20130617-215859.jpg All too many lawyers stiffen up when it comes to blogging and the use of social media. Rather than being themselves, they clam up and hide behind rules and policies designed to protect lawyers from themselves.

The result is many dry and unpassionate blogs that report news and legal updates without any insight, commentary, or personality. Heck, even Walter Cronkite signed off each night with a wink and departing catchphrase “And that’s the way it is,” followed by the date.

Most lawyers engage little, if at all, on LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s the dry sharing of a piece of content — usually their own. No commenting back and forth or liking, in the case of LinkedIn. Heck, lawyers don’t even personalize invitations to connect on LinkedIn.

Facebook? For many lawyers this is uncharted ground. What are they missing? Pictures of family members. Sharing and liking of accomplishments in our personal lives. A few goosebumps even. The stuff relationships are made of.

Chris Abraham (@chrisabraham), a leading social media marketing and digital PR professional, challenges those trying to use social media to learn to lower their social media inhibitions. You’ll get a lot further by being the real you.

…[I]t doesn’t matter how much money you’ve spent on ads or on an SEO consultant or even the way-too-many-tens-of-thousands of dollars you’ve spent on a gorgeous, perfect brochureware website.

……

It’s time to get over yourself and do it now. While shamelessness and fearlessness might not be the right answer for you, it would surely be worthwhile to find ways of loosening up, lowering your inhibitions, and getting to know the online community you have and want. Do so openly, honestly, and with the goal of growing your audience and amplifying your own good message.

A few lawyers and I had a discussion over at LinkedIn today regarding Abraham’s post. The consensus was that it was virtually impossible to draw a line between professional and personal when online today. No matter where you’re engaging people, what you’re saying will be seen.

As a result, lawyers have stage fright. Law firms even teach and mandate this fear.

I shared that it’s much like my fear of the press when I started practicing law. What would I sound like? What would I look like? What if I was misquoted? Could I see what you write before it goes to print?

I got over my inhibitions and realized the press was my best friend. I began to speak to reporters with passion and conviction. I had fun. It’s how I got known and how I expressed my positions.

Many lawyers aren’t comfortable getting out and mixing in professional settings. They’d rather be in the office cranking out work. The same is true online.

“Shyness, stage fright, and general inhibitions of being of being self-conscious,” as Abraham describes it, are holding many people back on social media. No doubt, many lawyers.

Be yourself. Be genuine. Be authentic. You’ll be amazed by what it will get you as far as a following, a word of mouth reputation, and relationships.

You’ll be a shining star among lawyers who fear being genuine.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ramblurr.