"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you'll do things differently" Warren Buffett.

I recently ran a "Creating Personal Impact" session for senior professionals – you can read my blog about it here.  We agreed that when developing your personal brand, it is equally as important to develop your online presence, but people didn't feel confident about how to do it or how could they build an online presence that matched their physical presence?

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional online network and it is a great way to enhance your brand.  There are more than 467 million LinkedIn users, across more than 200 countries. Every second, there are 2 new LinkedIn members, so if you're not on it yet, you could be the next one.

Why bother with LinkedIn if you are an in-house lawyer?

If you are interested in raising your profile internally and interested in developing relationships with suppliers, then LinkedIn is a great way to do that.  According to LinkedIn, 48% of LinkedIn members view their colleagues LinkedIn profiles so they can find out more about them. So if you do want to develop relationships further and improve you profile, here are a few tips;-

5 tips to building your brand online

  1. Consider what you want to be known for and bear that in mind when writing your profile; apparently the most over-used word is "motivated" so try and avoid it!  Remember that your legal expertise will be a given. Consider how someone would describe you if you weren't in the room.  It's an interesting exercise to undertake. Do your colleagues perceive you in the same way as you do? Why do your clients like working with you? Those are the traits you want to shout about.
  2. Be consistent in terms of your style and the way you present yourself - how you look and how you act online determines how others perceive you. Having the wrong style of profile photo can result in potential clients feeling unsure about your level of professionalism and expertise.
  3. Make an effort to post valuable content or interact with others, not just "one hit wonders." Think about the people you want to engage, what is of interest to them? If you want to post regularly, I find it helpful to prepare a timetable of dates and then push myself towards meeting those deadlines.
  4. If you are posting regularly, make sure you monitor the activity around your posts, how many people have read it? Any likes or dislikes? Tracking your posts will help you identify the content that is useful for the audience you want to engage.
  5. Connect with the right people, be selective, it’s not about how many contacts, it’s about the quality of the contacts – build a network that you want to engage with, that inspire you, that support you with your role and that share insight and opportunities with you.

Want to get noticed?

Research shows that your profile is 21 times more likely to be viewed if you have a professional photo.  I have seen so many "leisure" profile photos on LinkedIn akin to those you would post on Facebook but different audiences deserve different messages.  What sort of impression are you trying to create? Starting there and work back. 

Keeping your profile current

40% of users use LinkedIn daily, so it's important to update your profile. We recommend you update your profile every 3-4 months.  We all know how time flies by and so why not put a reminder in your diary to spend a couple of hours ensuring your information is relevant and current?

Remember to use a recent photo!  I would be a millionaire by now if I'd received a pound for every time I'd seen one of my colleagues use a photo of themselves which was at least 5 years older than their current image!

As we make conscious decisions to develop our own brand and choose to display certain characteristics, we should put the same time and effort into ensuring that our online presence is similar and consistent to our brand - perception should match reality!