After the inevitable January “fresh start” updates, many people leave their LinkedIn alone the rest of the year. If you’re a savvy social media user, you update your profile every three months with new pro bono work, awards and cases. If you haven’t refreshed your profile yet this year—hate to break it to you, but—you’re behind.
General counsel may not post much on LinkedIn, or like or comment, but they are there. Data confirms that for a growing number of in-house attorneys, LinkedIn is the first place they look to learn about you. That means a well-curated profile is vitally important.
Unlike your bio on your law firm’s website, you have complete control over your profile. This means you can describe your expertise, highlight the bits you want, the way you want, and update it as often as you need. Use the following as a guide.
First, add a current photo, especially if your photo is 4-5 years old. Don’t be that person who is unrecognizable at a conference or when you meet a client face-to-face. Make it a professional photo; don’t rely on a selfie. Only 2% of your peers (given that you have 1K+ contacts) can make a Viking costume work.
Make the most of your descriptor. Use the summary of your profile to its greatest extent. Unlike your law firm bio, which is written in the third person, you can use the first person on LinkedIn, and talk about your goals, passions and professional aims. Adopt an authentic tone that lets your personality come through. Law firm bios typically don’t allow for an inviting or conversational tone. Here’s your chance to leverage that.
List each law firm separately and use their logo. Under each firm list your top engagements. Feel free to add narrative. The case was out with the jury for only 45 minutes. The verdict came in under/over the settlement offer. Your team was chosen after 10 firms were interviewed. The case settled after your cross of the other side’s expert. Think of setting, character, conflict, resolution. What part did you play?
Add new skills so you can be endorsed for what you do best. If you haven’t yet put “legal research” down, start with that. And specifically ask trusted peers for endorsements of specific skills you’d like to promote.
Regularly ask for recommendations from peers and clients. Have at least one for each firm where you’ve worked, and ideally for each few years of your career. You can always decline to publish it if it’s not exactly what you want. And don’t be afraid to ask opposing counsel or co-counsel with which you have a friendly professional relationship to recommend you. Nothing speaks louder than being called a worthy opponent.
The trend on LinkedIn is to move toward a conversational tone, rather than the formal tone of a resume or CV. Use that to your advantage and craft your personal narrative. Look at the profiles of both respected peers and formidable adversaries. What are they saying about themselves? Where do you want to fit in?