Talking to long time lawyer and now business development coach, Cordell Parvin, last week he said something that really resonated with me. That being that the formula for client development success for lawyers used to be “It’s not just what you know — it’s who you know.” Now, with the advent of social media, Cordell says “It’s not just what you know — it’s who knows what you know.”

That’s so true – both for me personally, and for the lawyers I see achieving rockstar status in their niche via the effective use of social media. We get to be known not just by what we know, but by all the people who know what we know. And it’s not just more people knowing what we know, it’s hundreds of highly respected people sharing word of what we know with others – others who happen to be in our target audience.

People, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of organizations they work for, hire lawyers who are not only smart, but also who are viewed as thought leaders in their field. People are looking to hire lawyers who have influence. Influence among their peers – peers not of the lawyer, but peers of the person purchasing legal services. And influence among people who influence the people who hire lawyers – bloggers, reporters, association leaders, conference coordinators and the like.

How do you get more people to know what you know and view you as a thought leader? Use social media, leading with blogging, and continuing with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like. Rather than shouting out content which lawyers are apt to do, engage in the existing conversation by sharing your insight and commentary on things already being discussed.

Reference on your blog what is being written elsewhere and offer value to what is being written. In effect, you’ll be joining a conversation. You’ll get seen by the people you are referencing.

What you say on your blog and Twitter will start to get mentioned by the influential people you are referencing. You’ll get seen more often by your clients, prospective clients, and those people who influence them – such as reporters who will call you and conference coordinators who will ask you to speak at events attended by prospective clients.

In addition to just getting seen, you’ve got more people out there spreading word of what you know. When someone shares what you’ve said with an audience who trusts them, you’ve picked up an endorsement that you’re a respected professional in your niche. The person doing the sharing wouldn’t have referenced you and what you said if you were not.

LexBlog has in large part been built on who knows what I know. By sharing information, insight, and commentary of interest to my target audience over the last seven years, I’ve built a brand. A brand that I know something about networking through the Internet for successful client development. Not only do people what I know, but they are sharing with others that I know something about blogs and other forms of social media.

I don’t say this to impress you. I say it to impress upon you that successful businesses and brands (including your brand as a leading lawyer) are built upon who knows what you know. I also want to impress upon you that if I can do this with half the brain power of most other lawyers, that you can easily get out and get more people to know what you know.