I just finished putting together my materials for the MSBA Annual Meeting. I will be speaking Thursday morning during the conference about how lawyers can use social media effectively and without getting themselves into trouble. My presentation will be part of a broader session that will also include technology tips and online resource pointers. It will be in the morning, but yes, I have been promised that there will be coffee. (Pastries too, I hear.)
My presentation will focus on how social media can be used effectively by lawyers. From blogging to LinkedIn to Facebook and Twitter, social media can help you find new audiences for your work and can put you in control of your professional reputation. There are a few lawyers who have perfected the art of using these social media platforms for professional purposes. Check out the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and The Employer Handbook.
My materials include, among other things, a list of tips on how lawyers can use social media effectively. I think one of the most important is, “don’t be afraid to show your personality.” Tastefully and professionally, of course, and in moderation.
We spend so many of our waking hours thinking about work and do so much of our communication and networking electronically that it is far too easy for us, the online generation of lawyers, to lose who we are as individuals. We may not think about it, but in divorcing our personal lives from our professional lives so completely, we are losing the things that set us apart and that can help us naturally identify with colleagues, potential clients and referral sources.
If you Google me, the first thing that comes up is my profile on my firm’s webpage. Second is my LinkedIn profile, followed by other social media results such as JD Supra, Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find articles that I’ve written and Bar Association results, but there are also more personal results.
You will see my Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation fundraising page, you will find information about my pro bono client and children’s school, Bryant Woods Montessori Children’s House, and you will find my posts on this blog where I talk about work-related things as well as my kids, my family, my practice assistant, my fantasy football team and my thoughts about fast food play areas.
The first set of online content will give someone an idea of my professional qualifications and may encourage someone to contact me for my professional opinion on one of those topics.
But it is the personal set of content that will give people an idea of who I am as a person, what I am like to work with and whether my interests align with theirs. It may also give a reader more of a sense of my judgment than an alert on a breaking news item would. And, as lawyers, isn’t our judgment a little more important than our ability to summarize the news? Keeping at least some personality in your social media will also help you develop and maintain relationships.
I will leave you with my favorite blog (and some of my favorite recent posts from the blog, here, here, here, and here). This is not a law blog, but a personal blog with an impressive 13,000 unique visitors per month. It is an excellent example of how tastefully personal blogging can be done.