Adapted and excerpted from LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers by Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields.
Your firm or personal Web site is your “home base” online, and your Profile is your “home base” on LinkedIn. Your Profile is where people go to find out information about you, and it is where much of your LinkedIn content resides. You can also think of your Profile as an online “living” resume or biography.
Building Your Initial Profile
When you set up your account, LinkedIn will automatically get you started on your professional Profile. The first few screens you encounter after you set up your account will ask questions about your current employment, which is automatically transferred to your Profile. However, the initial information you enter when you set up your LinkedIn account is just the first step in creating a complete LinkedIn Profile. In this Lesson, we will take you through the rest of the steps to compile your Profile.
To fully complete your Profile, you must go to the “Edit Profile” button located under the Profile tab on the main navigation bar.
You can input Profile information by hand, but LinkedIn also offers a great way to automate the process. If you have a resume readily available, LinkedIn allows you to upload it, which makes building your Profile a bit faster. Simply click on the “Import your resume” button, find the document on your computer, and follow the directions to upload it. LinkedIn will import the information from your resume and populate the appropriate fields on your Profile. The fields are fully editable so that you can pick and choose which information you want to include.
Once uploaded, LinkedIn will request that you review the information before it is published to your LinkedIn Profile. Even if the information appears correct, we recommend that you click on “Edit” so that you can revise or update as necessary for the LinkedIn audience. Click on “Save Changes,” and the information will be published to your LinkedIn Profile.
Editing Your Profile
To edit your Profile once you have registered for your account and input the initial Profile information (or uploaded your resume), click on “Edit Profile” and then look for the small “Edit” buttons.
Your photograph is an important part of your LinkedIn Profile. Professional photographs are preferable, but do not wait until you have time to get around to having a professional photograph taken. It is perfectly acceptable to use a high-quality digital photograph from your own digital camera or a cropped family or personal photograph of your face— so long as it looks professional and presents you well. Why is your photograph important?
- People may recognize your face before they remember your name
- Many people use LinkedIn to prepare for a meeting; having a photograph
- on LinkedIn makes you easier to recognize
- People do business with people they know, like, and trust; posting
- a photograph helps your audience feel that they “know” you
Click on the “Add Photo” button and upload the photograph from your computer, or to upload a new photograph in place of your old one, click on “Edit Photo” under your picture.
Make it easier to find, advertise, and share your LinkedIn Profile. Edit the “public Profile link” generated when you create your Profile. It looks something like this: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/johnsmith/26/4a1/114.
Get rid of the random numbers and letters to customize the link to include just your name, a keyword or two, or your name and firm name by clicking on “Edit” next to your public Profile link.
LinkedIn allows three links in the Profile. You can link to your Web site, blog, firm bio, etc. Use all three opportunities, but do not use LinkedIn’s default settings for the link titles (e.g., “Company Website”). Customize the link titles by clicking “Edit” next to them on the Edit Profile screen. Choose “other” in the first box and create your own name for the link. Use keywords or the actual name of your firm or site. If you have only one law firm Web site, use one to link to your firm Web site’s home page and one to link to your individual biography on the firm site. Use the third to link to another profile of you on the Internet, your blog, or the firm page for your practice group.
Your professional headline is a one-line description that often accompanies your name when you interact on LinkedIn. The professional headline field defaults to your current title. You can change this to make it much more descriptive and useful by clicking “Edit” next to your name.
Instead of just your title or insider firm descriptions (“associate” or “partner”), use all of the 120 characters allotted in the Professional Headline field and provide information helpful to someone outside your firm. Describe your practice area, your clients, or your services and make sure you use “lawyer” or “attorney” in your description for those all-important search results.
Next is the “Summary” field, which consists of two separate sections. “Professional Experience and Goals” allows 2,000 characters (approximately 330 words) of description. This field appears at the top of the Profile. Because your summary often is read more than the description under your current position, do not overlook it. Describe what you do. Make it interesting. Consider it a chance to give your “elevator pitch.”
“Specialties” is a shorter section (256 total characters), usually written with keywords rather than in narrative format (think one- to three-word bullet points rather than longer descriptive sentences). If you are concerned about ethical prohibitions against lawyers identifying themselves as “specialists” in a particular field, include a disclaimer indicating that rather than specialties, you have listed your practice areas instead. (We discuss the “specialties” issue further in the ethics discussion in the Advanced Topics section.)
Positions display in your Profile under “Experience” in reverse chronological order. List all of your relevant past and present experience and positions, including the name of the company or firm for which you worked, the dates you worked there, your title, and a description of what you did. Use keywords that are important to and recognizable by your target audience. Include important experience or skills that help to differentiate you from other lawyers in your field. You have 1,000 characters to describe each position. Be complete in adding all of your previous positions. We will discuss in Lesson 4 how LinkedIn uses this information to help you connect to current and former colleagues.
You may list bar association or other community positions (such as board service, etc.) here, too. Listing these activities helps others find you when they search for the organization name and makes it easier to invite others associated with that organization to connect.
Be aware that LinkedIn will list your positions in reverse chronological order and this cannot be changed. This may result in bar or other volunteer positions appearing ahead of your law practice. Alternatively, you may choose to list these positions under “Groups and Associations” in the “Additional Information” section or in the optional “Organizations” section.
School alumni can be valuable contacts, as we discuss in Lesson 4. Include your educational information, both for your law school and for any undergraduate or other post-secondary education.
Making Your Profile Complete
As you build your LinkedIn Profile, you will see a “completeness bar” on the right side of the screen that measures how complete your Profile is. Your goal is a Profile that is considered “100% complete.”
LinkedIn considers your Profile “100% complete” when it contains:
- Your current position
- Two past positions
- Your education
- Your Profile summary
- Your Profile photo
- Your specialties (remember to consider the ethical issues discussed in the Advanced Topics section of this book)
- At least three recommendations (we will cover Recommendations in Lesson 8 and ethical considerations relating to Recommendations in the Advanced Topics section of this book)
We recommend that you spend some time completing your Profile, but it does not need to be done in one sitting. If you commit to spending only fifteen minutes or so per day to completing the basic sections of your Profile mentioned in this Lesson, you will have a completed Profile in a few days without feeling overwhelmed. If you begin by importing your current resume, the process can be completed quickly.
For more LinkedIn tips and strategies, order LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers by Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields today!