Posted by Lisa Hamilton on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 11:00
Q: I’ve read that legal professionals need a greater online presence in order to get ahead. I’d love to get more involved with social media as a way to “enhance my brand,” but I’m afraid of making mistakes. Any words of wisdom?
A: It’s true that social media is an excellent tool in many professions, including legal careers. When used well, it can be effective for networking and maximizing your chances of landing a great job. However, ill-advised posts or a neglected online presence can have just the opposite effect. Here are five social media training tips to get you started on the right track.
1. Choose the right platforms
You have many social media platforms to choose from, with LinkedIn and Twitter being the most widely used. Closed networks just for legal professionals are also available, such as Foxwordy, but are smaller in scale. You also can create a professional profile on Facebook. Start by liking the pages of law firms and legal bloggers that, in your opinion, do a good job of communicating online. Seeing how they interact on a social network can help you find your own voice and personal brand.
2. Polish your profile
Whether you use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, you need to have a first-rate online presence. Make your bio short and attention-catching, and don’t forget to include your legal career background and relevant experience. Your profile photo needs to be appropriate and, ideally, will be a professional headshot. Because anyone can see your profile, share only the information you feel comfortable making public. If you’re a lawyer, you may even want to include a disclaimer stating that whatever you share or post is not a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice.
3. Get connected
Once you’ve created your profile, it’s time to connect with others who have legal careers. Send invitations to co-workers, classmates, former colleagues, friends in other companies (both legal and non-legal) and acquaintances from professional organizations. Social media platforms feature search functions and contact suggestions, so it’s easy to find people to add to your network. Join groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your work and follow people and organizations on Twitter that you admire.
4. Keep comments professional
Comments posted on Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms are clearly much less formal than legal documents. They will, however, be viewed publicly. So be careful to use proper grammar, watch out for typos and other errors, and proofread before posting. Facebook lets users edit a published post, but LinkedIn and Twitter only offer a delete option. To stay professional while social networking, don’t rely on textspeak or emoticons, which can seem too casual or immature.
5. Maintain social poise
Watch your digital etiquette. Although social media is more relaxed than other forms of communication, always be polite and professional. Never post negative comments about your present or former employer, and never write anything that would violate the attorney-client privilege. Also avoid sharing images or other content that could be construed as being offensive or in poor taste. If in doubt, leave it out.
Though the online landscape is constantly changing, don’t wait until you have perfect skills before putting your social media training into practice. Once you master some basics, you’re ready to create and craft your personal brand. Social media offers a wealth of networking and job opportunities for people in legal careers, so set up your profiles and start connecting.