Spontaneous Exclamations: LinkedIn etiquette

Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held, LLP.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, commercial finance, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or akatz@harrisonheld.com.  Comments on all posts are welcome!

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It is generally accepted that Facebook is in the process of taking over the world.  But before a giant, fire-breathing, robotic Mark Zuckerberg battles Godzilla and becomes our planetary overlord, let’s take a moment to talk about LinkedIn etiquette.

In the interest of being brief for a blog post, we can break this down into three categories: (i) portrait; (ii) content; and (iii) interaction.  Follow these easy steps on your way to achieving LinkedIn mastery (or just a convenient tool and a nicer looking page).

1.         Portrait – “My nose isn’t big. I just happen to have a very small head.” – Jimmy Durante. Everybody wants to look good, especially if they are posting a photo for the entire world to see.  However, while you may add to the quality of your LinkedIn profile page with a professional portrait, your profile really doesn’t need a photo.  Why?  To a significant portion of LinkedIn’s users’ dismay, this isn’t Facebook. LinkedIn is meant for professional networking as opposed to being an electronic yearbook in which you publish all of your personal exploits in or sometimes out of a bathing suit for the entire world to see.  Therefore, what’s most important is your professional credentials, not your face.

So if you have a professional portrait use it— it’ll make your LinkedIn page a more customizable extension of your profile page on your workplace’s website.  However, if you’re stuck cropping the better looking pictures of yourself from your latest trip to Cabo, don’t waste your time.  Drop the anxiety about posting a picture of your nose looking too big from your “bad side” and just don’t upload a photo.  It’s not necessary.  Focus on the content.

2.         Content – (insert hyperbole here). Simple: LinkedIn is your online resume, but you get more than one piece of paper to write it on.  Use this to your advantage.  Take your resume, insert it on your profile, and then expand on the details without being too verbose.   Whether you use your profile to network, acquire clients, job hunt, or whatever else, it’s a bonus to be able to convey to people exactly what you do.

When you meet people in a professional setting, much of the time they will briefly research your background and your LinkedIn profile will undoubtedly come up in a basic search.  As a result, since this profile is supposed to be analogous to your resume, avoid the excessive exaggeration.  How are you going to explain it later when your potential client asks you about the $300 billion  deal you quarterbacked one year out of law school, or what Anthony Bourdain was like when you were his sous-chef  (actually, bus-boy at the restaurant next door)?  Keep it simple, keep it honest.

3.         Interaction – This isn’t Facebook. While Facebook is admittedly a good networking tool, LinkedIn is excellent for professional networking.  Not only is LinkedIn a convenient online Rolodex to keep track of your network, but it’s an outlet to acquire introductions to virtually anybody you’d like to meet, so long as you are within a few connections of them.  You want to meet someone at XYZ Inc.?  Go on LinkedIn and search for everyone at XYZ Inc..  You will find that your college roommate went to high school with him and played on the same varsity badminton team.  There’s your foot in the door.  Bring your badminton racquet.

And that’s all there is to it.  Use LinkedIn wisely and it can add major convenience and value to your practice.  Treat it like Facebook and you won’t be the only one posting a bikini picture while simultaneously attempting to convince other professionals that you’re qualified to handle their 300 billion dollar deal.  If posting that picture is your move though, fair enough.  At least your nose doesn’t look too big.

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