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LinkedIn: Tips for Attorneys

By Christina E. Cortino, Esq., Law Office of Christina E. Cortino

Using social media as a busy legal professional may seem like a daunting undertaking. Platforms such as Twitter require frequent postings to maintain and gain followers, while Facebook and Instagram are geared towards personal communication rather than professional networking. LinkedIn, however, offers tools attorneys can use to establish a professional presence online, market their expertise, and engage their network and prospective clients.

Professional social networking has benefits for all legal professionals, from law students to skilled and experienced partners. Having a profile puts a face to that expertise, showcases skills and experience, and enables the user to connect with peers, employers, prospective clients, and industry experts.

HOW TO MANAGE PRIVACY ON LINKEDIN

LinkedIn’s default settings create a public profile for its users. This includes allowing users to see who has viewed their profile and notifying users of of their connections profile updates. The default settings, however, are fully customizable and can be controlled by the user in three ways: (1) restricting what other LinkedIn users see when viewing their profile; (2) limiting notifications to others regarding minor profile updates; and (3) deciding what the general public can see about your profile. Changing the default settings is the key to effectively managing privacy on LinkedIn.

Under Privacy & Settingsusers have the option to select what others see when viewing their profile. Browsing anonymously may be preferred by some, and can be accomplished by selecting “Complete Private Mode.” Under this setting, when viewing another user’s profile, that user will only see that a “LinkedIn User” viewed them, not the class=”anchor” name of the viewer.

LinkedIn’s default setting also shares all profile updates on the user’s newsfeed. For example, if a user adds a new job to their profile, the new job is shared in the user’s profile feed and can be seen publicly. Managing this setting is easy via Privacy & Settings or by selecting “Yes” or “No” as appropriate on the toggle titled “Notify Your Network” located on the profile. Turn on notifications for newsworthy updates such as a new job or award, and turn off notifications to make minor edits, add past job positions, and list prior educational accomplishments.

Users can also control how their LinkedIn profile appears in public searches. By default, visitors have access to view a user’s entire profile, including their picture, summary of experience, current employment position, and more. The viewer is not required to have a LinkedIn account to view this information. The public profile is customizable under the Profile Settings section, and can be limited to basic information, made fully available, or blocked from public view altogether.

TIPS FOR CREATING A STRONG PROFILE

  1. Treat the profile like your resume. In addition to accurate dates and position titles, ensure that, at a minimum, your most recent job is described.
  2. Write a captivating headline. Instead of leaving it blank or writing simply “Attorney,” try “Attorney specializing in labor and employment law” or other short, yet descriptive, headline that summarizes what you do.
  3. Upload a professional headshot. Profiles with photos generate more interest than those without photos. Having a photo also helps prospective clients and those in your network identify you online and in the real world.
  4. Use a custom URL. LinkedIn allows its users to create a custom URL. Select an easy-to–relay, professionally class=”anchor” named address, such as www.LinkedIn.com/in/AttorneyName.
  5. Create a summary that demonstrates your experience, expertise, key skills, and lists the industries you work in or have worked in over the years.
  6. Add language skills, personal interests, and awards received to highlight your profile and add interest to viewers.
  7. Keep your information up-to-date. If you’ve recently changed jobs, have a new practice area, or received a professional award, make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated with the correct information.
  8. Post relevant professional articles pertaining to your area of interest or expertise.
  9. Follow groups and companies relevant to your industry or area of expertise.
  10. List relevant skills. LinkedIn will occasionally ask your connections to endorse you for skills. Choose five to ten relevant skills that describe your practice or expertise to avoid LinkedIn’s general recommendations.

BUILDING YOUR NETWORK

Adding connections on LinkedIn can be accomplished by: (1) synching LinkedIn with your email contacts and inviting some or all contacts to connect with you; (2) searching for and adding specific class=”anchor” names of people that you know; and (3) browsing through the People You May Know recommendations provided by LinkedIn.

The first method, while efficient, has drawbacks, particularly if LinkedIn connects with your personal contacts. Sending out invitations to your entire contact list is impersonal. When connecting with users you have no existing relationship with, the recommended practice is to send a brief note introducing yourself and inviting them to review your profile. Manually adding contacts is the best way to ensure you’re connected to people you know in a professional capacity.

Using LinkedIn effectively can take as little as five minutes per week to keep your profile up-to-date, connect with people you know, and share relevant material to your network.  For California attorneys interested in learning about the ethical implications of using social media, see ethics opinions and articles by the State Bar of California HERE.

FOOTNOTE

Tip: To access the “Privacy & Settings” menu, hover your cursor over your profile picture in the upper right hand portion of the screen. A menu will appear. Click “Manage” next to Privacy & Settings. Back

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