If you’re already on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, throwing another social network into the mix shouldn’t be difficult. After all, law students are master procrastinators. But LinkedIn is different to other social networks (you probably won’t see any law school memes or photos of lunch on there) so here’s a quick guide to get you started…
I don’t blame you for being unsure about LinkedIn. After having your head buried in textbooks for the last few weeks, the last thing you want to think about is work or law. But after the pain of law school (hand cramps and other ailments) you’ll want to secure a job. In an industry where who you know is sometimes just as important as what you know, networking is key, and LinkedIn is a way of getting your name on the radar of potential employers and future colleagues.
And if holiday networking doesn’t appeal to you, what about taking the time to reflect? Creating a profile provides a chance to look back on your achievements so far. You’re closer to graduation than you may think!
Getting started is easy. After reading and accepting the terms and conditions, begin building your profile as you would a resume. Your summary is your ‘sales pitch’ – use it wisely. While LinkedIn may seem like a brag book at times, don’t sell yourself short. List your (relevant) interests and skills, previous experience and other related information. Remember to be concise, but specific. Provide information, but allow room for further clarification in interviews.
Once you’re happy with your profile, connect with fellow students, colleagues and other contacts. You can take this one step further by asking for a recommendation. If any of your connections have worked with you (or even better, worked above you), they can write references to be displayed on your profile. Some employers consider LinkedIn recommendations more credible than written references.
When sending requests to connect, make the effort to send more than the generic LinkedIn message. Be polite: use “Dear” and “Sincerely” if you don’t know the person well. Wait for them to make the conversation less formal in their reply. Remember, first impressions matter and it’s better to be too formal than too casual!
If you’ve only met the potential connection once before, include a short sentence to jog their memory. For example: “It was great to meet you at XYZ University’s law careers night last week. I enjoyed your talk on working in public law.” When doing follow ups like this, be prompt. Don’t delay for weeks or months, as there is usually only a small window to secure connections like these.
Don’t forget to also join legal networks and start following legal publications. It’s also a very good idea to start following law firms that you’re interested in working with, as they often post career advice and share updates about what’s happening in their organisation, which is useful if you’re researching for a job application. Some firms even advertise positions on LinkedIn first.
Finally, get networking! Contribute to conversations on other people’s posts, and share relevant industry updates such as news articles and case studies.
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