Attorneys often ask why they need a LinkedIn profile. The answer is simple: for business development purposes and for attracting potential employers or recruiters. You may think a LinkedIn profile is unnecessary, however, investing an hour of your time in creating a strong profile may result in finding a life changing opportunity or connection. As the saying goes “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. A LinkedIn profile may not necessarily result in a homerun, but without one, you may be taking yourself out of the lineup altogether.
LinkedIn can help you to keep track of where your colleagues have gone. That is where potential business development is easy. Knowing where colleagues or classmates have gone is also helpful when you are considering a transition. Waiting to create your profile when you get to that point is not advisable. Build your profile now and start making those connections so that when you are ready to make a transition, you have a strong network through which your next opportunity can be found. Connections are key to being seen by potential employers and potential clients.
LinkedIn provides a platform where you can search for and apply to open positions without having to sift through vague or irrelevant job postings on a traditional job board. Not only do employers and recruiters frequently post job openings to LinkedIn, but they also search for potential matches for those positions on LinkedIn as well. Having a LinkedIn profile can result in being considered for a job without even applying. Potential clients and customers may also find you through a LinkedIn profile search.
Having a LinkedIn profile makes you more easily accessible and enables recruiters, potential clients, and network members to reach you when they are interested. Recruiters and potential clients, in particular, are always in a hurry. Often, if they can’t quickly and easily contact you, they’ll move on and you’ll have missed out on an opportunity you didn’t even know you had.
Simply having a basic LinkedIn profile, however, is not enough. Your profile should be a shortened version of your resume that highlights your skills and illustrates your career and educational background. Using the right keywords on your profile is also important as that will dictate what searches your profile will be included in. Think of it this way, if you were searching for someone who had the same skills and experience as you, what words would you use to search? It is important to include keywords that refer to a practice area or industry that you are experienced and interested in. However, be sure to leave out any confidential information regarding your employment as anyone with a LinkedIn account will be able to see anything that is included in your profile.
A few more items to include on your profile:
- A current professional photo makes your profile more visible in search results.
- Contact information
- Simple, but professional email address (i.e. email@example.com as opposed to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Do not include your work phone or cell number
- Consider utilizing a free service such as Google Voice which provides a phone number that you can forward to any phone or email address
- Skills and Endorsements
- Links to any articles you may have written or other published works
- Include the zip code of the city where you work or wish to work (if you are planning a move) in the Location field
Once you have your profile completed, it is important that you visit the site frequently to check for any notifications and to see what updates your colleagues are sharing. Commenting on or sharing articles is a good way to stay visible, as long as the articles you share are from a trustworthy source and your comments are professional and appropriate. The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to be found in search results. However, be mindful not to share articles that are not relevant to your profession or industry and try to keep your updates professional in nature rather than personal. Frivolous or personal updates are more appropriate for other social media sites. It is also imperative that you review any posts or comments for grammatical errors. Misspelled or misused words stand out and reflect poorly on one’s writing skills. Stay away from negative posts and do not engage in argumentative confrontation with other users so as not to look unprofessional or petty.
Be sure to make meaningful connections on LinkedIn. Sending connection requests to people at random is not the best use of the site. Connect with former and current colleagues, people you have met through work or professional networks or people with whom you have a shared connection. You will likely receive connection requests from people you’ve never heard of or met, but making meaningful connections is more likely to produce the result you are looking for. Building a solid network of connections is the best way to increase your visibility and boost your chances of being found in a search.
Whether we like it or not, social media sites have become a major part of our everyday lives. Although it seems like creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile is just one more item on the ever-expanding to-do list, it can be a powerful tool that produces incredibly beneficial results. Taking the time to understand how to utilize your profile can result in useful connections and amazing opportunities.