Although still rather new, Google+ (or Google Plus as it is sometimes referred) has already overtaken Twitter to become the second-biggest social network behind Facebook. Google has cultivated a highly interactive platform where unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you don't need to befriend or connect to an individual or business before starting a conversation with them.

For this and many other reasons, Google+ can be a very valuable platform for those looking to showcase their expertise and connect with potential employers, or simply build their network.

In this resource we shall look at how best to market oneself for job opportunities as well as the unique features of Google+ available to the adventurous and hungry.

Google+ is a growing area for lawyers with new members, communities and firms joining every day. As Google+ becomes more important for businesses (not just legal firms) promoting their visibility, it is becoming a useful tool for lawyers and solicitors to connect with them and uncover potential job opportunities.

Without further ado, let's get you up and running…

Setting up your profile

In order to set up a Google+ profile you will need a Google account. However, if you have a Gmail/YouTube account or use Google's calendar or Google Docs – in fact almost all of Google's products – you will already have one.

Else, you will need to sign up for one by going to Google's homepage, clicking sign-in and following the set up instructions.

When setting up your profile for the first time you will be asked for basic information such as name, date of birth and a profile photo. Due to the nature of Google+ and what you will likely be using it for (e.g. connecting with peers, showcasing expertise and engaging with potential employers), using fake information here won't do you any favours.

Optimising your profile

a. Imagery

Profile imagery consists of a profile photo and a cover image (much like Facebook). You will want to make sure these photos are true to you and your personality but also conform to professional standards – remember, potential employees may study your profile!

Use a suitable profile picture such as a head shot on a plain background (minimum 250x250 pixels). You may wish to use the same profile image for other professional profiles across the web so that your personal “brand” becomes recognisable.

Upload a cover image in the dimensions of 2120 px by 1192 px. Google+ will automatically re-size this for you to fit.

Google+ cover picture

b. Bio/About

You will want to create a fully rounded profile of yourself by clicking into your “About” tab. This is a chance to sell yourself as an authority on your area of expertise. There are a number of pre-defined sections for you to complete including;

  • Tagline
  • Introduction
  • Current occupation
  • Skills
  • Employment history
  • Location
  • Education
  • Contact details
  • Links & Contributor to…

Like your LinkedIn profile, you want to be as detailed as possible. This not only helps you to be found by prospective employers and head hunters, but make you stand out from the crowd.

c. Hovercard

Your Hovercard is the interactive image that is produced when someone hovers over your link in Google+ (as shown below). This is your chance to give a brief overview of what you have to offer and a chance to entice people to follow you.

The Hovercard consists of 3 editable elements; the cover image, profile image and tagline. Take time to craft something engaging.

Google+ hovercard

By all means be creative but we recommend following the advice within this article to create an appealing Hovercard.

d. Authorship

For those that run a website or contribute to a blog, Google+ has an added benefit. By connecting the two together you can obtain stand-out “rich snippets” in the search results which not only command a better click-through rate (more traffic) but includes additional credibility information about you drawn from your Google+ profile.

Google+ authorship

Authorship is relatively easy to set up, just follow the instructions in this video: http://youtu.be/9P1s5LQq_xc

e. Vanity URL

By default, when you set up your Google+ profile the URL assigned to your profile will look like a jumble of unfriendly numbers (e.g. https://plus.google.com/u/0/113196938031294378772). After some activity you may be offered a “vanity URL” (e.g. https://plus.google.com/+ejlegal).

To claim this, go to your “About” section and scroll down to the “Links” card. Below the header “Google+ URL” there will be a “Get URL” link. Click this to claim your chosen URL (limitations apply).

Google vanity url

Posting guide

Interviews are designed, among other things, to gauge how passionate you are about working for the company and within the industry. Pre-emptively express this passion by sharing relevant news, and posting information and articles within your feed.

Giving your own views on stories and news helps demonstrate a strong, knowledgeable personality and keeps you up to date with the latest progressions and stories in the industry. This will also keep you informed for any topical interview questions that might come up.

Google posting guide

Quick tips

  • Post publicly rather than to circles. Public posts can rank in search engine results which is a good way of getting extra exposure – but beware of posting content that could conflict with the interests of your employer/future employer/peers and associates.
  • Familiarise yourself with the different formatting options available to you such as bold, italics, strike-throughs and bullet points.
  • Have a look at what other people/peers are doing on Google+ and “borrow” ideas that seem to be doing well.
  • Post/share regularly. No-one follows barren or out-of-date profiles.
  • If you mess up a post (typo, wrong formatting etc) you can edit it. In the top-right of the post click the arrow and “Edit” from the drop-down menu.
  • Visual content works very well on Google+ as opposed to links and text-only posts, which tend to get less engagement. When posting on Google+ you can attach various mediums such as links, videos, events and large images by clicking the icons below the text box.

Google visual content

Things to avoid

  • Not plus-mentioning people when you talk about them, or giving credit where credit is due. If you quote somebody, use their image, have been inspired by another, learn something from someone else or discovered awesome content via somebody else a plus-mention is always appreciated! Simply type the plus symbol (+) immediately followed by their name and select them from the options - this is a great way to start conversations!
  • Sharing a link or a post without your own spin or viewpoint. The value of sharing something is infinitely increased when you add your own commentary. Why are you sharing it? Why should people click on it? Do you agree with what is said? Do you have anything to add?
  • Sending email notifications for every post. Google+ gives you the option to notify people of your post by email (tick the box below the text box) but if you do it regularly it simply becomes spamming and is a quick way to get yourself muted. Only use this feature selectively and only if you know they will want to be notified of such a post.
  • Posting empty comments. By that we mean "great post" "thanks" or "I like this". There are times where a "thanks" will suffice but try and get creative where you can - you never know what it will lead to!
  • Not acknowledging shares of your content or mentions. Google+ makes it so easy for you to listen to your fans and followers talking about you and respond. It's just common courtesy if someone goes out of their way to share your post to their audience along with some nice words (and from a business point of view, this one is crucial!)
  • Always sharing your own stuff and not others. Google+ is a community which means it's not just about Me, Me, Me!

Communities

The legal industry is surprisingly prevalent on Google+ which can be seen to full effect in the strength and number of lawyer and law communities. Engaging with like-minded people in the communities is a great way to build up your following for the simple reason that it gets you far more exposure.

For instance, if you have 100 followers and post something to your profile only a maximum of 100 people will see that post. However, if you post the same thing to a community of 1,000 - 2,000, in theory that many can see your post and engage with it, as well as following you if they don't already.

Popular communities include:

 

Quick tips:

  • Add value to the community - either post relevant questions that everyone can learn from, start insightful discussions on interesting topics or be there to help others out. Make sure your responses add actual value to the thread and avoid responses like "I agree!" "Well said" or "Good post". +1's are nice to give and receive but meaningful comments and feedback is better!
  • Read the community guidelines (unique to each community) before participating. Many will penalise you for sharing your own content on a regular basis or generally spamming the community, however...
  • Be a good team player and share relevant and interesting content from around the web

Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free, unique feature to Google+ and essentially is a multi-person video conferencing suite. Hangouts can be used privately as a communication tool or “Hangouts on Air” can be broadcast publically to an engaged audience and even recorded to YouTube as a non-live video.

Google posting guide Watch this Google Hangout

Hangouts can be a great way to connect with others in the legal industry and build your network while discussing interesting topics. Whether conducting your own or joining others (such as Legally Speaking), Hangouts are a fast track way to boost your following and establish yourself as a knowledgeable and authoritative individual in the industry.

For more information on Hangouts, check out Google's video.

Find and Follow People

The essence of Google+ is in finding and connecting with new people. Where Facebook is a place to stay in touch with your friends and family and LinkedIn allows you to stay in touch with colleagues and professional connections, Google+ is all about finding new, like-minded people to engage with. Additionally, these people can be segmented into “circles” which means you can streamline your (multiple) feeds for a better experience.

For instance you may wish to have a “legal experts” circle in addition to a “friends and family” circle so that you can dip into each feed as necessary in order to see relevant posts.

To find people:

  • Trawl communities for interesting and bright members
  • See who is in the circles of influential (go to their profile stream and check out the “In their circles” card just below their cover photo)
  • Participate in relevant hangouts and follow audience members that seem interesting
  • Check out your favourite legal blogs and sites and see if the authors are on Google+
  • Hover over the fly-out menu on the left side of your profile and click “People” – this will give you an option to find people based on keywords, location, colleagues, Gmail contacts and Google's suggested list based on your interests.
  • For more tips on using the Google+ Search bar to find people, check out this resource.

Engage with Peers, Industry Leaders & Prospective Employer Pages

Connect and comment on their posts & profiles if you have something interesting to say. Demonstrate expertise and get on as many radars as possible, you never know what it could lead to. Utilise the sharing functionality within Google+ and learn the importance of plus-mentioning sources.

Summary

Google+ has penetrated and gained critical mass in a number of industries and the legal industry is definitely one of them. Additionally, Google+ has many of the great features that make LinkedIn great for sourcing candidates for legal roles. For these reasons, recruiters are increasingly adding Google+ as a source for headhunting and outreaching to potential suitable candidates for roles.

On top of this, law firms are quickly building a presence on the platform in an effort to win more business, build a wider network and keep a pace with the latest developments and news in the industry. This means individuals have a new platform for interacting with firms they admire and getting on the radar of influential peers without the roadblocks that LinkedIn have.

Therefore if you are looking for a new challenge in the legal sector, being active on Google+ should definitely be part of your self-promotion mix. So to re-cap;

  • Ensure your profile attracts followers by looking presentable, attractive and professional
  • Sell yourself by fully utilising the information fields available to you
  • Learn how to publish eye-catching posts that demand attention and to be shared. These will get you on the radar of potential employers
  • Get involved with interesting and relevant communities to fast-track your follower growth – followers suggest authority
  • Understand the power of Hangouts. Whether running or just participating, they can be a goldmine for relationship and authority building
  • Actively seek out interesting people to follow and engage with them – you never know what these relationships could lead to!