We have established on LE many times that reaching out to legal professionals on LinkedIn is a great way to network and stand out in the legal profession. However, you need to make sure your profile is up to scratch, and even better, to increase your chances of having your invite accepted or your message read.
Below are some tips on creating a professional profile. Check these against your LinkedIn profile, and adjust where necessary.
1. Make your profile public
This is the most important step. Any other change you make to your profile is of little effect if the people you are sending requests to cannot see them. Check your LinkedIn account settings to make sure that your profile is visible to the public. Doing this also means that you show up in searches and can be spotted by recruiters or interested parties.
You can keep some of your information private, and any information you make private, will only be visible to your connections.
2. Create a customized URL
Having your personal LinkedIn URL makes it easier for you to send people your profile, especially where there might be other professionals who have the same name as you.
Click here to learn how to create a customized LinkedIn profile
3. Update your profile picture
Profiles with headshots get more views than profiles without. Use a professional looking headshot. You don’t need to hire a photographer. A passport-like picture taken on your phone will do.
Use a phone with a good quality camera (borrow if you have to), in front of a plain background such as a building wall, and wear professional clothes.
Avoid obvious selfies i.e. pictures that display your extended arm, or tilted head
4. Add contact information
Make sure you include contact information if you want people to be able to reach out to you. Certain LinkedIn users may not be able to reach you except they are Premium users, and you don’t want to miss out on great opportunities.
If you have a blog, or other websites where you have published content, be sure to include the links as well.
5. Improve your headline
Your headline is probably the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. After your picture, it is the first thing people see when you send an invite or whenever they otherwise come across your profile. It is usually what will determine if they feel you are “important” enough to be added to their network.
If you are a student at the university or Law School, it is okay to simply write “Student at University of Ibadan”. You may also wish to include any notable position of responsibility you hold, e.g. “Student at University of Ibadan | President, Law Students’ Society”.
You do not need to include any adjectives to qualify your position as student. We have come across profiles with headlines such as “premier student of XYZ” or “outstanding student at ABC”. These are cliché and do not add anything to your profile. In fact, such headlines may cheapen your profile in the eyes of some users.
Similar guidelines will apply to qualified lawyers in full employment; you may use headlines such as “Associate at Bolanle Adebiyi & Co”.
As a general rule also, keep the word count in your headline as low as possible. This is not the place to go into unnecessary detail or to show off how much of a Jack-of-all-trades you are.
If you are a qualified lawyer currently looking for a job, we do not feel that it is necessary to include “looking for opportunities” or something similar in your headline. You may put this in your profile instead. Simply stating “Legal Practitioner” or “Lawyer” in your headlines will suffice, as you are a qualified lawyer entitled to practice in Nigeria.
You may even include the words that describe the positions or opportunities you are looking for, e.g. Lawyer (Litigation & Dispute Resolution). This way, your name still comes up on a search of lawyers working in Litigation & Dispute Resolution, while you have remained honest about your current situation. You could and should also do this under the employment section of your profile as well.
Focus on showing people through the rest of your profile, why they would want to hire you or be connected with you.
6. Include selective skills for endorsement
Do not bombard your profile with skills which you either do not possess or which are too commonplace.
A 400 level university student is unlikely to be skilled in Mergers & Acquisitions, but in the same vein, everyone can use Microsoft Word, etc. Avoid putting these on your profile.
You should display skills that will make you more searchable, and give the reader an idea of who you are and what you can do. Add skills that are necessary for entrants to the legal profession, such as research, legal writing, etc. and then reorder the list so that your most important skills are on the top.
7. Delete jargon
You can include a profile if you really want to, but make sure you don’t write abstractly. By this, we mean if the information in your profile can apply to so many other people, there’s no point.
Avoid using buzz words like passionate, driven, focused, innovative, motivated, expert, etc. They are cliché and do not add as much value as you think. Anyone can claim to be anything; focus on showing users how you possess these qualities as opposed to telling them you possess the skills
If you include a profile in your LinkedIn summary, be sure to write this in the first person (i.e. “I am a 400 level student”, not “Yimika Adesola is a 400 level student”).
8. Request a recommendation
Don’t be afraid to request recommendations from lecturers, senior colleagues, classmates or anyone who may have worked with. Testimonials go a long way in confirming the things you may have said about yourself.
Display recommendations that seem objective and highlight your possession of the skills needed to succeed in the legal profession, such as attention to detail and writing/speaking ability.
9. Be visible
Think of LinkedIn like any other social media platform, but only in that you should regularly post updates in order to stay relevant and remain at the back of people’s minds.
Update your profile professionally and strategically at least once a week. Updates may include your thoughts on a business or law article you just read. You should also consider writing original articles and publishing them on your LinkedIn profile. Your network will see the updates in their news feeds.
You should also join groups relevant to the legal profession or your university, as doing this makes your profile more likely to be viewed.
- Watch out for typos and grammatical errors; these are a definite no-no. This includes things as basic as spelling your name in initial caps (i.e. capitalizing the first letter of your name and surname)
- Make sure your profile is completely up to date with as much information as possible. LinkedIn will usually prompt you to include any outstanding information.
Yimika Adesola, for Legally Engaged