Legal Web: Not Just Who You Know, Also What You Know

In a recent  KM Space blog post (titled JD Supra Revisited) Doug Cornelius describes how participating on JD Supra created value for him.

Cornelius joined JD Supra in February when we launched the site. He was admittedly a touch skeptical of the unproven service; nevertheless, he participated – he published a handful of documents and created a profile.

Recently, a magazine editor "planning a law office technology and practice management theme" and needing an article on "social networking as an attorney tool" found and downloaded one of Cornelius’ JD Supra documents: LinkedIn to My Facebook on My Blog – Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firm Staff.

In an e-mail, the editor told Doug that his piece was exactly the kind of article the magazine was looking for – and asked him for a re-write, or an update from scratch.

The lesson should be clear: content marketing is effective.

Publish your work online to reach a wider audience, expand your network, generate new leads, establish authority, market your experience and expertise, connect to clients… or, in this particular example, gain the attention of magazine editors looking for informative stories for their readers.

We’re obviously pleased to see the KM Space post, but we also mention it to make another, related point.

Here’s how the magazine editor described his readers to Cornelius:

… they’re generally a little slow to move to "new" technology and need to have its pros and cons clearly described. I’m envisioning an article that will describe using social networking sites and other tools to improve both trial lawyer image and a specific lawyer’s practice.

A tall order (for marketers, journalists, bloggers, friends): explain in simple terms the current online landscape to legal professionals, many of whom aren’t even sure whether they should be online, let alone how to begin.

Start here:

  • When it comes to participating online, it’s not just a question of who know, it’s also about what you know.

Doug Cornelius’ online presence includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, JD Supra, the KM Space blog – among others. In this particular case, a magazine editor found him not through his social networks (who he knows), but through a piece he published on JD Supra (what he knows). It was that simple.

As you expand your presence online, each connection you make, each online "success" is going to be different. The trick: cast a wide net and – mixing metaphors – connect the dots:

  • Are your friends on Twitter able to jump to your blog?
  • Are your colleagues on LinkedIn able to jump to work you’ve publish on JD Supra?
  • Do your blog readers see the work that influences you (your Delicious bookmarks)?
  • Can readers who find your work on JD Supra jump to your website, or email you?

When the social networking and the publishing blend together (when the who and the what connect to paint a broad and colorful picture of your experience and authority), that’s the beginning of an effective online presence.

Stay tuned for more examples of how to do exactly this, in the weeks and months to come…

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Further reading:

Doug Cornelius: LinkedIn to My Facebook on My Blog ;

Nicole Black: Social Media Latest Networking Tool for Lawyers;

Jaffe Associates: White Paper: Web 2.0 and PR 2.0.