By Kevin O'Keefe

Relationships, not social media, drive business

social media lawyers relationshipsToo many lawyers and other professionals look at social media as the end game in an of itself. Publish a blog, use Twitter, network on LinkedIn, and make friends on Facebook. Do those things and you’ll have business overnight.

Forget about it, they’re just tools.

Molly Rauzi (@AskMolly), Managing Director at Grant Thornton LLP, nails it when she writes that social should be used to build relationships. It’s from those relationships that you’ll grow your business.

…[A]s easy as [the tools] make it to connect people with one another, can’t be the foundation of business development. Managing a relationship exclusively through technology doesn’t build rapport — just ask any parent who’s been relegated to text messaging in order to communicate with their children.

……

Technology can’t drive business development, but it does help make such efforts more efficient and successful.

So what do you do?

The successful technique is leveraging social media to transform business connections into personal relationships. Developing authentic, interpersonal relationships improves professional performance and makes business more dynamic, effective and enjoyable.

Rauzi goes on to share some best practices bullets that I’ve expanded on.

  • Be Authentic & Personable. You need to be yourself. As my leadership coach told me, you have to be yourself as everyone else is already taken. Develop a conversational (yet professional) style that’s all your own with blog. Let your personal passions bleed into your social media. Others will have similar interests and you’ll find personal interests make for good discussion online and offline
  • Create Specific Social Media Groups. Create LinkedIn Groups or Facebook pages for areas of the law or industry. Such groups can be regionalized or be focused on a blog, such as the China Law Blog LinkedIn Group. By creating the group, you’ll be recognized for facilitating the discussion and also for news you share to prompt discussion.
  • Filter your posting content by your defined audience groups. Share your own and other’s content in a way that is tailored to each of your targeted groups’ interests. The content will be valuable to those folks and feel less spammy than when you share with everyone. In LinkedIn you can target groups as well as share only with those connections which you have selected. Facebook enables targeting by categories such as gender, age, geographical location and other characteristics.
  • Use social media as the icebreaker to begin a more in-depth, offline conversation. Social media is very effective for introducing yourself and starting an online conversation that progresses to an offline one. Be strategic in identifying those people you want to meet and create situations that enable you to connect offline. Keep track of your online connections in LinkedIn and organize them by locale or topic for future face to face meetings you’ll arrange by invitation.
  • Know when it’s appropriate to stay off social media. As Rauzi says, “When establishing a relationship with C-level executive, a handwritten letter leaves a warmer impression than a connection request on LinkedIn.” I am also apt to pick up the phone and make a call, something we did before computers and email.

Don’t let the ever evolving and fast paced environment of social media and technology take away from what you and your law firm stands for. Show your audience that you have their best interest in mind by sharing valuable information tailored to their needs, all the while being personable and straight forward, and take those online ‘acquaintances’ offline.

Keep this in mind and you’ll build and foster meaningful relationships that will grow your business.

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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