and accomplishments, connected to a network of your contacts. Many associates erroneously believe that they only need a profile if they are looking for a job. However, LinkedIn can be a powerful business development and profile-building tool and need not be limited to those on the job hunt.

Here the top four ways I use LinkedIn:

  1. As a database of experts
    As part of my litigation practice, I often look for the leading experts in a particular field. LinkedIn is a great database for searching for individuals with specific expertise. I often find that potential experts are more responsive to a LinkedIn request because the expert will know that I am a lawyer, can review my background and experience, and can see if we have any common connections.
  2. As a tool to stay in touch
    LinkedIn helps me stay in touch with a broader network of people and helps me keep track of individuals as they move around. I aim to message someone I have not seen in a while or who I do not know very well once a month and suggest meeting for coffee or lunch. It may initially be intidimating to visit a profile, because LinkedIn tracks it — users can see who’s viewed their profile. However, there’s no real downside to a little LinkedIn “creeping.” After all, that’s kind of the point of making a  profile. I often look to who has viewed my profile as an inspiration for who I might reach out to for a coffee.
  3. As a way to help others in my network
    I also use LinkedIn proactively to help other people. For example, if I notice that a contact has moved to a company where I already have a friend, I will offer to make an introduction. Helping others in this way brings me joy and keeps me plugged into my network.
  4. As a vehicle to promote my writing
    I am always sure to post my latest Precedent column on LinkedIn. This allows me to keep my contacts updated on me and grow the reach of my writing.

The more you use LinkedIn, the more profile views you’ll generate. It doesn’t matter how impressive your resume is if no one sees it. The profile-building value of the LinkedIn profile lies in the number of times it’s viewed.

Coming next month, Part 2: Best practices for creating your LinkedIn profile.


Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis

Advice: The job-seeker’s guide to social media

Twitter

“It’s the engine of the social internet,” says Lisa Stam, partner and founder of Toronto employment law firm Koldorf Stam LLP. On Twitter, news articles, cat videos and racy comments can go viral in a snap.

thumbs-upUse a casual but professional photo of yourself. Post a mix of ideas, stories, images and videos about your personal and professional interests.

thumbs-down“If you’re tweeting about every single subject under the sun 20 times a day, I don’t know who you are,” says Stam. Show some personality. Join conversations on topics you’re passionate about. But be careful with your words: everyone is watching. 

 

Facebook

Your mother is on here! And so is your boss. The lines between private and public have blurred, so tread carefully. Adjust your privacy settings so that only people you’ve friended can see your activity. 

thumbs-upConsider making two profiles, suggests employment lawyer Sean Bawden. One for family and friends and the other for classmates and colleagues (your classmates will soon be your colleagues). 

thumbs-downDrunken party pics — not a great idea. Since you can’t control what your friends post and others might see, avoid having those pictures taken in the first place. 

 

LinkedIn

Social media’s business networking site is great for making connections, getting your CV out there and browsing job postings. Don’t be surprised to see that your future employer viewed your profile before your interview. 

thumbs-upJoin groups in your practice area of interest and get in on the conversation. Stam suggests creating a group of your graduating class — a great source for future business. 

thumbs-downUpdating your profile just once and posting no picture (or an unprofessional one) will hurt more than it will help. Keep your profile up to date, linking it to any published papers or law-related club memberships. 


Read more about how to master the professional side of social media.


This story appears in our 2014 national Student Issue