In 2020 most people have a profile on at least one of the major social media platforms and barristers are no exception. Many chambers have their own profiles and tag their members of chambers in updates and news. It is not unusual for a barrister to share the “@“ that they tweet or post under on their chambers profile. However, when your profile is not only public but accessible to and geared towards your professional network, it is worth bearing in mind some important essentials to make sure you don’t cost yourself opportunities for work or end up going viral for beating a fox to death with a baseball bat…
Use your real (government) name
This is a simple step but one that can make a huge difference for helping google and other search engines to index your tweets and posts and ensure that when people search your name they find you online. This is particularly helpful where you are discussing legal topics within your chosen specialism as people may come across your profile when conducting research into that area. That is a simple way to boost your profile without having to do much.
There used to be a lot of apprehension over using your real name online and many people post under a pseudonym or a nickname. The obvious downsides to this are that people won’t be able to find you quickly. If you want your profile to help your professional networking and career then I suggest you use your actual name.
A big caveat here is to clean up anything unsavoury that may appear when people search your name. Find and delete your old accounts and ensure that when your name is searched only the things you want appear. There are many different resources you can use to do this, including websites that allow you to delete masses of tweets including those containing particular words or phrases.
Use a good profile picture and use the same picture across platforms
A good quality profile picture is essential because, simply put, people need to know who you are! There is no use making your profile picture an emoji or one that looks nothing like you. A good profile picture is one that is professional and clear. Professional does not necessarily mean that you are in a shiny suit with a stern look on your face, but it does mean that you look clean, respectable and like you work as a professional advocate. No pictures from nights out or on the beach please. Save those for the ‘gram.
Do not lie about anything
The internet is an interesting place because you can, in theory, say whatever you want and someone out there will believe you. However, the danger of being fast with the truth to make yourself look better online is that lawyers tend to be the type to do their due diligence. If you have for example stated on a profile that you were in a more senior position than you actually were in a previous role, it may look good but you are likely to get caught out. There is no need to exaggerate who you are and what you have achieved for the internet. Insecurity can lead people to do and say some pretty strange things online and you should avoid being one of them.
Learn to self-censor
Not everything is appropriate to share online. Be vigilant about thinking twice or thrice about what you post before you do. It is also important to be selectively vulnerable; the internet does not need to know everything about you and your life. It may prevent people from seeing you in the best light or empower them to take advantage of you. You have the opportunity to control your image online so try to exercise caution in order to do this well.
Back yourself and be your own hype team!
Unlike Nicki Minaj with her ‘Barbz’ and Beyoncé with her ‘Beyhive’ or BTS with their ‘Army’, average Joes like us do not have millions of stans online promoting us and sharing our best work with the world. It is up to you to highlight and promote your work and achievements so that your professional network can see how much of a clever barrister you are and ultimately instruct you for work or take you on as a junior.
Simple things like sharing your published articles or speeches, blog posts around legal topics, interviews with media outlets or appearances in reported cases are all essential. If you don’t promote yourself and put yourself out there then who will?
Follow people and interact with them
Lastly, despite being named as such, many people forget that social media is by nature social. It is not only about racking up followers but also about being an active follower of others and growing your network. Dedicate a small portion of time each day or week to like and share posts and comment under them. If you appear to be present and engaged then when you share your own content people will want to engage with you and share it to their network. Social media is very much a game of give and take and is not dissimilar to any IRL relationship you have.
Follow for follow?
Good luck becoming famous and don’t forget to follow me:
Twitter: @BATTHEBAR / @blessingmukosha
IG: @blessingatthebar / @blessingmukosha
Until next time,