If you’ve been away from LinkedIn for a while, or have just changed jobs or focus, it might be time to check out the social networking site’s new features and update your profile. Why focus on LinkedIn? Survey after survey (including Attorney at Work’s own social media survey) show that’s where lawyers and general counsel go when they are focused on doing business, or learning about business.
Check Off the Experts’ Tips
Recently I listened in on CopyBlogger’s “Authority Master Class – LinkedIn Best Practices (and a Few Secrets)” with CopyBlogger CFO Sean Jackson and CMO (and copywriting guru) Sonia Simone. Here are some of their great tips for presenting your best business-minded self on LinkedIn.
1. Use the “Does this give me authority?” test. When updating your profile, look at the main areas — photo, headline, summary, jobs, education, activities — through the eyes of your clients and ask: Does this show integrity? Does it give me authority? Would I work with me — or even accept a connection request? Asking this while working through the various profile sections will help you decide which jobs, activities, publications and accolades to include. Tip: Don’t filter out all personal activities. You want to include alumni associations, professional organizations, boards and charities because it helps people find points of connection, says Jackson. “We like to do business with people we like, and we like them because they have similar experiences.”
2. Let’s talk about your headshot (again). If you don’t have a photo in your profile, or if it is outdated or inappropriate, it diminishes your ability to make connections and get the meeting. What happens when a distant acquaintance or unknown person sends you a connection request and you can’t see their face, or they are hiding behind their pet Pomeranian? You ignore them, most likely, because they don’t look credible. Tip: Your face — your 2015 face — should take up 80 percent of the photo. You want connections to be able to recognize you when you meet in real life.
3. Nail your headline. Does your “professional headline” (the words you add to the box just below your name) tell people — quickly and clearly — what you are doing today? Tip: People are too busy to translate “Chief Officer of Financial Happiness” or other cute titles — if you’re CFO, use CFO. If you can use a keyword that describes your practice, all the better. This is not the place to be clever, just clear. And considering how many people will look you up on a smartphone screen, keep it short. As Simone says, this is the one place where you really do want to “put yourself in a box.”
4. Sum it up. Too many of us simply regurgitate our resume in the “summary” section. To be fair, typing into that empty box is intimidating. But the typical resume is packed with industry jargon; it doesn’t effectively describe what you do — or why. Jackson advises using this space to answer the simple question: “Why do you do what you do?” While you ponder that, you might want to check this annual list of LinkedIn’s most overused profile words.
Here’s an important SEO tip: The summary is the only part of your profile Google is paying attention to. You could stuff your summary with keywords, but Jackson has a simpler trick to rise higher in search rankings: Use your full name, and use it often. That’s right: Replace all the “I’s” or “we’s” with your full name. It may seem awkward, but test it out. (You will care more about this if you have a common name, or share it with a more famous person and are tired of seeing that prima ballerina when Googling your own name.)
Of course, you do want to include the keywords that describe your specific areas of practice, too — just don’t overdo it. If your summary is filled with keyword nonsense, that’s what shows up when someone searches your name in Google.
Another tip: Never embellish your experience. Among all those connections, somebody’s going to know when you are exaggerating. Smart people have lost jobs over this one.
5. What have you written lately? The more you write, the more weight your profile has with viewers, and with LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes it easy to post updates and links to articles you’ve written, or any content you want to share. And, with its publishing platform, LinkedIn Pulse, you can write original posts here, too. (Click on the pencil icon in the “Publish a post?” box and a slick interface pops up. Just start typing and adding images.) Why is this powerful for you? It goes back to LinkedIn’s demographics — the people you want to do business with are here. When you start building a reputation for posting useful, authoritative content, they are more likely to make a real connection with you.
That said, don’t expect to write one or two things and build a big audience. Jackson estimates that it takes 20 posts a month to reach 60 percent of your audience. That’s a lot of writing. (Writing is hard.) Also, don’t abandon your own blog or website and use LinkedIn as your sole publishing platform, warns Jackson.
You never want to put all of your content on a third-party platform you don’t control.
Bonus Tip: Change These Settings Now
Sometimes social media can feel like a bad dream — the one where you walk into a meeting, or freshman year econ, without your pants on. On LinkedIn, a few simple settings changes will help you avoid showing your “bits” to the world. Tip: Click on your thumbnail photo on LinkedIn’s navigation bar to find the “Privacy & Settings” menu.
- Stop annoying people you are trying to impress. If you don’t want all of your connections to get a message every time you change a headline or add to your profile, turn OFF the “send bio updates” button.
- Shield your connections. Some people will connect with you simply to scope out your connections. (Shocking, really.) If you don’t lock them out in the “Who can see your connections” box, it’s open season on that network you’ve worked so tirelessly to build. Some say you should never, ever connect with your competitors, but that just doesn’t seem “social,” does it? If you accept their connection requests, limit who can see your connections to “only you.”
- Go into stealth mode. Pick either “Anonymous” or “Totally Anonymous” if you don’t want people to know you looked at their LinkedIn profile. Maybe you are extremely social and think it’s creepy to “lurk.” I just think it’s a matter of privacy — why make it any easier for LinkedIn or Google (or even you) to track what I’m clicking on?
This is just a snippet of the great advice you’ll find at CopyBlogger, one of our favorite content marketing sites. For more tips from the webinar, read Sean Jackson’s article “16 Smarter Ways to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Business.” Also, Allison Shields and Dennis Kennedy (authors of the American Bar Association’s “LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers”) have LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers over on the ABA TECHSHOW blog.
Finally, here’s a little secret from the editor’s desk. The first thing I do when presented with a new author or source is to type “Your Name LinkedIn” right into the Google search box. Before checking your website bio or any other directory listing. Assume that’s exactly what your prospective clients are doing, too. So, it’s worth a little time to keep your profile polished — and make a good showing (over that pesky ballerina) on Google searches for your own name.
Joan Feldman is Partner/Editorial at Attorney at Work and is seriously reconsidering her LinkedIn profile. Follow her on Twitter @JoanHFeldman.