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Lawyers and social media : It’s the big 3

December 14, 2008

Social media and social networking is the all the buzz in the lawyer marketing world. Every place I presented this year on ‘Social Networking for Law Firms’ told me they had the largest attendance, or close to the largest, they’ve ever had. And it’s not my looks.

At the first few presentations I tried to cover a mindmap of social networking tools. I talk fast and that just got me talking faster. Covering 20 different social networking mediums is not the best use of an hour. And when I was catching my breath, a smart attendee would ask, ‘If you were me, what 2 or 3 things would you make use of today and go to a law firm with?’

Good question. Obvious answer for me. Blogs. Twitter. LinkedIn. Use those three effectively and you can take over the world.

In the world of a lawyer that means doing the type of work you love and for the types of clients you enjoy doing it for. If not becoming a rock star in your field, then at least becoming a lawyer’s lawyer. You know, the person you call from time to time as a mentor who always has lots of good work and charges more for time than you could ever imagine charging.

Blogs? Got to have one. How else can you develop a central place where clients, prospective clients, and the influencers (bloggers, media, and social media hounds) pick up on your passion, philosophy, reasoning, and skill? How do you get seen when people search for info? You think I’m picking a pig in the poke by reading a lawyer profile on a website or Martindale? That’s nuts.

Twitter? Single biggest learning, brand building, network expanding, and reputation enhancing tool for me this year. Twitter’s influence is what took me off this blog so much in the last couple months. Twitter is no longer an experiment for me. Like Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble, I’d rather go without my cell phone for a week than Twitter.

Some people will tell you Twitter is a waste of time. Ignore them. Twitter, like everything I’ve discovered on the Internet in this crazy last 13 years, was confusing as all get out when I first tried it. You get less confused by playing with something. Playing for a lot of people is called a waste of time. But you don’t grow by not goofing around. Ask Google.

If you haven’t watched the brief Scoble video interviewing Kawasaki, do so. Guy talks about other things, but Twitter is what amazes him. ‘I think Twitter is, arguably, the most powerful branding mechanism since television.’ Guy says that Alltop would be nothing without Twitter.

LinkedIn? LinkedIn has won the professional social networking/directory space. The race is over. I get invites from professionals inviting me to join their network elsewhere. Other than LinkedIn and Facebook I ignore them.

Lawyers can get into esoteric discussions about the features they like in Plaxo. You can be build gated communities only allowing approved legal professionals ala Legal Onramp or Martindale-Hubbell Connected (first social community trying to create buzz without even launching). They may have some great features, but they do not have 900,000 professionals joining a week. 50 million professionals in hundreds of industries that can easily be met and networked with is way too good to pass up.

People will tell you they have joined LinkedIn and not gotten any new business. Ignore them. Some lawyers wouldn’t know how to take someone out for lunch or a beer. Using LinkedIn effectively (connecting, answers, discussions, groups) is a gift that keeps on giving.

First thing I do when I get a lawyer’s name is Google their name + LinkedIn. A LinkedIn profile tells me more about that lawyer than their law firm profile ever will. I don’t want marketing spin from your copy person.

If your LinkedIn profile has hardly any info and a few connections, that tells me more. That you’re not very innovative, you don’t grasp new technology, that you use less effective ways of networking and client development. If I’m a go getting client with an innovative business I’m passing on you.

New years resolutions? You could do worse than saying I am going to blog, Tweet, and network on LinkedIn.