Attention young lawyers: social media, if used effectively, can generate business contacts.
Social media can be a wonderful mechanism for creating your brand, for demonstrating your passion and expertise, for creating, maintaining and expanding relationships and for intruding your subject matter knowledge to others. You can also ruin your brand, damage your relationships and adversely impact your career. I consider the business use of social media akin to karaoke. You may think you can sing, but the audience may look at it entirely differently.
So, you are saying to yourself, “Anybody who can remember where he was when he learned that JFK was assassinated shot can’t possibly understand social media. Let’s leave social media to the millennials and the Generation X’ers.” Well, I get that, but since the PC was introduced in the ‘80s, I have been involved in social media and watched it grow. I ran the first electronic “Legal Forum” that even existed, back in the day. It was on CompuServe, a commercial on-line network that dominated the field in the 1980s and into the 1990s. The legal blog was called LAWSIG (Law Special Interest Group) and I was the SYSOP (System Operator) that oversaw and moderated the on-line discussion groups. This was pre-Internet. Two other systems, AOL Online and Prodigy were out there as well, but CompuServe was the dominating platform. We had our first e-mail addresses (76705,[email protected] was mine, as I recall) but one could only send emails to other. Chuck Beans wrote about the evolution of Compuserve to the Internet in an ABA piece some years back.
The Legal Forum attracted lawyers of all kinds, and all fields, and the unwritten ground rules we established in this professional legal network are just as important today as they were in the early '80s.
Don’t waste your time in marketing in places where clients aren’t pay attention.
We had different discussion sections for different interest groups. Today there are different social media platforms. I see Facebook as a non-business medium for lawyers (other than a firm presence through a firm page), especially lawyers who work with insurance companies and corporate clients. Have fun on Facebook, debate (if you must) the political and social issues of the day, look at cat videos, see the cute grandchildren, but don’t invest a lot of time in expecting to connect with insurance or corporate clients. Except, as friends. Nothing wrong with interacting with friends, or estranged siblings, distant cousins and claims professionals. Just remember, you might impress them with your wit or offend them with your politics or with comments that might be considered racist, sexist, misogynist, insensitive or rude.
Use LinkedIn – or Other Similar Sites – Effectively.
How do you do that? There are ways that can cost you money and ways that only cost your personal time. I’m giving you the freebees. Sponsorship, promoting, etc. may also be effective, but require out-of-pocket investment.
- Review and update your profile. Concentrate on real achievements and show folks who read it what makes you different than others.
- Figure out who you want to attract and try to understand what those folks might be interested in hearing or reading. Include timely and relevant content and then update it when it is no longer timely or relevant.
- Acknowledge LinkedIn invitations — don’t just accept them. You may be surprised that there are folks out there that really want to meet you. If someone takes the time to invite you to connect, take a moment to thank them, perhaps engage with them. Look at their profile and perhaps you have mutual contacts. This may well be your next new client.
- Link your profile to your signature block on your office email so those who get mail from you can learn a little more about you.
- Look to see who has reviewed your profile and consider making contact with them.
- Use Twitter to tweet out to your followers important changes to your LinkedIn postings.
- Make sure your firm has an effective and up-to-date company page which links to you and that you connect by link. You want seamless transitions between the two.
- Do not let your personal page or firm page die of boredom. Keep the sites up to date. Add publications, update personnel changes, speaking engagements, anything that reflects on your expertise or that of the firm.
- Create active, engaging and interesting discussions. Over the past nine days, I’ve posted nine LinkedIn posts that linked to blogs on our firm’s website. I am generally NOT a serial-poster. I post when I am passionate about something and I am that way about business development and the growth and development of younger lawyers. I had no idea whether there’d be any interest in the subject. These posts have generated over 24,000 page views and I’ve picked up well over 150 new connections, people who (I suppose) are interested in the perspectives under discussion. What I learned from that (and what you may learn) is that people read and listen if what you have to say makes some sense.
- Create harmony between your LinkedIn postings and your firm website so that your worthy postings can find a long-term home in a place where folks may find you and want to learn about you.
- Use images. Most of my postings here have had an image, a photo, something visual. Images have impact.
- Remember that being out of sight will put you out of mind.
Just an afterthought, CompuServe was followed by the Internet and the early Internet morphed into the World Wide Web. And the WWW led to the development of websites.
Websites were the source of information about people, places and things and in the early days of the Internet, it was where you landed to search for potential business partners. Now, legal websites are legacy repositories for information about lawyers who you have found somewhere else.
Case study: In one case, an attorney with workers comp experience joined an insurer and was starting to do casualty work. She had heard of me through a presentation, looked up my profile and invited me to connect. We exchanged messages including some advice on some coverage “situations” she was working through. I suggested she attend the DRI Insurance conference in NYC, at my sponsorship. As a first time attendee, she did not have to pay a registration fee. We met there and a year or so later, she switched companies and became the claims attorneys for another carrier. She invited me to do some training down at her new shop and that company is now an active and delightful client and my contact has become a good friend.
Be there to be found.