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Social Networking — Old Concept, New Tools

October 8, 2009

There was quite a dust-up yesterday over on Real Lawyers Have Blogs about whether law firms should be pushing out content as part of their social networking strategy.  Kevin O’Keefe came out swinging with an assertion that law firms focused on pushing out content are missing the finer point of building relationships, which he considers the real purpose behind social networking.

If you read the comments to Kevin’s post, you’ll find people going on passionately for paragraphs and paragraphs about whether Kevin is right or wrong.  While I personally believe that people are not going to be interested in having relationships with you in a professional context unless they’ve seen some of your content and are comfortable that you know your stuff, the more interesting observation to me as I watched the dialogue unfold on Kevin’s site and others, is that people think this is a new debate.

Bullhorns & LaptopKnowingly or not, Kevin hit the nail on the head when he used the cocktail party and bullhorn example.  Cocktail parties are old school business development, yet social networking really is nothing more than a virtual cocktail party (h/t to Heather Morse Milligan for bringing this concept home to me).  How business professionals, specifically lawyers, grow and market their businesses is nothing new.  The only new concepts in this equation are the shiny and new tools of social media and social networking.  Kevin is right when he says that you don’t want to be a bullhorn at the new virtual cocktail party.  Ho hum.

Stop making this so difficult, people.  Follow the old tried and true networking rules of (1) don’t be obnoxious; (2) try to genuinely connect; and (3) pay it forward, and you’ll do fine in the brave new world of social networking.

And note to Kevin, part of genuinely connecting in the business world is demonstrating that you know your stuff and that happens with content.  In this fast paced, overscheduled world, you better be handing me your content and not expecting me to go look for it.  The typical player on the social media scene is busy and won’t be spending a lot of time looking for your bona fides.

Now get out there and get social.  And don’t be afraid to share a little content about yourself and your expertise.

photo credit istockphoto

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2009 6:22 pm

    Tracy: Nice post. I’d say that I agree with you entirely (esp. the “pay it forward” concept), but you probably already knew that from my comment on Kevin’s post and the points laid out in our presentation. I think this is a great debate because it gets lawyers and legal professionals thinking around the edges of the box about how they can make social media and social networking valuable, not just for themselves, but for everyone. You’re absolutely right that only the tools have changed, and that if lawyers apply the tried and true networking rules to their online activity, they’ll never be that guy with the bullhorn.

    • Tracy Thrower Conyers permalink*
      October 8, 2009 8:38 pm

      Thanks for the kudos, Lance, and thanks for swinging by my new blog. I’ll hop up on the social media soapbox with you, anytime.


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