Last Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys Winter Conference on how to use LinkedIn to gain visibility and build the relationships important for business development. If you are interested in viewing the presentation, you can access the Prezi here.
Components of a LinkedIn Profile
If you are new to LinkedIn, or simply looking to freshen up your profile, I’ve included some helpful hints below. Some of my notes include reference to the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, which, of course, are specific to North Carolina attorneys. If you are a lawyer in another jurisdiction, make sure to check your rules on advertising as they likely apply to your LinkedIn profile and website as well.
Your LinkedIn Headline, Photo, Custom URL and Posts
- Profile Photo: Make sure you have one! Profiles with photos are 7-11 times more likely to be viewed.
- Headline: Consider updating your headline to the “type” of attorney you are instead of “Partner, XYZ Law Firm.” What would a potential client search for on LinkedIn if he/she needed your services? For instance, “Employment Law Attorney” or “Worker’s Compensation Attorney for NC Employers”
- Custom URL: Show your social media savvy with a custom URL.
- Your Posts: Any posts you publish on LinkedIn will be viewable here. A best practice if you are publishing to your firm’s blog: write an introduction to the post on LinkedIn and link back to the blog post on your firm’s site.
Additional Components of Your Profile
- Arguably one of the most important components of your LinkedIn profile. Take advantage of the opportunity to describe who you help and how you help them. (Your Unique Value Proposition.)
- Don’t use the word “Specialties,” “Specialize,” or “Specialist” unless you are a Board Certified Specialist, as certified by the NC State Bar. (See Rule 7.4, Comment 1.)
- Don’t use the word “Expert” or “Expertise” unless you can back it up.
- List your work experience here, but also consider volunteer experience, especially for organizations with which you have a leadership role.
- What committees do you serve on within your firm or in other organizations? You may want to include things like: serving on the firm’s website committee, planning a women’s initiative event, etc.
Skills & Endorsements
- Don’t display endorsements for areas of law in which you do not practice. This would be misleading which is prohibited by Rule 7.1.
- 2014 FEO 8: January 2015: You can connect with judges on LinkedIn, but you cannot accept endorsements from judges. Additionally, if you accept an endorsement from a lawyer who subsequently becomes a judge, and you know, or reasonably should know, that lawyer is now a judge you have to remove the endorsement from your page.
- You can opt out of endorsements all together.
- Share a little more about yourself! Potential clients might like to know what you are interested in outside of your practice. This is an opportunity to build rapport before you even speak with someone.
- For volunteer positions or membership organizations if you did not include them in the experience section of your profile.
Honors & Awards
- You can include Super Lawyers, Business NC Legal Elite, Best Lawyers and other awards, but make sure you include a disclaimer with a link to the page on their respective site that outlines how the award recipients are selected.
- List your presentations at CLEs or for industry groups; articles you’ve written for an organization’s newsletter, etc.
- Recommendations are great! But make sure that whoever recommends you stays within the boundaries of the Rules of Professional Conduct. You have the opportunity to approve recommendations before they go on your page. If the person recommending you violates the rules, simply ask them to amend their recommendation with the specific change you need to be in compliance.
- Should you hide your connections from your network, or make them visible? It depends. To hide them select, “Privacy & Settings” > “Select Who Can See Your Connections” > Choose “Only You”
We covered much more than this in the presentation, some of which I will be writing about in the weeks ahead. What questions do you have about LinkedIn? Feel free to ask in the comments.