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Six reasons attorneys ought to bother with Google+

January 12, 2012

Google Plus AttorneysFormer securities lawyer, now publisher, Bruce Carton, asked yesterday on ALM’s Legal Blog Watch, ‘…to Those of You Still Using Google+: Why?’

…I pretty much gave up on using Google+ a short time after I wrote that post [on initial foray into Google+] in June 2011 (my last Google+ post is dated Aug. 17, 2011), and as far as I can tell, most of the few people in the legal world with whom I ever communicated on Google+ also moved on. I am not opposed to Google+, I just never grasped how it could be useful or even interesting to me beyond what I was already doing with Twitter and Facebook.

My question for any and all of you in the legal community who are still using Google+ is: why? What are you getting from Google+ that keeps you coming back? Is it redundant if you are using other social media such as Twitter, for example, or does it have value of its own?

My first thought was this sounds an awful lot like Larry Bodine, now Editor of LexisNexis, telling legal professionals a couple years ago that Twitter was a waste of time. In addition to a myriad of other reasons that Bodine told law firms not to waste their time on Twitter was that clients and prospective clients were not spending their time on Twitter.

I shared on Twitter that Carton’s post sounded a lot like the popular question to lawyers of 2 years ago, “Why are you using Twitter?”

To which Vancouver lawyer, Caroline Clapham (@CarolineClapham) replied on Twitter:

…most of our clients/prospective clients aren’t using G+ so I haven’t put too much effort in the space.

Though Carton was asking, as opposed to preaching, I thought with that headline he’d draw the obvious responses of “I’m too busy to learn how to use another social media,” “I don’t see many of our clients there,” or “I tried Google+ and didn’t get any new legal work.”

To my pleasant surprise, Carton drew a more reasoned response from a number of lawyers in the comments to his post.

From an anonymous lawyer:

I find Google+ to be useful for more engaging conversations. You can post random comments just as easily as twitter and broadcast them to anyone that’s on Google +. Once responses start, you can easily follow and keep track of the conversation. Plus you can pick and choose easily who you’d like to share your comments with as opposed to fb’s clunky interface that forces you to either censor your comments or end up offending someone. Its great for more selective sharing.

From DC Attorney Mark Rosenberg:

I am on Google Plus also, and I think lawyers will find it useful. The advantage over Facebook is that you can have several “circles” of contacts and can post only to one or more circles. This allows you to have, for example, a circle of “clients”, a circle of “law colleagues” and a circle of “friends”, which can facilitate posting of just business comments to one circle rather than everyone.

It is very easy to use and I think will be an important competitor to Facebook.

From Donald Griesmann, a retired attorney:

…I use Google+ as a new way of conversation in my role as a virtual volunteer about nonprofits and grant opportunities. It currently has its limits because a lot of people I know have not moved from e-mail and some Facebook. However I think it has a possible place for real dialogue with common thinkers and actors…and family. We’ll see.

Perhaps lawyers have learned from the last few years that what’s uncomfortable at first can quickly become a way of life. Think Facebook. Or what looks like a messaging system to share that your cat rolled over could become the oxygen that moves news and information across the world in a matter of a couple years. Think Twitter.

Don’t look at Google+ as medium for instant business development gratification. Think of using Google+ for six reasons.

  1. It simply doesn’t matter if your clients and prospective clients are using Google+, for Google+ to be a powerful business development tool over time. You can engage the influencers of your clients such as bloggers, reporters, publishers, and business association leaders. Have you ever sent press releases to clients? No, you sent them to their influencers.
  2. It takes an inquisitive mind and a willingness to experiment to develop an innovative bent. God nows consumers and business people are looking for innovative lawyers.
  3. Look at social media, such as Google+, as a place to network and build relationships. Though you can talk shop, you need not always do so to build relationships. After all, relationships and word of mouth are at the heart of business development for good lawyers.
  4. It can be good to be where your competitors are not. Do you want to be at the Rotary meeting where every other lawyer in town is also networking?
  5. You can learn early and ahead of your competitors. Though I don’t spend all that much time on Google+, I am not going to blow it off like I did Facebook for years. I’m now playing catchup in building my network and in understanding how to use Facebook for networking .
  6. Google+ isn’t going anywhere. Unlike past overtures by Google into social, Google has spent a ton of time and money on Google+ and is integrating Google+ into social search.

It’s good to see the legal profession with an open eye to the future of social media. With networking being the lifeblood of new business for attorneys, maybe social media will be one area where the legal profession leads other industries.

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