Social Media Perspective: Be a Lawyer

I think that this endlessly fascinating conversation we’re having about lawyers and social media needs perspective.

And the perspective goes like this: you went to school to be a lawyer, not an online strategist. So: be a lawyer. No one should be telling you otherwise.

Which is not to say that advice like "You are your own brand" or "Self-marketing is the key to your longterm success" or "online participation is an essential part of business development" is necessarily incorrect. (It isn’t.)

Nor is it wrong to listen to the numerous intelligent marketing and biz dev professionals out there who are leading the way with their insights. Listen and read all you can.

But: one defining characteristic of the communication tools defining our contemporary online landscape is that they create a lot of noise. I fear that in the noise we too easily lose perspective.

Some of us network at cocktail parties; yet, as a consequence there has never been a requirement to learn how to tend bar or mix drinks. (That skill comes from too much time in grad school?)

Some of the best business development occurs over lunch; but that’s not why we learn how to cook, or – for that matter – why some of us do time as waiters or restaurant sous chefs.

The fact is, most legal professionals don’t have time for this. At least, the ones I talk to are burning the practice candle on both ends. Barely keeping their heads above water, they don’t have time to turn themselves into social media strategists, or…

Perspective: at a basic level this is all about communication, just as the telephone and email is about communication. You should assimilate these new communication tools into your professional and personal life, as needed, in ways that make sense to you. No more, no less.

Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blogs, websites, RSS, JD Supra, widgets, SEO, social media, social networking – ignore the labels and brand names for now. Start with the point of view of a legal professional with a business to run. Take from the mix what works.

– Does the tool help me to communicate with people I want (or need) to communicate with?

– Does the tool help me to show more people what I’m really good at, what I was trained to do?

– Does it help me to get meaningful attention?

– Does it make my life easier?

These are the types of questions you should ask as you vet the tools available to you.

There are of course many other questions. Hopefully readers will broaden the perspective by including them in the comments field of this post…