Are lawyers keeping up appearances on-line?

business social media lawyersLawyers routinely say that LinkedIn is for business while Facebook is for social and friends.

Euan Semple (@euan), author and social media consultant to organizations, including the The World Bank, wondered Sunday if folks holding this belief are missing out on the wider changes in attitude to work and business that the social web is enabling.

The web is all about people. It’s about connections, relationships and energy. So is doing business. Energy and connections are what help you do your work. Facebook, for all its faults, is good at increasing both. Linkedin in, in contrast, is full of people in suits being “professional”.

As a lawyer, you should no doubt use LinkedIn. Have a great profile, connect with those you meet on and off-line, share items you read, and possibly start a niche focused group. I have.

Facebook is what connects me to people in a deeper way though. I nurture relationships from which I derive passion and energy. Twitter and Google+ can do much the same. I expect for others that Pinterest and Instagram bring excitement and relationships.

And why not? As Semple blogged a couple days, “Sometimes it’s the trivial and unimportant that makes us feel more alive and more human.”

Relationships are what business development in the law is all about. Heck, relationships are what life is all about.

The trivial and unimportant such as a ball game with my kids, the exchange of Christmas cards, and commenting on a picture shared by a business associate on Facebook are the things that excite us. They’re the things the world is made of. They’re the things which nurture relationships.

Being constrained by what feels business-like, by constrictive social media policies, and by undue fears of ethical issues, lawyers and law firms may never achieve what’s possible with social media.

The full impact of the social web will only be apparent when being “professional” – in the sense of restrained, impersonal, guarded and “businesslike” as distinct from being bloody good at your job – is finally seen as unproductive, dysfunctional, often bullying in intent, and a waste of time and energy.

Semple’s right. Rather than be guided by arbitrary rules of professionalism that tell you one social media is for business and one for pleasure, let the creating of relationships which excite you be your guide.

Image courtesy of Flickr by  Victor1558.

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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