August 7, 2012

Most professionals, certainly most lawyers have LinkedIn profiles by now (at least those under 55).  Most don’t know why they have them, except someone in Marketing told them they needed one, or what to do with them once they’re online.  Fair enough; there’s still significant debate regarding how lawyers can benefit from social media and online marketing tools.

One place to start, though, is with your profile’s biographical narrative.  Just like most attorney website bios, they seem largely interchangeable, lawyer to lawyer.  Litigators describe what they do using the exact same language that most other litigators do — a general overview of a general litigation practice with an “I do everything and I do it all extremely well” tone.

This a soup-to-nuts approach is generally true – most litigators do whatever comes across their desks, and with relative skill.  As do most corporate, tax, real estate, employment, and every other general-category lawyers. The problem is that this overly broad approach doesn’t work for marketing — clients buy specialized expertise when they can find it, not Jack Of All Trades, Esq.

Google is the same way.  The more general your biographical website profile, the harder it is for you to rise to the top of an organic Google search – you’re competing with the hundreds of thousands of other lawyers nationwide who have also used those exact same generic descriptions.  Then lawyers repeat this same language in their LinkedIn profiles, burying themselves into the middle of all the other lawyers who wrote their profiles quickly and non-strategically.

Before you sit down to write (or edit) your LinkedIn profile, think for a minute.  What do you want to be known for? What SPECIFIC search will your target audience conduct where you want to be among the top results?  Use those EXACT words in your LinkedIn profile, and use them more than once. Perhaps in slightly different configurations.  Not to the point of ridiculousness, but enough for emphasis, so Google thinks you mean it, and you cover the range of potential similar searches.

Include your local geography, particularly the smaller communities.  Add very narrow specialty industries where you have expertise or those you’d like to work in. The smaller or more unusual or arcane the industry, the better your chance of identifying something with fewer online competitors.

Start your search-engine optimization (SEO) there.  Revise your profile to insert more buzz words, geography, targeted search terms, narrow industries, and sub-specialty practices.  If you’re thoughtful, strategic, and creative, you’re already way ahead of the game. And the competition.

For more on LinkedIn for lawyers check out: LinkedIn for Lawyers: A Practical Guide to the No. 1 Social Media Tool