We’re kicking off a new feature today here on Zen – Two for Tuesdays! I’ve given myself the assignment of sticking to an editorial calendar for the blog this year (everyone get excited!) and one of the regular posts I’d like to contribute is this one, which will cover two quick tips that you can implement today on a range of subjects.

Today’s topic is one of my favorites – LinkedIn. It’s changed a lot in the last year, and continues to grow in importance for online networking (and to use to facilitate offline networking). My two tips involve recommendations for your LinkedIn profile: 

  • Make your Professional Headline more descriptive: So many professional headlines that I see (this is taken from your job title when you create your profile, but can be edited separately) are not at all descriptive. In some positions, that’s fine – your job title tells the story. But for lawyers, either having "partner at xyz firm" or "shareholder at xyz firm" or some other iteration of this doesn’t tell anyone anything about you. 

    Let’s be honest – we’re all busy people, and unless something catches our attention in a way that tells us why it matters to us, we’re not going to look further. So if potential contacts (or even existing contacts) glance across your name and professional headline quickly, and all it tells them is that you’re an attorney, they’re not going to look any further to do the work of finding out what area you practice in. 

    How much better would it be if your professional headline read instead something like "Co-Chair, Intellectual Property Litigation at xyz firm" or "Leader of the Labor & Employment Law Practice Group at xyz firm"? If you’ve been reading Zen for a while, you know that I’ve mentioned this before…multiple times. But as I took a quick look through my contacts list on LinkedIn this morning, about 90% of my legal connections had "partner" or "lawyer" as their listed job title. Differentiate yourself by telling people why to connect with you and why to look further. It takes two minutes to make the change to your profile, so do it today. 

  • Make it more visual: Although I consider my LinkedIn profile to be fairly advanced, I recently had the opportunity to look at a friend’s profile, and realized that it looked so much more interesting and professional than mine. Why? Because she had added recent articles that she’d authored, which made it far more visual. 

    One of the recent changes to LinkedIn is the ability to add links and files, both to your summary (shown at the top of your profile) and to your individual positions. This took me a little bit more time, but it was worth the investment – I spent a little bit of time adding some of my recent blog posts (which all have catchy images included as part of them, thus making the profile more visual as well), I added representative images for some of the projects I’ve worked on, and even a link to a YouTube recording of a webinar presentation I gave to one of our firms. 

    It has two benefits – first, that it makes my profile look more complete and interesting. Visual impact is hugely important, and when you can add something to your profile to break up the text (making it easier to read) and showing concretely what you’re about, the benefits are huge. Secondarily, and more importantly, you’re giving people something to click on and interact with – it’s a motivation to learn more about you, and a benefit of visiting your profile. It’s another way to make your profile well-rounded, and more than just a static description of who you are. 

    For attorneys, while you may not want to include too much about individual cases for confidentiality reasons, you can share things such as blog posts that you’ve written (for your own blog, or if you’ve guest posted somewhere else), articles that you’ve written (you have the ability to share both links and individual files, so a PDF copy of an article is perfectly fine), recordings of presentations you’ve done, or images from speaking opportunities, etc. Look at the work that you’ve done in terms of business development, and see what you can repurpose – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but see what you can leverage. 

Please let me know in the comments what other types of tips you’d like to see – I’m happy to speak about anything I have experience with, and bring in others to speak about things I don’t!