The core objectives for lawyers on LinkedIn are to raise visibility, position expertise and influence to inspire new business, staff and networks. The LinkedIn pie of opportunity is available to all with the right starting point, writes Sue Parker.
And that starting point is wedded in the brilliant courtroom scene from the Australian 1997 classic The Castle. When Dennis Denuto delivers his closing summary to the unimpressed federal judge he bumbles through Mabo and the constitution to settle on “that it, it’s the vibe of the thing, it’s the vibe’
Your vibe starts the moment eyeballs land on your profile or content. Everything you write, allude to and share builds a perception of your brand and vibe. And poor ole Dennis Denuto’s vibe was of professional incompetence but personal decency.
Irrespective of the area of law, new clients seek a rounded mix. They seek professional comfort and assurance of diligence, fairness and high competency. And they seek personal rapport and a communication style that resonate. In several speciality areas, shared values and empathy hold significant weight.
Further, in the war of talent attraction, ethics and values are paramount, especially for smaller firms competing with the big end of town.
You cannot be everything to everyone and not everyone will resonate with you. Whether a personal injury, litigation, commercial, family or IP lawyer the same principles apply to gaining traction as your vibe will attract your tribe.
Water finds its own level
It’s futile to compare yourself with others on LinkedIn. No other legal professional will do exactly what you do in the same way you do it. Water will find its own level. Being willing to own and communicate the best version of yourself is essential.
Rhetoric must meet reality and your vibe must be congruent with how you show up in the flesh, email, Zoom or phone interactions. In metaphorical terms from Darryl Kerrigan, you want your vibe and brand to “go straight to the pool room”.
All roads lead to LinkedIn
Many roads lead to LinkedIn. Firstly, a Google name search will rank your LinkedIn profile high on the front page. When prospects research your details, they will come to LinkedIn to gain more information than is available on a website and social proof.
Secondly, the platform is a powerful search engine driven from keywords (more on that later). These keywords are also relevant to names, topics and content. Engagement on content also will drive eyeballs to your profile. Company page searches have a detailed people section to reference back to your profile. So many roads to your profile along with direct searches of your name.
What’s your vibe?
So, what do people sense when landing on your profile and content? What sort of vibe flows with gusto or barely trickles with dearth?
Taking a brave no holds reflection on your character and personality, expertise, values and visions is the first step in connecting and sharing that vibe. Are you quirky, humorous, solemn, no fuss? How does your work style serve clients? What can clients expect from you? What makes you really unique?
What is the image you want to portray? Is that who you really are? What would it be like to work with you? What are your non-negotiables? Do you have a north point in why you got into law and or your speciality?
Avoid being Switzerland, Ostrich or Trump
Put yourself in the shoes of readers and you will never want to be one of these:
Switzerland: vanilla nothingness. Could apply to 50,000 other lawyers. Nothing is exciting and is filled with clichés and banality. Doesn’t stand for or believe in anything.
Ostrich: head in the sand, hardly any information. Lack of care or photos. A vibe of laziness or fearfulness around transparency.
Trump: pompous self-interested, look at me I am brilliant Chest beating grandiosity in full flight with special appearances of rudeness on newsfeed comments.
Tips and new features
- A photo tells a thousand words. A current clear one no more than 18 months old is essential. No team or glamor shots, wedding pics or holiday snaps from Bonnie Doon!
- Your voice conveys a great deal. The name pronunciation feature sits next to the name field allowing a 10-second audio introduction recording. A great tool to share a quick vibe.
- LinkedIn has just rolled out a cover story feature behind the photo image. You can load or directly record a 30-second video that is flagged by an orange circle around the photo. A very individual choice.
- Banner images are key real estate for marketing messages, personal and corporate branding. Never leave this blank.
- Profiles should be written in the first person. At worst use a neutral narrative but never write in the third person. Feedback and surveys including my own poll in 2020 show 60 to 70 per cent of members view people who write their profiles in the third person as being unfriendly to downright arrogant.
- Headlines are essential for showing expertise and purpose in a nanosecond. It also forms part of searches and SEO. With 220 characters share what you do, who you work with and unique services et al. The first 62 characters are also displayed on your profile tag when you comment in the newsfeed.
- Show don’t state. Avoid blanket statements such as hard-working, clients come first, go the extra mile. Weave an example narrative and unique angle for context.
- Share professional (and personal appropriate) achievements, values, interests and passions.
- Niching can be a great vibe to deepen comfort. If you enjoy working for certain industry sectors within your specialist legal area, share that with confidence.
- Be consistent in matching your engagement and comments in the newsfeed to the brand and vibe you want to portray.
Be mindful that others observe and lurk across comments and responses. Manners are important and combativeness and mean-spirited comments can damage your brand image.
Your personal and professional vibe matters. If anyone says it doesn’t just “tell them they’re dreaming”. Thanks Darryl Kerrigan and Dennis Denuto for the inspiration and serenity!
Sue Parker is the owner of DARE Group Australia.