In the past three months, my LinkedIn profile has been viewed 176 times. There was a big spike in traffic when I spoke at the Legal Marketing Association annual conference in March and a slightly smaller spike when I moderated an American Bar Association Women Rainmakers’ event on building buzz.
The people who view my profile include marketing professionals, paralegals, attorneys and corporate counsel. Of course, recruiters also view the profile and a few job offers have come my way through LinkedIn, too. My profile gives the opportunity to post not only my resume, but to focus (through the use of key words) on specific skills that I hope to use not only on a local or state-wide stage, but for a national audience, namely public speaking and writing.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or you haven’t maximized yours, now is the time to do so.
First, go to www.LinkedIn.com and set up your free account. Use your professional name. This is not the place to be anonymous and sign on as Camille S. Visit the LinkedIn Learning Center to learn about site features, access user guides and understand privacy settings.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is your professional bio, so you will want to provide much more access than you have on your personal social media channels such as your Facebook page. Also, in order to view certain information on other people’s profiles, you must allow that option to be viewed on your profile. For instance, if you do not allow access to your contacts, you will not be able to view other people’s contacts.
I suggest viewing the profiles of other legal professionals to pick up tips for effectively building your own.
Building Your Profile
Start with your title. If you view Lynne DeVenny’s profile, you’ll notice that in addition to her paralegal title, she includes her roles as co-host of The Paralegal Voice and a blogger at Practical Paralegalism. These are great ways for Lynne to promote herself and the skill sets she has developed over the years.
When you get to the summary section, remember every visitor is not going to read every word, so make sure to hit the highlights up front. Again, looking at Lynne DeVenny’s profile, in her summary she immediately identifies herself as N.C. State Bar certified, and in the second paragraph she mentions the book she co-authored on workers’ compensation.
Order of Profile
The first item on the profile is your “snapshot.” LinkedIn refers to this as your next-generation business card. Your snapshot includes your name, location, title, past positions, education, link to recommendations and links to your websites. This is also where your photo appears. Make sure to include a professional-quality photo or, if you are using a personal photo, make sure it resembles a headshot.
Also in the snapshot, you can personalize your firm or company website (instructions are in the Learning Center) and customize links to your blog or other social media accounts. You can also customize your public profile link. When you use a search engine to find an individual without a customized profile, it will look something like this: linkedin/pub/johndoe/23/a/221. Click on the edit button next to the public profile to change the link to include just your name. It will then appear like this: linkedin.com/in.camillestell.
Some of the items in the profile can be re-ordered. If you visit Vicki Voisin’s profile, you will notice that beneath her snapshot, instead of experience, which typically follows, she has links to her blog. Edit the order of your profile to your advantage.
LinkedIn groups provide a way for professionals to participate in conversations and happenings within their industry. I have joined alumnae groups, industry groups and special interest groups. Check out KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals, or some of the many law office management groups that share great articles and resources.
LinkedIn suggests you use the summary to provide a 30-second description of who you are and what do you. I have used the summary for more than 30 seconds of information, but I did highlight recent accomplishments at the top. Then I provided my “elevator speech” who I am and what I do in one sentence. After my elevator speech, I described my work experience in more detail. The specialties field allows you to list your areas of expertise. Here you want to use keywords rather than a narrative.
You can list your past jobs under the experience area. This is also a great place to include your professional association work, along with any awards or honors you have received.
Seek recommendations from people you work with, unless your firm or company has a policy that prohibits providing recommendations, as well as references outside your firm. You also can seek recommendations from your paralegal instructors, past employers, co-counsel or opposing counsel who respect your work, paralegals and other legal professionals you have worked with on community or professional association work.
Finally, a few suggestions. Don’t use LinkedIn to solicit business or services. This is not a sales site. Make frequent updates to your profile so that it stays fresh. You can share and receive updates when you make profile changes, which keeps you connected to your network on a regular basis. Look to make connections outside your immediate circle of paralegal friends use LinkedIn to expand your circle of influence and build your network. Click on the “who’s viewed your profile” box on the right side of the page and see who is looking at your profile. If some follow-up would be beneficial, reach out to them.
Work on building your connections. Under the “contacts” tab, there is a tab “people you may know.” If you already know the connection, feel free to reach out by clicking on “connect.” The invitation will automatically populate by saying “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” Take a moment to personalize the message. Say hello or remind the connection how you know one another.
If there is someone you want to know, visit their profile and on the right side of their snapshot you’ll see an option to get introduced through a connection. When you click on this option, all of your common connections appear and you can ask someone to make an electronic introduction.
Social media isn’t going away. LinkedIn is a great way to enter the conversation.
What’s on your mind or being discussed at your water cooler? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share ideas or suggestions for future columns or share your favorite legal blog.
Camille Stell is the Director of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Recently selected as a Lawyers Weekly 2011 “Leaders in the Law” award recipient, Camille has more than 20 years of experience in the legal field, as a paralegal, legal recruiter and business developer.