Learning LinkedIn

Tips for using LinkedIn to advance your practice

Counsel's Corner

Dennis C. Garcia

Dennis C. Garcia is an assistant general counsel for Microsoft based in Chicago. He leads the legal support function to Microsoft’s U.S. Central Region Enterprise & Partner Group team that is based in an 18-state region and across six Microsoft districts. Garcia received his B.A. in political science from Binghamton University in New York state and his J.D. from Columbia Law School. He is admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut and Illinois (house counsel). He serves on the board of directors of Illinois Legal Aid Online and the Association of Corporate Counsel Chicago chapter. 

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social media network and it recently surpassed a half of billion members in more than 200 countries. In fact, professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members every second.

LinkedIn provides all lawyers with fantastic learning, networking and career-building opportunities. As you use LinkedIn to achieve more, please embrace the following strategies to maximize your LinkedIn presence:

Take advantage of the photo opportunity

Research indicates that having a photo makes your profile much more likely to be viewed by others. Be sure to invest the time and money to have a professional photographer take a headshot that you can add to your profile. Don’t forget that LinkedIn also allows you to add a background image to your profile.

Develop a catchy headline

Right below your profile photos is your headline where you can describe yourself in 120 characters. Your headline is valuable “real estate” as it (and your photo) are the first items that people will typically see when they view your profile — especially if they are using a smartphone. Take the time to create a headline that attracts attention and differentiates yourself from other lawyers.

Don’t forget the rest of your profile

The remainder of your profile provides you with an excellent opportunity to “tell your professional story” so make sure you complete it and periodically update it. One of my favorite areas in a LinkedIn profile is the publications section. It’s a great tool to help evangelize your brand. I routinely populate that section with weblinks and other information for the articles I write, the external presentations I deliver and the panels I serve on at legal industry events.

Who to connect with and follow?

The questions as to who and how many people you should connect with and the companies, law firms and other organizations to follow on LinkedIn are always interesting. It’s a personal decision as to how much you want to expand your LinkedIn network and potentially “reach” more lawyers, clients (actual and potential) and other professionals. You also want to be thoughtful as to who to include in your network. Given the popularity of LinkedIn and social media generally nowadays, most LinkedIn experts I speak to say that lawyers should have at least 500 + connections.

I view potential LinkedIn connections in a pretty straightforward fashion — those who work for your same employer and those who do not. Consider connecting with fellow lawyers and legal professionals at your law firm or legal department.

If you work in-house consider connecting with key business clients as that provides you with opportunities to learn more about them, their experience and issues that may be top of mind for them. I’ve enjoyed connecting with many professionals that are outside of my Microsoft network such as lawyers from our law firm partners, lawyers that I’ve met at legal industry conferences, lawyers from our customers/partners that I’ve interacted with, legal industry leaders, etc …

When you send an invite to connect with others always try to personalize that invite since doing so will help make you more memorable to the invitee.

Like vs. Comment vs. Share vs. Post vs. Publish

Some members may be “stealth” on LinkedIn and simply follow their LinkedIn news feed and absorb the vast amounts of interesting information that their network provides. Others will be more active and may like, comment on or share a post that is made by someone else. Members will also post their own thoughts and can even formally publish an article via LinkedIn. If you choose to engage in an active fashion always be thoughtful of the frequency of your commenting, posting and publishing activity and consider adding images to stand out.

Be smart

Make sure that you are thoughtful and careful regarding the information you share on LinkedIn. Assume that whatever you contribute on LinkedIn can make its way on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Always comply with your organization’s social media policies and applicable legal ethics requirements for lawyers.

Best of luck in your journey using LinkedIn and have fun!

Disclosure: LinkedIn was previously acquired by Microsoft, where the author serves as assistant general counsel.