When properly leveraged, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in your business development and personal marketing arsenal. It’s a great place to “find” and “get found” by prospective clients, colleagues, influencers and industry leaders. Once the “finding” has occurred, a fully-optimized LinkedIn profile tells the story of your professional background in a way that is not only engaging, but also helps to increase your visibility, strengthen the impact of your social marketing and enhance your ability to influence the decisions of your ideal clients.

Here are 7 ways that you can start to leverage LinkedIn to “tell the story” of your professional background, community service and law practice:

1) Write a descriptive professional headline that includes keywords related to your practice area. “Medical Malpractice Attorney in Virginia” is much more effective than “Attorney at [Insert Name] Law Firm.” A descriptive headline will help improve your search engine results and start to influence what people who visit your LinkedIn profile think about you and your practice.

2) Add current and past leadership roles to your work experience. Use keywords related to your practice areas or target markets in titles and descriptions if appropriate. This will help to increase your LinkedIn search engine placement for certain keyword. It will also help you “find” people who are affiliated with the organizations you list and “be found” by these folks.

3) Write your summary section description with your ideal clients in mind. Include information that is likely to be important to a person who is actively looking to engage an attorney to solve an immediate need. Use the summary section to answer the following question,

“What does my ideal client want and need to know before engaging an attorney for [insert a description of a typical client matter for your practice]?”

Include keywords in your answer to this question to increase your search engine placement for such words, while at the same time appealing to the emotion and intellect of your ideal clients.

4) Label the websites that you include in your LinkedIn Profile. Change the default settings (i.e., Company, Blog and Other) to include (i) your firm name; (ii) the name of your blog and (iii) a short description for the website, social network or specific page on your website for which you are providing a link.

5) Use LinkedIn Applications to add depth to your LinkedIn profile. Use the Google Presentations or Slideshare application to share slideshow presentations and add video to your profile. Visit my LinkedIn profile to see an example of a LinkedIn profile using an embedded video. Showcase your Martindale-Hubble Peer Review Ratings™ and Client Review Ratings™ with the Lexis Nexis Martaindale Hubbell application. Syndicate your WordPress or Typepad blog posts with the WordPress and Blog Link applications. Add personality to your profile by sharing your reading list via the Reading List by Amazon LinkedIn application. Use the Events application to share your events and keep up with conferences that your connections are attending. These are just a few ways to make your LinkedIn profile engaging and magnetically attractive to your ideal clients and target market.

6) Use a professional photo that represents your personal brand. It has been said that a photo is worth a thousand words, so make your photo count.

7) Join at least three groups that are related to your practice areas and target industries. Determine how each group can help to grow your practice, set a goal that is based on this determination; then, commit to adding value to each group at least once week. You can add value by sharing your original content, curating third-party content or commenting on a discussion.

Now that you have a few practical tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile, it’s time for you to take UpwardAction.

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This guest post is written by Tasha Cooper Coleman, Esq., a branding and law firm marketing consultant with expertise in social media and personal marketing for lawyers. You can find her online at UpwardAction, on Facebook and on Twitter.