🪢 5 Key Takeaways: Creating Your Professional Network Online
If you think LinkedIn is just a place to store your resume, then you’re missing out. There’s a whole world of legal pros engaging in fun, meaningful, and professionally beneficial interactions online. How do you get involved? We’re glad you asked. We spoke to Heather Stevenson, GC at Red Cell Partners, Kyle Robisch, Litigation Associate at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, and Brittany Leonard, Chief Corporate Counsel at Civix, about their online community-building journey and their best tips for building your own.
In case you couldn’t make it, here are our top 5 takeaways.
💬 It’s all about the comments
If Netflix documentaries have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t trust people we meet online. When it comes to professional networking, however, we wholeheartedly disagree. The pandemic accelerated a shift from in-person to online events and interactions and revealed that - as it turns out - you can make real, authentic connections through platforms like LinkedIn.
These connections can lead to:
Thoughtful online conversations about your industry
Stronger bonds with coworkers
Being online can also expand your network geographically, from just the same old faces you see in the office or in court to like-minded people all over the world (Psst … they don’t even have to be lawyers).
But if you want meaningful discussion and real connections, clicking that like button just won’t cut it. And lurking silently will get you about as far as hiding behind a pot plant at a conference. So dive into the comments and get talking.
😡 Your boss will love it … or maybe not
It’s fair to say there are a few partners and CEOs out there who’ve been around longer than Stephen Breyer and wouldn’t know a TikTok dance challenge if it cha-cha-slid right into them. So it’s understandable if you feel a little apprehensive about how they’d react if you became the next Alex Su.
Here are 2 things to think about:
1. Suss out the vibe
There’s a good chance your boss and coworkers will love your witty Tweets and hilarious gifs but some firms and companies think it’s unprofessional to share anything other than news articles, press releases, and promotion announcements (yawn). Gauge your environment. No meme is worth losing your job over (or if there is one that good, send it over to us stat).
2. Think before you post
Even if the CEO puts your memes in his Powerpoint presentations, proceed with caution. Steer clear of talking about real cases, clients, and colleagues in a way that makes it obvious what you’re referring to. If you make a joke about an anonymous paralegal who recently returned from maternity leave, chances are they can join the dots. When in doubt, leave your draft to one side overnight and make a call in the morning. The same goes for comments. If you do want to call someone out, be prepared to live with the consequences.
🙅 Forget the haters
Posting online can feel a bit like public speaking. You might be nervous about what people think about you. The truth is, if people aren’t interested in your content, they’ll probably just ignore it — which is really not so bad. There will be others who relate to your message and, if you keep posting, those people will find you.
The bigger you get, the more criticism and negative comments you will attract. Most of us focus on negative feedback, even if it’s only 1% of what’s coming our way, but try to keep your attention on the likes and positive comments. Besides, going viral and getting lots of followers is not the most productive goal. Focus on finding and nurturing the right audience and creating real engagement, even if that means you have a smaller network.
🛀 Get personal?
People connect to content that feels personal and authentic. Those are pretty vague terms but the long and short of it is that generic, corporate stuff, buzz words, and cliches aren’t particularly relatable. That being said, you don’t necessarily need to get personal personal i.e. photos-of-the-kids-in-the-bath/update-on-your-IBS personal. Digital marketing experts will tell you to pepper in personal content with your professional stuff but that could just mean a photo of your home office setup or an anecdote about your career.
Ultimately, it’s your choice. You can establish ground rules for yourself, like no photos of your significant other, or you can set up separate social media accounts for personal content. Maybe you’re happy to share it all. Either way, remember to think about safety. It’s not smart to share your current location, for example. And if you share information about someone else, be mindful of their privacy.
📬 Just post it, already!
Don’t wait around until you’ve thought of the perfect post. You don’t need to share a deep, original insight or a genius joke. Just get started. It’s easier than you think.
If you don’t know where to begin you can:
Try out popular formats such as “Here are 3 things you probably don’t know about me.”
Share a bugbear, a memory, or an interesting statistic.
Talk about something that happened this week at work.
Praise a colleague.
Create a poll.
Comment on the news.
Share a quote from a Lawtrades event or Deep Dive.
Turn your skills and knowledge into some quick tips.
And don’t forget to get involved in the comment sections on other people’s posts.
So what are you waiting for? Get networking.
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👋 The team at Lawtrades