By Julie Barry
By now, even the most stridently resistant among us in the legal profession is likely to be using at least one social media platform, if only one for socializing with friends, such as Facebook. In fact, as shown here, approximately 91% of attorneys who participated in this Attorney At Work poll used social media, with Linked In considered the most effective for bringing in new business. A 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey found that 98% of attorneys identified themselves as Linked In users.
These numbers are too big to ignore. If you don’t routinely use social media as part of your marketing, you may be missing out on potential opportunities. At our panel discussion at REBA’s Spring 2016 Conference, my co panelists, Kim Bielan and Justin Tucker, and I shared some tips on how to increase your social media use and presence. Here are just a few of those tips that you can incorporate into your daily schedule:
· Update Your Contacts and Use Those Business Cards. Take the pocketful of business cards from your last networking event, enter them into your Contacts, and mine them for social media information. Then follow, subscribe, and link in or connect to those accounts. This provides a great opportunity to connect or reconnect with clients, referral sources, and others. And it may bring you great insights into what your contacts are doing, which can make any outreach more personal and timely.
· Don’t Ignore Those Birthday or New Job Prompts. Use social-media generated opportunities to connect. But don’t just “like” that your contact has a new job or is celebrating an anniversary at a long-time position. Send a personal message along with those well wishes, and an invitation to have coffee or meet up at a REBA networking event. You might be surprised how often you’ll get a positive response to those messages.
· Use Social Media to Publicize Events You’re Attending. You can tweet or post about a panel discussion you’ll be participating in, or an event you’re attending before, during and after, and include addresses of the organizer and the venue for additional likes and retweets. It’s all about starting a conversation, and encouraging as many others as possible to join you.
· Add your photo. Put a face to your name. Think about it: all things being equal, are you more drawn to the faceless egg or a photo? Adding a recent photo brings an approachable point of contact whether you’re looking to find a new position or are recreating a brand as a thought leader. And consider updating your photo on a regular basis. If you have the good fortune of getting a meeting out of a social media contact, you want them to recognize you.
· Join Social Media Discussion Groups (and Start With REBA’s Linked In Page). This is another way to increase your potential outreach. There are alumni groups, and charitable groups, and industry groups, and sports fans groups. All of these provide an opportunity to develop deeper connections with group members. Staying on top of trends in the group will help you stay current and relevant while providing new sources of information to share with your contacts. Be sure to join discussion groups that will contribute substance with various perspectives on new information and inquiries within your field. You’d be surprised the types of information and other thought leaders you can meet within these groups.
· Embrace your summary. Your summary is where you get to shine! Create a condensed summary that is conversational in tone that differs from your firm’s bio. You are giving a short pitch to someone. Tell them how you differentiate from others in the field. Make yourself known as a thought leader.
· Republish! If you’ve written an article for another publication, blog or website, use this content to post on social media. REBA’s Linked In page is a great place for this. Make sure to include a source to the original publication. You will begin to develop of list of written works on your profile to demonstrate your involvement in your practice or industry.
· Make Social Media a Daily Habit. Pick a time that works best, morning, lunch time, or after work, and take 15 minutes to “like” a post, or share an article you’ve read, or post a blog, or look for new contacts.
These are just a few tips to get you started, and make social media a daily habit that will help you quickly build a following, and make new contacts that may some day lead to business.
Julie Barry is a partner at Prince Lobel Tye LLP where she specializes in real estate, land use and environmental law. She is co-chair of the REBA Environmental Law and Strategic Communications committees. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org