Published October 13, 2023
In today's digitally connected world, building a strong online presence is essential, especially for those aspiring to embark on a career in the legal field. Whether you are an undergraduate student dreaming of attending law school or a current law student, LinkedIn is your go-to platform for developing professional connections.
At UB School of Law, we recognize the importance of students building an online presence with LinkedIn. Incoming UB Law students are invited to their class LinkedIn group after receiving their law school acceptance, where they can engage in conversations with classmates and stay on top of law school news and events.
Our Career Services Office (CSO) recently hosted Karen Sharp-Price, who presented “Tips from a Career Coach: How to Make Yourself Stand Out on LinkedIn.” Karen is a Professional Career Coach (CPCC), Certified Veteran Career Strategist (CVCS), Certified Digital Career Strategist (CDCS) and a Certified Human Resources Professional (PHR and SHRM-CP). She also hosts a podcast, SharpHR Career Corner. During her recent session at the law school, she provided students with valuable suggestions on setting up their profiles and utilizing LinkedIn. Keep a look out for Karen’s key tips included throughout this blog!
Let’s explore five strategies that will help set you apart in the vast world of LinkedIn.
When landing on a LinkedIn profile, three key components strike a viewer first: the background image, profile picture, and tagline. This is a great place for you to start making a great impression.
Select a professional portrait.
Add a unique background image.
Create a tagline.
Tip from Karen: Add an audio clip to your profile. This needs to be done from your phone and can include how to pronounce your name or a warm welcome to your profile.
You may often hear “Keep your resume to one page” but LinkedIn is different. Think of your profile as an extension of your resume. On LinkedIn, you should include all your professional experiences. This will come in handy if employers want to dive deeper into your background. Always include your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume so it’s easy for potential employers to find this additional information.
Tip from Karen: Customize your profile URL to include only your first and last name, removing randomly generated numbers and letters. This looks more professional and increases your findability.
Build a complete profile by filling out each section thoroughly. Here are some details to consider:
Tip from Karen: Indicate five skills you acquired at each of your job experiences. This highlights your strengths and where they were obtained.
Now that you have an optimized profile that shows off who you are, it is time to make some connections. This can start small. Begin by connecting with your classmates and mentors and you will watch your feed fill quickly. Join various groups, like schools you attended or would like to attend and companies where you have worked, or where you would like to work. Search for attorneys who work in a geographic region or practice in an area of interest to you. Your network will quickly expand with like-minded colleagues.
Tip from Karen: Look for groups with 100+ members to ensure lively discussion.
Your connections are growing. Now it is time to engage with them. This is the step that often goes by the wayside but is key to creating valuable relationships. Push yourself outside your comfort zone and feel confident in the knowledge you have gained throughout your academic career. The first step is to like, support, or celebrate your connections’ posts. As you become more comfortable with what others post on this platform and you continue to gain experience, start to comment. Your responses should be short, relevant to the post, and provide new insights or add to the conversation. As your comfort level rises, you can begin to repost!
Remember, LinkedIn is a professional platform, and you should treat it as such. Do not use LinkedIn like you would other social media platforms. Always double-check spelling and grammar before posting and avoid using abbreviations. The legal world is filled with abbreviations and acronyms, but this is not the place to showcase them. Spell out organizations, degrees, etc. to avoid confusion and to provide accessibility to those from all backgrounds. Posts and comments should always be written in a professional voice, avoiding casual language and internet slang. And clarity is key! Your errors are not just mistakes but reflections of your attention to detail, a crucial trait in the legal profession. Finally, always be courteous and show respect for diverse viewpoints.
And just like that you are creating your professional identity in the legal community!