Here on Zen, I talk a lot about why I love social media, and how I think it can be useful to lawyers and law firms. Now that I’ve got you all convinced, I realize that not everyone knows how or where to start. I’ve talked about some of the basic principles of using these tools – engage, don’t broadcast; give yourself a small window of time to use them each day, etc – but not the how-to of using them. So I’m going to be doing a series of social media tutorials over the next several weeks to get you started, and I’m beginning with LinkedIn.
To me, LinkedIn is the most useful social media platform for lawyers, if for no other reason than it’s considered the most professional. Because of that, most of your clients will be there, so you should be too.
Here’s a quick note – there is a LOT of information in this post, but don’t be alarmed. It will take you less time to complete your profile than it will to read through this post!
It’s likely that the majority of you will already have a LinkedIn profile set up, but since it’s possible that you don’t, we”ll start at the beginning.
To create a profile, go first to www.linkedin.com. You’ll see a screen like this:
Once you put your personal information in, you’re taken to the first page to get your professional profile started. It looks like this:
This is where you will enter the information about your current position, if you’re employed, the industry you’re seeking work in if you’re not employed, or whether you’re a student, business owner or working independently. For the sake of this post, we’ll add the current position as if you’re employed.
You’ll include your employment status, country, zip code, the company you work for and your job title. When you start to type in your company name, a list of similar companies will start to appear below, based on the letters you’re typing. Many law firms and companies are already listed in LinkedIn (they have their own company pages, which are similar to individual profile pages, but for companies). If you see your firm, you can select it – it will look like this:
Then, add your job title and hit "create my profile."
The next screen tells you that searching your email contacts is the easiest way to find people that you know. This works a little differently for non-web based email accounts (if you’re using Outlook to get your email, this is generally not for a web-based account), which will generally be true of your professional email accounts. If you have your contacts in Yahoo! or Gmail, feel free to log in here so that LinkedIn can search for who you might want to connect to on LinkedIn. Otherwise, we’ll talk later about how you can add your contacts.
You also have the option to "Skip this step" and you can add contacts later.
However, you may want to go ahead and complete this step if you have contacts in other email databases – for example, since I use my Gmail for Google+ (more on this in much later posts), I have a number of contacts that would come up. If LinkedIn finds contacts for you through your email address, it will appear like this:
Each contact has a check box next to their name – if you’d like to connect to them, you can click the check box and click "Add Connection(s)." You also have the option of skipping this step and adding connections later. LinkedIn defaults to selecting everyone that you may know on LinkedIn – you can either uncheck these individually if you don’t want to connect to all of them by clicking on the boxes, or click the box at the top that says "select all."
Let’s say that you do want to add a connection from this list. You select the check box, and hit "Add Connection(s)." LinkedIn will automatically send that person an invitation. For this reason, you may want to consider skipping this step initially because once you have your profile created, LinkedIn allows you to customize the invitation emails you send out to possible connections. Personalizing them is always a good idea, since it allows you to reference how you know the person, and why you may want to connect with them. This serves two purposes – it reminds them how you know each other, in case it’s not someone who is a good friend, and it gives them the chance to engage with you in response, which is the point behind social networking.
LinkedIn will next suggest that you invite anyone in your email database whose email address is not registered with them to join. That screen looks like this:
Again, you can either invite some of them to join LinkedIn and be connected to you, or you can skip this step.
Once you’ve done that, LinkedIn will suggest some possible connections for you, based on your profile, the addresses you’ve uploaded from your email, and who you’re already connected to. This is one of the greatest benefits of LinkedIn on an ongoing basis – they do the work of identifying who you might want to connect to, so you don’t have to.
From this list, you can either select those you would like to connect to, or skip this step. If you select someone from this list to connect to, an invitation will automatically be sent from LinkedIn. This is another case where you may want to skip this step and invite the person to connect later, so that you can personalize the invitation.
The next step allows you to manually input email addresses of those you might want to connect to who didn’t appear in any of the previous screens. Here, I would suggest skipping this step – it’s time consuming to add in individual email addresses, and LinkedIn is going to send their standard invitation. If you’re going to be adding clients to your list of contacts, it’s worth the time to craft individual invitations. We’ll talk more about this later.
Once you click "Skip this Step" or invite some additional people to connect with you, your account is set up. LinkedIn then wants to know whether you want a basic free account, or a premium account. They explain the benefits of each on this screen:
I’ve used LinkedIn for almost 10 years (yes, really!) and I’ve always had a basic account. My recommendation is to start with this and build your profile, and if you find yourself needing some of the additional functionality, you can upgrade at that point.
To find out what each of the above features entail, you can mouse over (technical term for putting your mouse pointer over the line) and a small box will appear with an explanation.
I chose the basic free account, and LinkedIn took me to my new home page!
This is what your home page will look like any time you sign into LinkedIn from now on. We’ll go through the individual points of the home page in a later post, but this is a peek to give you an idea.
Although your basic profile is created, I want to go through a few other things you should do when you first set up your account to flesh out your profile a bit. We’ll go into this in more depth in my next post, but if you’re going to invite people to connect with you, there are some essential things to do initially.
To edit your profile – you’ll see that at the top of the page, under where it says "LinkedIn" and your account type, there is a menu bar:
The only menu item you need to focus on for now is "Profile." Mouse over the world profile, and another menu will pop up:
Select the first item in the menu, "Edit Profile." You’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:
As you can see, the initial profile is very basic, and there’s a lot of information you can add to make it more complete. On the right hand side, there’s a progress bar that shows how complete your profile is:
After the first six steps that we went through above, your profile is only 25% complete – there’s still some work left to do!
Now, there’s a LOT you can do to finalize your profile. But in this post, I just want to go through the few additional things that I want you to do to get it in good shape in your first go around – I know lawyers are busy people, and you don’t want to sit down for an hour and work on your LinkedIn profile. It does require some investment of time, but you can work on it in stages. However, in the first stage, you want to:
- Upload a profile photo: This is essential – social networking is about being, well, social. People want to know who you are, and one of the best ways to show them that is by adding a photo.
On your profile editing page, click "+ Add Photo" underneath the blank image:
You’ll be taken to this screen:
Here, choose a file that you’d like to upload for your photo – since LinkedIn is the more professional of the social networking sites, I’d recommend using your firm website photo -however, I say this with a caveat. Your photo should preferably be taken within the last year. Older photos will confuse people when you meet them in person (much like online dating). And you will meet them in person, since the goal of social networking is to take these relationships offline.
Click "Choose File" and browse to the location where you have the photo that you’d like to use. Then, click "Upload Photo" to make the photo your profile picture. You’ll get a pop up screen that looks like this:
This screen allows you to crop your photo to LinkedIn’s pre-set square. There’s a preview at the top so you can see how the final photo will look. Once you have the photo set to your preference, click "Save Photo" to set your profile picture.
Once you have a profile picture saved, you will have the option to identify how visible you would like the photo to be. In addition to those users you send a message to, your profile photo can be visible to your connections, your network, or everyone.
To differentiate – your "connections" are those people that you have invited, or accepted invitations from, directly. Your "network" are your connections, plus any second or third degree connections – for LinkedIn, these are connections of your connections (2nd degree), and connections of your connections’ connections (3rd degree – confused yet?).
From my perspective, there’s no reason to change from the default, which is "everyone." Since you’re using the site for networking purposes, you should want everyone to be able to see who you are.
But if you want to change to one of the other selections, you can click on a radio button (the small round circles) and then hit "Save Settings." This will take you back to editing your profile page. Adding a photo bumps you up to 30% completeness.
- Fill in the easy stuff: It will take some time for you to create your profile summary, add your education and past positions and connect to others, but in the meantime, you can add some of the quicker information that is just as essential:
- Add a website: If you write a blog, or just want to include your firm’s website, you can click on this link:
It will take you to this page, that allows you to add additional information in one quick save:
For example, I filled this in and it looks like this:
Then I choose "Save Changes" and am taken back to the edit profile page.
- Personal Information: In order to give people a way to contact you, it’s a good idea to update your personal information right away.
Click "Edit" to update it all at once. You can include whatever you’d like in here, and exclude whatever you’re not comfortable sharing – it’s up to you. When I complete it, it looks like this:
Click "Save Changes" to save your changes and be taken back to the edit page.
- Add a website: If you write a blog, or just want to include your firm’s website, you can click on this link:
As you can see from the Edit Profile page, there is a LOT more information that you can add to finish your profile. We’ll go into this in more detail in the next post, including how you can simplify the process by uploading your resume, whether you want to create a profile in another language as well, and how to end up with a complete profile.
If you have any questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below, or feel free to contact me directly.