By Kevin O'Keefe

The only brand to promote : Your authentic self

Internet entrepreneur and investor, Nathaniel Broughton, penned an interesting piece on the importance of being your authentic self that aptly applies to lawyers and law firms when it comes to social media.

…[T]he only brand you should be promoting through your emails, your tweets, your phone calls and your jeans and shoes, is the real you. It’s too hard to try and censor yourself and still provide maximum value to other people.  I know there are industries where you have to get up and wear a tie and not say naughty words at the office.  That’s fine, if that’s you.  If it’s not, get out of there.  Go where you fit in and go where you can flourish without a filter.

I’m not saying you need to be vulgar to succeed as a lawyer in social media, but let’s bring who you are to the table.

Law firm blog posts written by the firm’s lawyers but then posted in the name of the firm or, worse yet, admin? Big mistake.

Blogging is a conversation. I’m not talking comments going back and forth. I’m talking referencing what you are reading and offering your own insight and commentary.

Blogging is like pulling up a chair to a local, national, or international conversation among subject experts.

By engaging others in the conversation you build your own professional network, learn, and carve out an Internet identity by having others reference what you’re saying in their blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, or items they share on LinkedIn.

A prerequisite to engaging others in a conversation is speaking in a conversational tone and using your own name.

Posting in the law firm’s name or as ‘admin’ lacks authenticity and lacks any conversational tone. It doesn’t work.

It also reflects poorly on your law firm by virtue of putting your not understanding social media on display for the world. That shows poor judgment on you and your firm’s part.

Sillier is a lawyer’s use of a pseudonym or trade name on Twitter.

I recently received a note through Facebook from an interactive media professional, who I believe is otherwise doing a great job for clients.

Hey Kevin-I follow you on Twitter and have a friend who is just now dipping his toe into Social Media. In fact, he has recently set up his Twitter Account. He’s settled many big Class Actions, is a very well respected Expert Witness on a variety of lending cases and one of the biggest rain makers I’ve ever known.

I think you should follow him. @LendingReform

Wow. Who is the person? No name? Yet, he’s supposedly a high powered guy in the class action arena. Why wouldn’t he want people to get to know him by his name?

It’s scary, but this trade name thing, as opposed to the use of one’s real name, is running rampant on Twitter among lawyers.

Good lawyers who get their best work by word of mouth — based on their own name — now going out and getting trade names and pseudonyms on Twitter. They’re doing this as if it’s helping them.

The fact is it’s hurting them and their attempts to use the Internet for business development.

The Internet is just an accelerator of relationships and a lawyer’s word of mouth reputation. The exact same things that have worked offline forever are now just complemented by a lawyer’s networking online.

Networking through Twitter, blogging, Facebook, or LinkedIn to build relationships and extend your word of mouth reputation requires the use of your name. Common sense mandates this. Let alone what works in social media.

The argument that I use my real name for personal social networking and social media and a trade name for my use of social networking/media as a lawyer is a lot of bunk. As a lawyer, you are who you are.

  • You meet and talk with people using your own name.
  • You build relationships in your own name.
  • The word of mouth reputation you have is in your own name.
  • People hire you as a lawyer in your name.
  • People refer other clients to you using your name.

Don’t check your common sense at the door when you enter the Internet as a lawyer.

Be who you are. Be your authentic self. And please — use your own name.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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