How to talk to people on the internet like a normal person

Miami Criminal Attorney, Brian Tannebaum, in a post entitled ‘The Definitive Guide to Social Media for Lawyers‘ at Above The Law explains how lawyers ought talk to people on the internet like a normal person.

Same way you do offline — people see what you do, what you say, take an interest, and when they need a referral, maybe they’ll think of you. They won’t think of you simply because you are constantly in their face with your business card.

Would you stand in a room with a megaphone and tell people what you do over and over again? I know, some of you would. But if you wouldn’t, don’t do it on social media.

There is no need to create a social media “strategy.” Anyone who tells you this is in the business of selling social media strategy. Don’t have one. If you do, it’s obvious, and it’s a turn off. Open your accounts, talk to people, have your profile speak for what you do.

Like any business development effort, you need to have a strategy. What areas of law amI going to practice? What do I enjoy doing? What I am I going to dedicate a lot of time and effort to so I am a good lawyer? Who do you mingle among and network with to get the possible referrals Tannebaum discusses.

But to develop a social media strategy aside and apart from what you do offline, I’m in agreement with Tannebaum. Offline and online is one and the same.

Sure, learn to use social media, it’s an art. Social media, used effectively, can accelerate networking and relationship building, the type of activity that leads to referrals. Learning to use a cell phone did the same, but we didn’t have a cell phone strategy.

Some how lawyers have construed a social media strategy to mean developing a method to sell their wares, push content at people, tout their accolades, and develop a brand (often a brand name other than their real name). That’s not what social media is about.

As to Twitter, per Tannebaum?

Open an account. Talk to people.

I know, you’re thinking, “Talk to people? I need to sell to people!”


Don’t spend your Twitter time linking to your website, and don’t listen to your SEO guy who tells you he will set up various accounts to post links to your website under fake names. You’re a lawyer, an officer of the court; you should have no issue using your real name.

Do not “protect” your tweets and do not ask people to follow you. Do not thank people for “retweeting” what you wrote and do not thank people for following you. Talk to people like you would in real life (if you do that kind of thing). If you write a blog, post a link to a recent post. Follow people you have things in common with both in and out of your professional life. What you do as a lawyer is not that interesting. Trust me.

I am not in agreement with Tannebaum’s points across the board, such as LinkedIn being a waste of time or that Facebook is a place for meeting those people you want to take a pass on. You can be social and network for referrals there as well – so long as you know what you’re doing.

But I am in agreement with Tannebaum that you want to take your offline persona online and be social, not to develop a new persona or brand, in your use of social media.

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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