Law firm networkingI was speaking to a reporter from Montreal on Friday afternoon. He wanted to know why social media, including blogging, was becoming so popular for lawyers.

I fell back on what’s becoming increasingly more clear to me. I explained the best lawyers have always gotten their best work by word of mouth. To generate a word of mouth buzz about what you do as a lawyer (and that you do a nice job of it), you have to network with your target audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and those people who influence those three groups.

I continued by explaining that with the Internet driving all commerce today, networking is done online as opposed to offline.

Good lawyers who have gotten their work by word of mouth need to move their networking online. Otherwise their word of mouth reputation is going to dry up. May take some time to lose their hard earned reputation being spread by word of mouth, but it’ll happen.

Knowing these things, I explained lawyers and law firms who are still growing their reputations and their business are looking to network through the Internet. The concept of networking remains the same. It’s just where that networking takes place has moved – from offline to online.

Blogging, Twitter, and popular social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook are just a means of networking – a way to locate your audience, listen to them, and engage with that audience. The result being a word of mouth reputation which brings in new clients and keeps the clients you have. An added kicker is the fact that online networking is like networking on steroids compared to offline networking.

When your partners and law firm management question the use of blogs and social media, take them back to the future. Ask them if they’ve always gotten their best work by word of mouth. Ask them if that word of mouth reputation was earned by networking. See if they agree that the Internet is driving commerce today – or at least increasingly doing so.

Then advise, rather than sticking your collective heads in the sand and hoping that the Internet will pass, that your law firm must take the safe and prudent route to protect what you have. That’s to continue networking to maintain that word of mouth of reputation. The only difference will be networking online.

Sure, there will be some learning along the way. Blogs, Twitter, social media, and social networking are foreign concepts to most law firms. But the concept of networking to grow that word of mouth reputation to grow business remains the same.