I was in Philadelphia on Thursday (for a lovely event at the new Barnes location hosted by my firm’s Women’s Development Initiative, among other things) and happened to run into Sheri, the firm’s director of career development.
Of all things, we started talking about my blogging.
I was flattered to hear my blogging had been used as an example — thankfully a “how-to,” not a “how-not-to” example — during a presentation at the Professional Development Consortium’s Summer Conference that addressed how to develop a professional presence in the physical and virtual worlds.
We discussed the fact there are concerns social media is encouraging people, including young lawyers, to spend more time online and less time interacting face-to-face when it should be more properly used as a tool for “extension and enrichment of what happens when people are physically present.”
My personal theory on social media has always been that it is a powerful way to help others “get to know you” before you ever meet them.
My use of social media has opened up a lot of doors for me over the course of only a few short years. I was introduced to the MSBA’s Young Lawyers’ Section Council through Facebook. I have been asked to speak at bar and community conferences because of my use of social media. I have maintained and developed relationships with people I met at conferences through Twitter and have obtained writing opportunities because I stay up to date on social media developments. I have had people that I have never met before come up to me at conferences and networking events to introduce themselves and to talk about something I blogged about or a recent article I wrote.
Sheri and I agreed: lawyers should be using social media. The extent to which each lawyer should use social media will vary, of course. Some people will want to get extensively involved, while others may only want to do the basics.
But, at a minimum, lawyers should recognize that, these days, we routinely Google people. It can be a bit disconcerting when a Google search returns nothing. Or, when only negative or misleading results come up.
And what about our ethical obligations as lawyers? If it would be appropriate to share something — be it a professional experience, an update on a topic of law, or a personal vignette — at a bar conference, a firm event or a community gathering, it is probably also fair game to share via social media.
Just remember: We are professionals whether we are online or offline, and should behave accordingly.
(Image from Monitor Online Reputation)