Social Media for Professionals: Taking on Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo!

September 3, 2009

There are many things that make social media great.  You can keep in contact with friends, you can exchange info with classmates and former co-workers from around the world, and you can even be introduced–or introduce yourself–to large audiences or prominent people that were never before accessible to the likes of you and me.  Social media continues to open the lines of communication by making relevant information accessible and available in a timely manner.

As an attorney, one of the sites I frequent is JDSupra.  The site is not your typical social network.  Rather, it is a document repository for individuals and organizations within and without the legal profession:

JD Supra allows lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals to publish and distribute their work online to a wide audience.

Legal professionals publish and share court filings, briefs, alerts, articles, newsletters, and numerous other legal documents on JD Supra.  Our tagline reads: “Give content. Get noticed.”

I frequently contribute articles, briefs, and orders.  More frequently, I use the articles, briefs, and orders posted by others.  It is a great way to promote myself and my practice and, at the same time, it is a great resource for staying abreast of evolving legal issues and cutting edge legal decisions.

Yesterday, I uploaded some of the recent filings and orders in the highly-covered and highly-debated Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., class-action lawsuit.  You might know it as the Google Books or Google Library class action or even as the Google Books Settlement.  For those who haven’t heard, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have allied themselves in opposition to Google’s attempt to get judicial sanction that would allow Google to scan and digitize millions of pages and books that are still copyrighted but whose copyright owners cannot be located.  And Amazon filed its Objection to the Proposed Settlement yesterday (September 2, 2009).  I ran across it online, glanced through it, thought it might be of interest to others, and proceeded to upload it to JDSupra.  At that point, I continued on with the rest of my busy day.

Several hours later, I was at a friend’s house playing soccer with his little girls (it is their first year of soccer–I can almost hold my own) when my Blackberry started to buzz.  Adrian Lurssen, an early Yahoo! employee and current Director of Communications at JDSupra, sent me a tweet and asked if I would be interested in writing a brief guest-blog about Amazon’s Objection and the Google Books case in general.  Standing on my friend’s back patio, I fired up my preferred mobile Twitter app (it is UberTwitter if you are wondering) and quickly replied that I was definitely interested.

Adrian and I DM’ed back and forth and tossed around a few ideas.  My loving wife (who is a “real” IP lawyer–a patent attorney, as opposed to the rest of us “soft” IP lawyers–also known as IP litigators) cut me some slack and I pounded out a piece that is now prominently displayed on JDSupra’s blog and in JDSupra’s hot documents: Amazon.com’s Objection to Proposed Settlement in “Authors Guild v. Google, Inc”.

Thanks to various social media outlets, in under 24-hours, I found a copy of Amazon’s Objection, read it, became interested in it, and then uploaded it to JDSupra (which passed it along to thousands of its followers and subscribers). The filing caught Adrian’s eye and he quickly connected with me through Twitter (and, at least, my cell phone).  We chatted back and forth. And now I have a featured piece posted on the front page of a website frequented by legal professionals.

I was given the opportunity to share some knowledge and “expertise” with an extremely large audience that would be unavailable to me but for Adrian’s and JDSupra’s help.  JDSupra has a timely and relevant piece that is likely of interest to much of its audience. The symbiotic nature of this connection is obvious.  It is a perfect illustration of what social media allows and how it can work.

Let me conclude by waxing philosophical.  Maybe the question needs to change from: “What has social media done for me today?” to: “What have I done for social media today.”  If you make valuable contributions to the medium, the medium will reward you in spades.  It may not happen immediately (Adrian and I have followed each other on Twitter for at least half a year) but opportunities will come and you can seize them, if you so choose.

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Traditional Networking – Does It Still Work

July 9, 2009

As the debate over Twitter / Social Media marketing tool heats up, we should all remember that other, successful, networking and marketing strategies exist.  Nearly everyone familiar with the subject will suggest that new media combined with traditional practice marketing will lead to the best results.  Despite my strong belief in the power of Twitter and Social Media, even I acknowledge, that a successful practice cannot rely exclusively on social media marketing.

The Rainmaker Blog recently posted an article entitled: “Law Firm Marketing: 7 Tips on Finding Clients Through Formal Networking” and it is worth a read.  I’ll give you the seven tips but if you want the explanation of how to use them, why to use them, and why they are successful, you will have to go check out the Rainmaker Blog to learn the intricacies:

  1. Join the right groups
  2. Join elite groups
  3. Use an “audio logo”
  4. Remember your primary purpose
  5. Ask open-ended questions
  6. Be intentional in your follow-up
  7. Track your efforts

[Explanations Here]. I only partially agree with their suggestions.  I think #1 and #2 are definitely important.  I question #3 and its effectiveness (depending on the practice you are trying to build).  I don’t find #4-#6 as particularly helpful; they are too general.  And I agree with #7.  But each one of these points is greatly enhanced when social media is added to the mix.  Your efforts will be easier and more effective.

Ultimately, running a successful law practice is like running a business.  You can market all day and all night but if you have a product that no one in the market wants or that is beat out by the competition, you’re marketing efforts will all be for naught.  The best law firm marketing comes from practicing good law that helps clients achieve their goals and satisfies their needs.