Most lawyers know that LinkedIn is the most-popular social media site for business networking and meaningful interactions with people relevant to their practices. While LinkedIn has emerged as the primary business social media site, the do’s and don’ts of how to interact on the platform can be a bit of a mystery. Over the last several years, I have worked with attorneys across the country on how to use LinkedIn. The list here covers the most-commonly asked questions from attorneys about how to set up and manage a LinkedIn presence.

Q: If I’m not going to post anything on LinkedIn, why do I need a profile?

Even if you don’t plan on interacting and sharing information on LinkedIn, you should still create a profile. Think of LinkedIn as a free, high-quality directory listing that you control. When people search for your name online, LinkedIn profiles typically place high in search results. Therefore, having a well-optimized LinkedIn profile gives you strong online visibility.

Additionally, LinkedIn has more than 197 million members in North America and 675 million members worldwide. Members use the platform as a search engine to find people in specific job positions in areas around the globe. Not having a presence means missing out on becoming part of the most-inclusive business network available online.

The basic elements of a complete LinkedIn profile include:

  • A well-optimized headline — Use your title, but also include your generic position as well (lawyer or attorney) to help improve your visibility in LinkedIn searches.
  • A professional photo — No kids or pets, please.
  • Your location, industry and contact information.
  • Your experience — Tag your current employer in your experience section so your profile appears on the “Employees” list of your firm’s LinkedIn page.
  • Your education.

Q: Do I connect with everyone who asks?

No. While you don’t have to actually know everyone you connect with on LinkedIn, you do want to vet requests to make sure you share some level of business interest — you work in the same industry, have shared connections, live in the same region, etc. If a connection request comes from someone completely unrelated to your business world, you do not have to accept it.

Q: Should I personalize my connection requests?

When you’re asked to connect with someone, LinkedIn gives you the option to send the person a customized message. Including a note to a connection request gives an added layer of personalization and may initiate a back-and-forth conversation. Don’t overthink your message, though. Sometimes just a “It was great to meet you at the conference yesterday”-type message is adequate. 

Q: Should I look at other people’s profiles in private or “full profile” mode?

LinkedIn allows you to control whether people see that you viewed their profile. Before you scope people out, think about your desired visibility. Do you want the person to know you viewed their profile or would you rather remain anonymous? Sometimes profile-viewing is the first step in connecting, so when appropriate, I usually recommend that people view in full-profile mode. Obviously, in certain circumstances, you may benefit from using private mode, but be aware that when you switch, LinkedIn disables the “Who Viewed Your Profile” feature and erases your viewer history.

Q: How often should I post?

Posting frequency on LinkedIn should be managed with thoughtful intent. Too many posts may clutter your connections’ feeds, leading them to block you, but posting only occasionally is a lost opportunity to stay top of mind with your network. I generally recommend that attorneys post no more than once a day unless there’s something really important that has to be shared, in which case it is often better to “like” or “share” someone else’s post. When you “like” a post, the original post shows up framed in your feed. This approach achieves the goal of sharing the content without seeming overly self-promotional and sets up the possibility of a reciprocated “like” in the future. Whether you share twice a week or seven times a week, remember that quality is much more important than quantity.

Q: Should I only post content from my firm’s website?

Mix it up a bit. Keep in mind the rule that “you are what you share” when determining what to post on LinkedIn. Just posting content from the firm’s website will come across as overly self-promotional, and doesn’t position you as a well-rounded thought leader who enhances their knowledge base from multiple sources. Good sources to consider include your firm’s resource information, mainstream media outlets, trade and business publications, local outlets, and any other reliable online publishers.

Q: Do I have to use an image with my posts?

Always try to accompany your post with a related image. Stock photos are fully acceptable on LinkedIn as long as there’s a connection between the text and the graphic. Original photos are ideal but not always possible. Some firms create an image template where they can swap out an attorney’s headshot and change the headline text. These enforce a strong brand presence — but shouldn’t be overused because they can lead to a dull uniformity in your post feed.

LinkedIn also allows you to embed videos in your posts, as long as they are under 10 minutes in length. Consider posting original video content in your feed, and become your own broadcast channel!

Q: Should I use hashtags in LinkedIn posts?

LinkedIn posts can include hashtags, but keep in mind that popular hashtags on one social media platform are not the same on another platform. For instance, you would almost never use Instagram hashtags on LinkedIn. When you compose a post, LinkedIn suggests related hashtags that you can choose from, or you can do your own hashtag research using the “#” symbol in the search field and seeing how many people follow a given hashtag. Find hashtags that are relevant to your post and have enough search volume to make them worthwhile.

Q: Should I use LinkedIn’s publishing section?

Yes! Whenever you publish an original blog or article on your firm’s website, you should always replicate it on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Even third-party publications will often let you republish bylined articles on your LinkedIn account with attribution. After all, it gives them added visibility.

Q: Is it worth paying for a premium account?

If you are looking for basic visibility, networking and engagement functionality, a premium account is not necessary. For attorneys looking to deepen their prospecting capabilities and sales funnel features, upgrading to premium is definitely worth the cost. If you’re not sure, try out the free 30-day trial that LinkedIn offers.

If you still have questions about LinkedIn, the LinkedIn help center publishes a well-organized library of information about managing profiles and engaging on their platform. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn to recommend additions to my top 10 list.

This article originally appeared on The National Law Review website on October 15, 2019.