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By: Jennifer E. Jordan (Guest Blogger)
We really wanted to feature a post on the importance of having a complete and professional profile for purposes of social media, networking and employability. While I was impressed when Jenn graciously volunteered to write on this particular topic, I was completely taken aback when she e-mailed me a finished article about an hour later! Kudos to Jennifer for sharing these tips with our readers!
Newbies: we hope you enjoy this article. Experienced paralegals: we hope you’ll share your thoughts and/or tips with our readers regardng this topic by leavng a comment. (We always welcome your brilliance.) Now let’s get down to business! You need to have a complete and professional profile — here’s why:
Having a Completed Professional Linkedin Profile is important for several reasons. A major reason is because it illustrates your professional identity. If someone went on the internet and Googled the word “LinkedIn” they would get search results that set forth what LinkedIn is and how it is used. When I searched LinkedIn on Google, a word in the results that leapt off the screen right away was — Professional. There was a head note that said it is the largest professional network, where someone can create their professional identity, and where one can build and engage with their professional network. Put simply: LinkedIn is a “Professional Network.”
On LinkedIn, an individual can meet colleagues, current and former classmates, employers, industry experts, and professionals in a variety of fields. With that understanding, why would someone not want to put their best foot forward by taking the time to complete a profile? A completed profile allows people like your connections, potential employers, group leaders, group members, and business referrals to know more about you. Who are you, what you do, when you started doing it, where you are trying to go, and why? The word professionalism is defined in part as: The skill, competence, or character expected of a member of a highly trained profession. If you are going to participate in LinkedIn networking, you should show your skill, competence and character via your profile.
Looking at the word “expected” in this definition makes me think about the concept of responsibility. It might be said that if a person is not responsible enough to complete a public profile that has the potential to be seen by millions of industry experts, colleagues, and potential future employers, it could mean that he or she needs to become more aware of what it means to be “a professional.” Does it mean that unless someone has their profile completed 100% they are not a professional? NO! However, it may mean that a person who thinks and responds in a professional manner will care about their professional identity and take the initiative to fill in the basic areas on their profile, because Linkedin is, after all, about sharing an individual’s professional identity with others. That’s the whole point.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Completing a profile tells people who you are, demonstrates that you are conscientious, allows connections to see what you do or are doing, gives group leaders and members a brief description of your background, and shows that you are “a professional.” To employers, (if you’re looking), it shows that you are detail oriented and know how to follow through with instructions. It means you are serious about the network you’ve joined. It helps others to take you seriously.
It says something about a person who has no concrete information on their profile. Okay, so maybe you’re saying “but I don’t know what I should put on my profile;” apart from the fact that each section is headed with what information should be there, if you don’t think you have the right information, consider that– students who do not have a lot of history in the job market can put all their collegiate history and activities; Millennials can add their achievements and projects; Boomers can include their milestones and successes; candidates for employment can display what they currently do and what they’ve done in the past on their profile. It is imperative that you list at least your:
- Name (at least first name and last initial);
- Educational background/schools, along with your activities, GPA, etc;
- Employment history (or at least general descriptions if you cannot list your actual employer due to restrictions with social media); and
- Your city and state.
Is that really too much to ask? I think not… and I know I’m not alone. It is important to complete a professional Linkedin Profile because it tells everyone viewing it that you are serious about your professional networking identity. If you do not have at least minimal information to depict who you are on your profile, chances are, you won’t be allowed to join any “closed” groups on LinkedIn, especially “closed” paralegal groups.
An incomplete profile will likely also prevent you from entering into any meaningful networking relationships on LinkedIn. If people can’t tell who you are, where you live and what you do (have done in the past or are interested in doing in the future), what’s the point? Don’t allow a scant or blank profile to deter you from fully utilizing your networking capabilities. If you’re going to join LinkedIn — then actually “join” in– and create a meaningful profile!
I have noticed an increase in articles about the detriments of social media where it involves what someone has said; more precisely what they were “caught” having said. Social media is a tool, like most things, that can be used for good or bad. People say very interesting things online.
The Paralegal Society is a closed group consisting of members who joined by invitation or by request and acceptance. Comments made in this forum are private, seen only by other members. The direct opposite is true of open groups. When someone posts a comment in an open group it is possible that what was said not only will be seen by thousands, if not millions of people, but whatever the person said is captured. Therefore, you must be mindful of your online presence. Does that mean you can’t network or leave honest comments? Absolutely not. However, it does mean that you should be mindful of whether you are joining “open” or “closed” groups so you’ll know how easily accessible your comments and discussions will be to the LinkedIn world and the public at large.
All that is being asked is that you give everyone a chance to get to know you, see how great you are, and appreciate you for your training, experience, and success; by completing a profile. There’s no request for invasive information and you don’t have to tell everyone your life story. You control the information that is put out there, so there’s really no way to go wrong! It’s really easy once you get it started. Now go build that profile!
Jennifer is a recent honors graduate of the School of Justice Studies at Rasmussen College in Eagan Prairie, Minnesota where she earned an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies. She also has a Paralegal Certificate from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and a Diploma of Arts in Religion, Pastoral Church Leadership from Valor Christian College in Columbus, Ohio. She has worked in the area of administrative support in the legal arena for over 14 years. Jennifer is proud to have interned at The Supreme Court of Ohio earlier this year and is pursuing a career in her field, more specifically in the Litigation and Corporate Law practice areas. She is currently the Executive Assistant for the CEO of TeamMed, LLC in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
Is there another reason why you should have a complete and professional profile? Do you have an additional thought or tip you’d like to share with us? If so, please leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you.
Misty Sheffield said:
This article is excellent, practical advice. When I meet other legal professionals in person, I almost always follow up with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. It is an easy way to say “It was nice to meet you” and the LinkedIn connection serves as an electronic business card. It makes a very favorable impression on me when I find that someone I just met has beat me to sending the LinkedIn invitation. Thanks for the article.
Thank you Misty! I agree, legal professionals are on Linkedin, that’s the reason we want to make a best first impression. Your invitation to connect not only says “it was nice to meet you” it also says I want to stay in touch with you, I want to stay connected, I care about your business, I want to introduce you to some of my connections that may be helpful to you…many things. One of my college professors who is an attorney really encouraged Linkedin and the Career Services also pushes setting up profiles on Linkedin even before graduation.
The Paralegal Society said:
I completely agree with you, Misty! I do the same thing.
I like to view a person’s profile when they approach for advice (whether it’s privately or via a group post), so I can see what they have done in the past (or currently, even if they are a student) and where they are from. A paralegal in Florida or California is not the same as a paralegal in the midwest in many regards and the type of designation and/or school you might suggest could vary depending upon a person’s location. It can be difficult to network with someone if you don’t know much about them! Thanks for posting a comment, Misty! ~ Jamie
Rodney Lumpkins said:
Good article Jennifer!
I would also encourage LinkedIn users to be active in their networks once their profile has been completed. Too often I see people get their profile updated and disappear. That’s not networking. Once a member of a group, the user needs to be involved in the online discussions, submit links to articles of interest to the group, or simply post questions or comments. Having your profile updated and not participating in the group discussions, is like attending a networking event, standing silent and camouflaged in the darkest corner of the room. Yes, you are in attendance, but no one would ever know but you. In my opinion, LinkedIn users should try to post or reply to a post of some sort at least once every two weeks. Keeping in mind that you are what you post (this includes typos)!
Good luck everyone. Kudos to the Paralegal Soceity! You’re doing great work!
It’s almost like people have a check list and on it is “create a Linkedin profile” then once it’s done they check it off and move on, forgetting to keep up with connections and groups etc…
I love your analogy of the silent, invisible person who expects to be noticed in a dark corner–saying nothing. I think it is about responsibility in a sense (being a part of something means taking on the responsibility to keep up with it). Replying to a post or commenting is what it’s all about. There’s no discussion if people are not responding.
The Paralegal Society said:
You make some great points, Rodney. While it can be intimidating to begin posting when you initially join LinkedIn, the only way you get more comfortable with posting is by actually doing it!! If you are a newbie poster, I would recommend that you start out by typing your posts in Word (so you can use spell and grammar check), proof read your comment well several times, then post away!! Bonus tip: Try not to hold your breath too long the first time you post! Trust me, we all can relate to this experience, yet, it is something you can overcome with practice via posting…so post!
Thanks for your kind words regarding The Paralegal Society, Rodney! It’s good to see you “around” our forum! Hope all is well in your corner of the world. ~ Jamie
Mariana Fradman said:
Great article, Jennifer! Thank you for posting it.
When I meet new members of New York City Paralegal Association or speak with students, one of my first questions is always “Are you on LinkedIn?”. My next two are (yes, you guessed them right): “Is your profile completed?” and “When did you post last time?” Most of the time, the responses vary from “What is LinkedIn” to “Yes, I created it, but didn’t check the site since…”.
LinkedIn is one of the greatest tools a professional can use to network and learn. It is also a free tool. So why not to use it to your advantage?
I agree that Linkedin is great for networking and learning (for me especially learning). It is a good practice to keep students on their toes by asking these questions to ignite their thinking. I know adults who are professionals, but seem to be shy about creating a profile, much less connecting and chatting. Maybe I should get you on them! 🙂