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Social media anonymity in the legal profession is a losing proposition

Social Media Networking for Lawyers Anonymity I run across a lot of ‘people’ in the legal profession who blog, publish websites, twitter, and the like who do so with anonymity.

The foundation of social media and social networking is trust. We share information from those we trust. We build relationships with people we trust. I have a heck of a hard time trusting people who will not tell anyone their name.

  • What are they trying to hide?
  • Are they a kid in the basement?
  • Did they do some bad stuff in their past life and are now trying to resurrect themselves by pseudonym?
  • Are they a competitor where it’s only human nature to be ‘on guard’ when building a relationship?
  • If I cite or share their commentary and they’re wrong, can’t they just walk away with no damage to their name?

Those are the things that go through my mind when I see their stuff on the net. I think the average person feels the same way.

As I learned the art of blogging and blog design over the last 6 years, I found the most important link on each blog page to be the link to the ‘About’ page.

The most trafficked page on my blog is my About page. My ‘About’ page tells people who I am and why I do what I do. It’s only polite when asking someone to read my content that I pay them the courtesy of telling them who I am. It allows readers to decide if I have enough ‘street creds’ to merit following. Readers can decide if they trust me enough to share what I have to say.

A habit of mine, going back to when I got on the net in 1996, is to first click on the ‘About’ section of any website. Who are these guys? What are their names? Where are their offices located? Do they have a phone number if I need to call them? What have they done in the past?

These days I go a step further, I Google individual names – whether they are the founder, principal, officer, employee, publisher, editor, reporter – whatever. I look at LinkedIn profiles. I look at who has cited them by name.

As much as any human can, I try not to be prejudiced by what I find. But in a few minutes I draw some conclusions that often stick with me for a long time. Conclusions formed by a gut decision that tells me whether I can trust this source or company.

Ask yourself who you can learn to trust more. An avatar with a company logo on Twitter? An avatar with a pseudonym for a lawyer on Twitter? Or an avatar with a person’s picture accompanied by their real name?

The Internet for the legal profession is all about networking and building relationships. Relationships built through true engagement with others we grow to trust.

The law is a profession, not just any other business. Our profession is based on reliability and trust.

So while it may feel cute to be anonymous and you may get some short term buzz, it’s a losing proposition in the long run. Trust me.