Maybe it feels fake to you, or you don’t know what to say. You don’t want to be bragging on yourself, or maybe you feel there’s nothing to brag about. Maybe you set up an account the last time you looked for a job and haven’t done much of anything since. Maybe you’ve been thinking you should up your LinkedIn game but aren’t sure how.
You’ve got stuff to do. Social media is not your thing. I get it. But consider this….
What if someone you knew, your own private PR whiz, was constantly reminding people you know — and the people they know — about your skills and expertise, recent developments in your career, and some of the many ways you can help them? And reminding people you met three years ago at a conference what you look like and what you do? What if, with minimal effort, you could make your friends feel good about themselves and remind them — even if you haven’t seen or spoken with them for months or years — that you care about their success?
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have someone subtly reminding your professional contacts — including potential employers, clients, referral sources, and leaders looking for speakers on panels — who you are, what you look like, and what you do?
And what if this personal PR whiz of yours did it all for free — all day every day, whether you’re working, sleeping, vacationing, or watching TV?
Business development and career progression are both long term plays. Rather than having to seek out opportunities, LinkedIn brings the opportunities to you by allowing you to maintain contact and increase your visibility not only with your own connections, but the connections of your connections.
My unscientific survey of LinkedIn shows that most lawyer postings are either,
- I got this award or speaking role, or new job or board position, or
- My law firm or I wrote this article.
If you decide to do these types of posts, my two cents is that if you can have someone else — your law firm marketing department, a partner, or a friend — post about your accomplishments, it’s more powerful than if you do it yourself. Every chance I get, I try to do this for my own friends and colleagues. And if you post an article you wrote, don’t just say “I wrote this article on X,” but rather pull out a few key bullets to put in the cover post so that readers will want to click into the article.
If posting about yourself isn’t your thing, here are three other types of posts you might feel are closer to your comfort zone — all of which can help you up your LinkedIn game:
- I came across this really helpful article or video and wanted to share,
- Here’s a helpful perspective about work, life, service, or the human condition, or
- My friend is awesome and here’s why.
The first is the easiest, and a really good way to get started. Let’s say you come across an insightful article on Above The Law. You can post an article to LinkedIn directly from most websites by clicking on the little LinkedIn icon at the top or bottom of the article. But don’t just post the content; say what you think is the most valuable, or surprising, or quotable take-away. Provide a two or three sentence executive summary. If you do this consistently on a particular subject or range of subjects, you start to “build your brand” as someone knowledgeable in that area. My friends Sonia Ramirez Anderson and Daveante Jones — young, dynamic, and gifted employment lawyers in Denver, Colorado, and Little Rock, Arkansas, respectively—do these better than most.
The second type, the “helpful perspective,” can often be about topics like leadership, work and life hacks, or overcoming challenges. Generally, this is called “creating content,” and it’s the gold standard of LinkedIn activity. You’re sharing your experience, expertise, or personal story in a way that others may find helpful. These are usually a few paragraphs of tight writing or readily digestible bullet lists. Some of the best are from Olga Mack, Alex Su, and Grissel Seijo.
One of my friends, Komal Chokshi, posts only occasionally — but when she does, it’s powerful stuff on legal diversity with a view from the trenches. I did a few of these at the start of the pandemic based on conversations I had with young lawyers I mentor who were going through tough times. I thought the key points of our conversations were worth repeating to my larger network, so I shared via LinkedIn by posting here and here. And some people write what I call fortune-cookie wisdom: really short posts that are usually the type of succinct aphorism or truism you might find in a book of quotations. Those posts tend to get a lot of likes and comments, so apparently there’s a demand and appreciation for them.
The third type is my personal favorite: celebrating the success of my friends. If one of my friends or lawyers I mentor is elected to a board position, or kills it as a conference speaker, or wins a trial, or is awarded some recognition, I want to post about it and celebrate my friend. Many of Maritza Gomez’s posts are like this, celebrating the successes of her friends. Rippi Karda, an in-house lawyer, has started regularly posting short plugs for women of color attorneys in her network. It’s really powerful stuff because she’s using her platform to promote other women-of-color attorneys. I can’t speak to Rippi’s motivation, but the way I see it, she’s not only helping all these amazing women build their profiles, she’s elevating her own profile as someone who is thoughtful, gracious, well-connected, and powerful. Who wouldn’t want that as their personal brand?
LinkedIn power-users like Julie Savarino and Meyling Ly Ortiz do all of the above. They post awesome original content, they curate insightful material developed by their networks and major publications, and they routinely celebrate the successes of their connections.
You don’t have that kind of time? Well, if you set aside 20 solid minutes once a week to post on LinkedIn, that’s a good start.
Support Your Friends & Connections
Now let’s talk about “Likes” and “Comments.” Imagine a points system for LinkedIn, with more points meaning more benefit both for you and for your LinkedIn network. Liking someone’s post earns you 1 point. The person who made the post will appreciate that you saw and Liked it because your Like means more people will see it in their feed; you benefit because the original poster appreciates your support in spreading the word. Commenting earns you 10 points, because you are adding to the discussion (and providing a greater boost to the original post because the LinkedIn gods favor posts that spur discussion) and people will see what you had to say, getting your name, title, and face into more feeds.
Liking and Commenting is really important to supporting your friends, as well as those professional connections with whom you want to build relationships. Let’s say your friend (or professional connection) posts that he was named to a Top 40 Under 40 list. Your friend is proud of this accomplishment. But no one Likes or Comments on his post, except maybe his sister. Well, now your friend is miserable and, more importantly, because no one says anything about his post, the LinkedIn gods stop putting it into people’s feeds so no one sees it. He was proud to post his accomplishment, and now it’s being ignored. But when you Comment on your friend’s post, it gets into the feeds of more people, so more people see it.
The more Comments on a post, the more LinkedIn moves that post up in others’ feeds. By Liking and Commenting on your friend’s post, you are supporting your friend, elevating his post, and letting him know you care. By reading it and doing nothing before moving on to the next one in your feed, you’re kinda being a jerk. So support your friends!
How do you find time for that? You can scroll through your LinkedIn feed on your phone while you’re waiting for your computer to boot up, or your coffee to brew, or during the commercials when you’re watching TV. It’s so easy to work into the creases of your day that you don’t lose any time at all.
Just make it a habit: scroll through till you see that a friend posted something, Like it, and then Comment. What you are doing is supporting your friends at the same time you are reminding your professional network that you are out there. That’s especially important during the Pandemic when we can’t physically go to conferences and lunches and other professional activities to interact in person outside our direct orbits.
Build your brand with a better LinkedIn profile
Finally, let’s talk about your LinkedIn profile. Odds are, it sucks. If your profile simply lists where you went to school and where you’ve worked, it’s operating at a fraction of capacity. Whether you are a seasoned legal pro or just entering the profession, your profile should tell people who you are and what you’re about, not just recite your resume. Recruiters, professional conference chairs, hiring managers, and clients all go FIRST to someone’s LinkedIn profile to form an initial impression.
Take a look at Mariame Dangnokho’s LinkedIn profile. Mariame is still in law school, but her profile tells you her career objectives and approach. She provides a window into what’s important to her in the About section, and uses the Featured section to highlight a few posts she wants viewers to see. In other words, she’s already building her professional brand. If a law student can do this effectively, professionally, and gracefully, so can you. For someone who’s established himself in his career, look at Dino Bovell’s profile. He gives you a clear idea of his strengths, experience, and interests in his About section, communicated in a narrative that would not be possible in a resume.
So, What Are You Waiting For?
Update your profile. Like (1 pt.), Comment (10 pts.) and Post (50+ pts.).
You can start by commenting on the LinkedIn post where I shared this blog. Why?
Because more of your friends will see it and hopefully pick up a nugget they can use, because my friends will see that you are supporting my efforts to be of service, and because by lifting one another, we all rise.
See you on LinkedIn!