LinkedIn: A Final Look

In our previous two-part LinkedIn series, we focused on how to use the service to find the connections you need, so we now want to discuss how others can find you.  After all, networking is a two-way street.  With that in mind, let’s start with a few tips to strengthen your profile and your presence.  Our intent is simple: we want to direct as many people as possible to your page and, when they arrive, we want them to be impressed.

Get Ready for Your Close-Up

Unless you’re somehow accessing this blog from the mid-1980s, odds are you already have an attorney profile floating around out there on your firm’s website.  As such, there’s little point in creating a LinkedIn profile with the exact same information.  Sure, you’ll want to include all the basics (professional summary, work history, education, areas of specialty, etc.), but LinkedIn allows you to do much more.  So let’s look at how you can get your LinkedIn profile to work for you.

Get Connected

As discussed in our first LinkedIn blog post, the key to networking via the service lies in a healthy connections pool.  Take advantage of the site’s ability to scour your email contacts to grow your connections (if you’d like a refresher on how to do this, just see our November 7th post below).  Again, make sure your connections represent your real world contacts – the caveat from our first LinkedIn blog still stands (i.e. don’t include weak contacts just to pad your numbers).

This means taking the time to reach out to past clients and colleagues, the effort will be well worth it as it will increase your exposure and your likelihood of turning up in searches.

It’s All In The Details

Focus on increasing the detail/content of your LinkedIn profile.  Use the “Summary” heading to highlight your areas of expertise as specifically as possible.  Most attorneys—if they’ve provided a summary at all—simply cut and paste the language from their company profile.  This is fine as a starting point, but consider adding more.  See this as an opportunity to talk to viewers of your profile.

Ask yourself this:  when someone sees my profile, does it clearly say what I’d like it to about myself and my practice?  Does your summary clearly state your areas of expertise, the industries in which you specialize or your representative clients and cases?  If not, take the time to include this information.  If you only gain one new client as a result, it will be time well spent.

Get Recommended

Remember, your goal is to create a professional and powerful presence via your LinkedIn profile.  Few things speak as loudly as a glowing recommendation from a past colleague or client.  As the service so often does, LinkedIn has made the process of requesting recommendations as painless as possible.

Simply click the “Ask for a recommendation” link near the top right corner of your profile homepage and, when prompted, enter the name of the connection to whom you’ll be sending the request (or simply choose your intended recipients from a list of your connections).  As is usually the case with this exceptionally user-friendly site, LinkedIn will walk you through all the necessary steps. The site even generates a few lines of suggested language to make the process that much easier.

Apply Yourself

LinkedIn offers a variety of applications that can be easily embedded into your personal profile.  Two apps of potential interest to attorneys are Lawyer Ratings and My Travel.

Lawyer Ratings is a LexisNexis plug-in that allows attorneys to crow about their Martindale-Hubbell reviews and ratings via a very official-looking little stamp.  It’s hardly revolutionary but it does prominently display that 4.9 out of 5 Client Review Rating of which you are so proud.  On a more practical note, it allows clients who have not yet rated you to do so with a single click right from your profile.

My Travel is a nifty little application that compares your upcoming business travel plans to those of your connections pool, alerting you when you’ll be in the same town at the same time as your colleagues.  The app will keep you on your peers’ radar and might even facilitate a sit-down with that potential client who never seems to be in their office.

Both apps can be found under the “More Tab” and among the dropdown items will be “More Applications” on your profile page.

Answer and You Shall Receive

A snappy profile with effusive recommendations will do you little good if no one sees it.  In addition to a healthy connections pool, another means of increasing your LinkedIn exposure and directing more traffic to your profile is to take part in LinkedIn Answers.  “Answers” is a knowledge exchange where users can post queries and have them answered by the service’s various members.  Questions range across a wide variety of substantive areas with virtually no professional topics excluded.

To find your way into Answers, just choose the “More” link at the top middle of your profile page.  First among the dropdown items will be “Answers.”

After navigating to the page choose “Law and Legal” from the right side column.

Once open, the Answers page will display a list of “open” questions, many of which may have already received answers but remain open nevertheless as their posters have yet to receive a response of sufficient clarity or specificity.

If you find an open question that you believe you can answer, simply click on the text of the inquiry.   It will deliver you to a page with a gold “Answer” button just below the full language of the original question.  Give it a click and proceed to share your expertise with the LinkedIn community—and, if you’re lucky, with a potential new client contact.

But be warned, all “experts” are not created equal and you may be somewhat underwhelmed by other answers you’re likely to see.  Remember, the Internet’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness:  everyone has access.  This is as true of the LinkedIn community as anywhere else.  The service does not vet the various “experts” nor must one be an attorney to answer “Law and Legal” questions.

This can be both a good and a bad thing.  The bad is probably obvious, but the good may not be.  While the idea of non-attorneys answering complex questions of law and policy probably doesn’t thrill you, the fact that anyone can answer often means that non-experts will address an inquiry by referring someone who is an expert and with whom they’ve had a positive experience.  If one of your friends, colleagues or clients stumbles across a legal question they can easily flag you as the right guy or gal to talk to and direct the poster to your LinkedIn page.

In any event, Answers is just another way to increase your LinkedIn exposure and connect with potential clients.  Like any tool for growing your business, whether you choose to use it—or any of the above suggestions—is entirely up to you.

Well, we don’t know about you but we think that’s more than enough LinkedIn for now.  We expect the service to become increasingly important and probably essential and we’re sure to return to the topic in the future but, for now, it’s time to move on.

What will next week’s topic be?  You’ll just have to tune in to find out.  Until then and as always, be well and work happy.