Those of you following me on Twitter know that I follow lots of news sources, especially those that pertain to networking through the Internet, and share them with my followers. Some days I may share as many as 10 or 15 stories.

Each time I share a news story on Twitter I give attribution to the reporter who wrote the story. I do so by placing the reporter’s Twitter username in parentheses following the Tweet (usually the title of the story) and before the link (shortened by bit.ly). Sometimes I’ll also include the name of the newspaper, magazine, or news website, in which case I refer to the appropriate section of the newspaper too.

I find the reporter’s and the appropriate section of the news publication via the ‘Find People‘ section of Twitter.

An example of such a Tweet would be: ‘The end of the world will come this Wednesday. (@sallyreporter in @wsjtech) http://bit.ly/ubc123′

A couple reasons for giving such attribution. One, it’s common courtesy. It’s been part of Internet protocol since I started using the net 14 years ago to cite your source by linking to them. Despite the decline of print publication and mainstream media, reporters and columnists are kicking out some great stuff of value to your audience. They should be given appropriate credit.

The second reason is to engage the reporter and news source. As a lawyer, you want to build relationships with the mainstream media. Reporters and editors are influencers of your core target audience of clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. Their stories also other influencers of your core target audience – bloggers, other reporters, conference coordinators, association leaders, and publishers.

How else are reporters or a particular section of a newspaper going to know you linked to their story on Twitter if you don’t give them attribution like the above? They’re not, unless you bring in such a huge amount of traffic to their story via your Tweet that they start looking for you in their referral logs. That’s unlikely in the case of a legal profession using Twitter.

Newspapers and other mainstream media are trying to get their stories shared on social media. Especially with the type of demographic audience a legal professional can draw on Twitter. People and companies who can afford lawyers. Lawyers, financial professionals, business leaders, and association heads. Who wouldn’t want their stories to be seen by that audience?

Letting a reporter or editor know you shared their story on Twitter is effectively giving them an ‘attaboy, good story this morning.’ It feels good to get attaboys. I know I like it when people tell me they liked a blog post of mine.

A reporter’s boss may even be impressed by the reporter’s story getting spread on social media. Their boss could be breathing down their neck to prove that social media, including Twitter, offers some ROI to their publication.

Reporters and editors are just like you and me. They like being social. They like meeting people. They like doing business with the people they know and who have been nice to them. Not only is it enjoyable for you, as a lawyer, to meet media people, it can mean being called on for resources or quotes for stories.

There are other ways to build relationships with the media through Twitter. One being to set up a column for targeted mainstream media and to retweet relevant Tweets of theirs.

But sharing news stories of interest that you pick up in your newsreader and giving the appropriate attribution is a a good place to start.