The winter break is an ideal time to establish or enhance your social networking presence. Social networking is no longer the wave of the future, it is our reality today! Lawyers are joining the major social networking sites at a faster rate than ever before. It’s no secret that it is challenging to land the job of your dreams in today’s market, but developing a strong professional social networking presence is one way that you can distinguish yourself from the competition. The first step is to establish profiles on each of the top three social networking sites – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Facebook: While Facebook has not historically been used for professional social networking, there has been a shift toward using Facebook for professional purposes, and many law firms and companies now have Facebook pages that you can follow, so I recommend updating your profile to ensure that all pictures and posts project a professional appearance. Then, start following law firms and organizations that interest you.
LinkedIn: Since LinkedIn is recognized as the primary site for professional social networking, you are at a distinct disadvantage in the job market if you do not have a LinkedIn profile. Create a profile and include a headshot that looks professional (it does not have to be taken by a professional photographer – you can use a nice amateur photo and crop it so that it only shows your face). Write a summary that highlights your accomplishments in law school and your future goals. Include all relevant prior employment and experiential learning, including clinics and externships. Then, research and join groups that match your professional interests and groups that are in your target market. Don’t forget alumni groups from your undergraduate institution and Florida Coastal. And start making connections! Connect with people you know and people you want to know, and be sure to customize your invitation so that people know why you want to connect with them. The goal in making connections on LinkedIn as a student is to establish meaningful relationships with practitioners who can be resources for you, even if they do not have job opportunities within their organizations. The best way to turn someone away is to come right out and tell them that you are connecting with them because you are looking for a job. Under the News tab on LinkedIn, you can also follow specific industries and publications, and LinkedIn will customize the articles that you see based on your preferences. This is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the industries that interest you.
Twitter: Twitter is another site that is being used by more and more lawyers every day. It offers a vehicle to connect with people and follow the latest news in any given industry. You can use Twitter as a hybrid of professional and personal social networking. I follow professional contacts, companies, and legal publications as well as sports programs, celebrities, and local organizations. Creating a Twitter profile is simple, and you can use the same picture that you use for your LinkedIn profile. Check out the people that I am following for ideas of who to follow (@afourmangator). Also, click here to read an article from InsideCounsel discussing why all lawyers should use Twitter.
Once you are up and running, remember that the key to social networking is meaningful activity. If you want to be noticed, you have to join the conversation. Stay on top of the latest news and offer insightful comments, ask questions, answer questions, and share relevant articles. As a former legal recruiter, I know firsthand that people are landing jobs everyday based on connections made through social networking. You could be next!
Stay tuned in the Spring semester for a CSD workshop focused on social networking, and stop by the CSD library to check out our resources on social networking.
If you have obtained a job through social networking – either through a connection made on a social networking site or through a job posting that you found on a social networking site – please contact me so that I can feature your story in a future blog post. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.