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Getting started with social media without getting consumed by it

If you haven't started using social media and you are wondering whether you should be, the simple answer is an unequivocal YES! If you are not using it at all or only minimally, you're missing valuable opportunities to stay connected with your network and to learn more about prospective clients and referral sources. You are missing opportunities to get introductions to the influencers you want to meet (i.e. the connections of your connections).  

Social media is not a substitute for in-person marketing. It is not where you should be spending the majority of your marketing time. But it is an important complement to all the other things you do to build your reputation and build your relationships.

If you are holding back because you don't know where to start, here are six steps you can take:

1. Join LinkedIn. While there are many other popular social networks including Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is a great place to start and LinkedIn is the one network where you want to make sure you are present. The free version is perfectly adequate for most users.

2. Create a detailed profile which includes a nice photo and all of your contact information. Once you join, LinkedIn will prompt you for educational and other biographical information (essentially helping you create a very detailed resume).  Make sure you create a profile which includes:

  • A descriptive headline (e.g. rather than "Partner at Smith and Jones," "Personal Injury Law Attorney, Partner at Smith and Jones").
  • A one to two paragraph summary of who you serve, what you do, what you have done and what differentiates you from other lawyers. Try to write it in a way that will make you memorable. Focus on no more than three types of problems you solve. If you try to list the 20 things you actually do, it will be harder for the reader to tell you apart from other lawyers.
  • An entry for everywhere you have worked and more importantly, examples of the types of problems you have solved in each of these positions (i.e. representative matters which highlight your accomplishments).

3. Other activities and professional accomplishments, particularly those that reinforce your competence to handle the types of legal services you are trying to sell and your experience in helping the kinds of clients you want to serve.

4. Start sending out invitations to connect once you are satisfied with your profile and start accepting the invitations to connect that have been accumulating in your in-box. Try to connect with at least 50 individuals you know (law school and college classmates, former co-workers, past and present clients and referral sources). Review their LinkedIn profiles to get more ideas about what you might want to include in your own profile. In addition, take note if you learn something that would be useful to know about that person (e.g. they like golf, they are interested in classical music, they attended the same college, they share your political beliefs, they are active in their church or synagogue, they started out as a litigator, they had a first career in social work). For three weeks, make a point of going to your LinkedIn page daily and skimming through the "updates" that your contacts have posted. Don't pay too much attention to who they have connected with (i.e. pay more attention to the substantive updates they have posted). This means you'll have to skim past a lot of updates. You will also receive a weekly newsletter (unless you change the setting) which gives you a summary of all the updates your contacts have posted since the last newsletter.

5. After three weeks, start posting your own updates once a week. Try to include links. Possible updates include: linking to an interesting article; linking to some content you have on your website or to an article you have published somewhere; mentioning one of your successes or one of your partner's successes; posing a question you think your network might be able to answer; flagging a recent court decision or a new statute and summarizing in a sentence or two why it might be important; congratulating someone; letting your network know about an event they may want to attend.

6. Continue to connect with additional professionals who are already in your network (and professionals you meet at networking functions). After two months, identify some companies or institutions that you would like to represent or some types of professionals who you think might be good potential referral sources. Conduct a search in LinkedIn to see if any of your contacts know someone at that company and might be willing to make an introduction on your behalf.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published September 13, 2012

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