I agree with Seattle blogger, Mollie Ruiz-Hopper, that Twitter is becoming essential for developing a unique personal brand. The question asked by most folks, including lawyers, is how to use Twitter to develop and extend my reputation. For lawyers, extending your reputation as a trusted and reliable authority in a niche area of the law is key to business development. Ruiz-Hopper penned a piece this morning for Seattle’s Nology Media on ‘How to Advance Your Brand on Twitter‘ which provides six tips that I thought worth sharing. Here they are, with my liberal annotation and editing.

  1. Transparency is key in building and maintaining a strong reputation. You need to be yourself whether you’re behind your computer screen, tweeting from your phone or networking and meeting people face to face. If your personality isn’t parallel to what you project online, you’re going to run into trouble. Being open and transparent helps people to relate to you. For you as a lawyer that means using your name, or some slight abbreviation of it. Using a pseudonym, ie, IllinoisBizLawyer, is the opposite of transparency and is going to hamper relationships and the extension of your reputation.
  2. Posting great content. What you share should to be interesting and engaging for others to read. This does not mean that all of the content needs to be your content nor does it mean you have to share news or facts all the time. Coming off as personable and easy to talk to is just as important, so it’s ok to share personal interests whether that be as a mom or a football fan. Finding a balance between sharing things you enjoy, conversing with others, retweeting your favorite personality and posting interesting information is all part of building your presence online. Quality content, remember that.
  3. Choose a focus and become an authority. Share news and information relevant to your niche area of the law. You will gain the trust of others who will follow you to stay abreast of relevant information on your niche. As you focus on your niche and build trust, people will retweet your content, share your blog posts, and begin to come to you for advice.
  4. Humility and kindness. This may seem self-explanatory, but making sure that you are a gracious and kind person online – and in person — is what will gain you the trust and respect of others. Some professionals thank people for visiting their blog or for retweeting what they tweeted. Check out the bios on LinkedIn of people who follow you on Twitter and try remembering special details about them, because you never know when you’ll cross pass paths online or meet in person. People appreciate being remembered.
  5. Write a catchy bio. You have exactly 140 characters to tell the world who you are, so make it catchy and interesting. You can describe your interests, your job or maybe a quirky quote that describes you. Include your location and some kind of link where people can find out more information about you. Your link as a professional can be to your blog, website bio, or LinkedIn bio. If you want to be taken seriously online, including a link is encouraged.
  6. Be social and go out. Offline, attend different events that are relevant to your interests. Online, network with professionals you meet on Twitter, via LinkedIn or blogging. Establishing yourself as a brand, offline and online, is letting people put a face to the name. Nothing can compare to real life face to face interaction, so attending industry conferences and local business or charitable events as well as getting out for coffee or lunch to meet so that people have the opportunity to talk with you is vital.

Don’t get me wrong about Twitter. Twitter is not the easiest thing in the world to grasp. Many legal professionals don’t even try Twitter because they don’t get it. Others who have failed to learn how to use Twitter for professional and business development have given up on using it. But I’m with author, venture capitalist, and start-up evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, who said almost two and half years ago that “Twitter is, arguably, the most powerful branding mechanism since television.” The key for you as a lawyer is learning how to use Twitter in a way that allows you to develop and expand a strong reputation as a reliable and trusted authority in your niche area of the law or locale.