How would you like to engage via Twitter the 200 largest businesses in your community, as well as the top four executives of each company?

There’s obvious value in it, and I’ve heard it from lawyers themselves. A senior lawyer in a large law firm in Portland told me by following business leaders and companies in the community he was able to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. He found this especially valuable in the IP arena, where companies were especially apt to be using technology to network.

So, where to start? With a Twitter list it’s fairly easy to do.

  • Get a list of the largest companies in your city. I saw a recent article in one of the business journals referencing such a list for their metro area. If not the business journal, try the Chamber or just Google “largest employers in Smithtown.”
  • Hire a high schooler (preferably your own) or an intern to do the following work.
  • Have the person helping you log into Twitter under your account.
  • Create a new list in your Twitter account marked “largest employers.” To learn more about setting up Twitter lists,  check out Twitter’s help page regarding lists.
  • Google the name of the company and the word  “Twitter” to identify and click to the first company’s Twitter handle.
  • Add the company to your “largest employers” list by clicking on the little circle cog next to the follow icon on the company’s Twitter page.
  • Repeat for the other companies.
  • Google the name of each company with the title of each of the top executives plus the word Twitter. CEO, CFO, CMO and COO.
  • Add each of those you find to have a Twitter account to your Twitter list.
  • Follow the list when you have time and favorite, retweet or reply to a company or executive tweet as you feel appropriate. Maybe it’s a company acknowledging one of their employee’s local civic work. Or an executive sharing a local news story or commenting on a local pro sports team.

You’ll be engaging executives from afar to start but this engagement will lead to LinkedIn connections, conversations and luncheon meetings.

Your tweets about a company stand a good chance to be recognized by the company’s social media manager and circulated around the company by email. Social media managers or interns are often low on the totem pole and are only too glad to demonstrate their relevance through a local leader—you—recognizing their company’s social media presence.

How many other lawyers in your town will be doing this? Probably none. You’ll be flying under the radar as far as your competition is concerned. You’ll be dancing with companies and executives while they’re slugging it out the old way trying to meet people and build relationships.

Twitter is a powerful business development tool when used strategically and effectively. Twitter lists are a powerful way to do so.