If you want to build your reputation as a freelancing lawyer, you can’t ignore social media. It’s open to everyone, cost-effective and, most importantly, clients increasingly expect to be able find you online. However much, or little, you use tools such as Twitter or Facebook in your personal life, creating an effective online presence using LinkedIn is not optional. In this guest post, Martin Thomas, consultant and the author of The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy shares extra guidance on how to market yourself on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is enjoying something of a renaissance …

… in part because it doesn’t force us to struggle with the blurring of our private and professional lives. LinkedIn is for business … not funny cat photos, drunken party shots or lockdown dance moves. This might make it appear somewhat boring to the typical Facebook, Instagram or TikTok user, but that is its strength. It is single-mindedly focussed on maximising value for our professional lives.

LinkedIn is a low maintenance platform…

… Twitter is like a nagging child always seeking attention – demanding an almost constant stream of activity and attention. In contrast, LinkedIn is relatively undemanding. There is no urgency to respond to a post within minutes and the content you create can have a long shelf-life – I still occasionally receive comments on articles or posts I wrote years ago. In my experience, using LinkedIn for only five minutes a day can add value to your professional life – introducing you to new, relevant articles, keeping you in-touch with developments within your professional network (people changing jobs, getting promotions or winning awards) and giving you a platform to share your views and expertise through comments, posts and the occasional longer-form article.

One of the easiest ways to generate content …

… is to simply like, share or comment on someone else’s article. However, be wary of simply recycling the same old material that has already been widely shared. This isn’t adding value to the professional lives of those people in your network. Share things that your audience may not have seen. Find a distinctive angle on a well-discussed topic that showcases your unique skills and expertise. Have an opinion, encourage and feed debate. Don’t be boring. LinkedIn discussions are rarely adversarial. Arguments can get heated, but unlike Twitter and Facebook they rarely degenerate into unpleasant mudslinging, so having an opinion (even if it is slightly controversial) is unlikely to get you into trouble and will hopefully get you noticed.

As with all social media platforms, LinkedIn rewards … 

… active participation. The more you share, upload, publish, comment and like, the more people are likely to see your profile and the stronger your network will become. Two or three LinkedIn updates a week and the occasional longer-form piece of content, such as a quarterly LinkedIn article, is usually enough to keep your network buzzing and don’t assume that everything has to be written – photos, graphics, cartoons, infographics and videos work particularly well on LinkedIn.

You should also spend time on …

… self-appraisal – analysing the effectiveness of your activities and continuously seeking to improve your performance. In simple terms this means doing more of what works and less of what does not – for example, if your posts are failing to generate many views, likes or comments, maybe you should redirect your efforts to something else or find something different to write about.

And if you are a technophobe …

… don’t worry. The best way to become a successful user of social media is to adopt what you might describe as traditional networking techniques. If you think about people you consider ‘good networkers’, they typically embrace the spirit of reciprocity. They occasionally celebrate their successes but more often do useful or generous things for other people – share useful information, contribute positively to their work, provide free advice, share their material with their networks, simply say ‘thank you’ every once in a while, on the understanding that they will be rewarded in return; maybe not immediately, but at some stage in the future. They identify areas of mutual interest – topics or subjects that they can share and discuss or debate with other people. They play the long game – experienced sales people will say that it requires multiple contacts or meetings to convert a sale and the same principle applies to networking. Apply these same networking skills to your use of LinkedIn and you won’t go wrong.

Putting it all together

If you haven’t done much on LinkedIn, start with the basics. Update your profile and include a professional photograph. Then to get started, task yourself with posting two or three things a week. One of these might be a new insight or link to a piece you have written or an event you’ve taken part in, the other might be a reflection on something you’re sharing, related to your area of expertise. Book time in your diary once a quarter to write something longer, that will interest your ideal clients and promotes Brand You.

Our picks for further reading:

The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy, Martin Thomas, FT Publishing
Explore LinkedIn Learning for more articles (and videos) with a free month’s trial

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