Twitter is a free and easy-to-use "micro-blogging" site that allows you to send and receive short updates from multiple users. David Barrett, The LinkedIn Lawyer is "Twittering" -- follow me here -- and keep up to date with news about Web 2.0 social media and lawyers, with a particular focus on LinkedIn.
Click the links below to browse some of The LinkedIn Lawyer's most popular "tweets" over the last few months.
If you stop to think about the “history” of law firm business development for a minute, it could be basically broken down into two categories – adverts for those potential clients who don’t know any lawyers, and reputation or relationship-building for potential legal client referrals from other attorneys.
Online listings found through the search engine Google (either through paid listings or well planned website SEO) may help develop new leads in both of these categories, however lawyers seeking to refer a client to another lawyer with a particular area of expertise will likely not do merely a Google search. Most attorneys will refer to other attorneys in their firms, attorneys found through Martindale-Hubbell with a solid peer review rating, or well-recommended attorneys in their professional networks.
Others have asked about the limits of the technical search specifications of Google but at issue here is whether the relationship-based nature of LinkedIn makes it a more effective legal client referral tool than a search of law firms purchasing the top listings on commercial search engines.
Most lawyers would likely agree that potential clients who are referred from another attorney are better leads than those who are merely calling a list of names (obtained from either the telephone book or from a computer search).
Further, the relationship-based nature of LinkedIn is the type of assistance potential clients likely desire when they approach an attorney they trust, even if that attorney practices in a specialty that is outside of the scope of the legal matter.
The relationship-based nature of LinkedIn may also be a significant asset for those with a considerable number of non-lawyer connections as well. If one is to search “Boston lawyer” on LinkedIn the search results are typically ordered by proximity of relationship – i.e. direct connections first, followed by second degree connections (connections of your connections), third degree connections, and those who belong to a shared LinkedIn group.
The more connections an attorney has, the more often that attorney would come up in such a search done by any of the connections seeking a lawyer, and adds support to the argument that more LinkedIn connections is a better situation than fewer LinkedIn connections.
As my current extended LinkedIn network approaches 14 million professionals, I hope that the concept that LinkedIn is better than Google catches on quickly not only for self-interested reasons, but because it makes sense.
I'm not the first person to hatch this idea, and the folks at ReadWriteWeb duly note the limits of this approach (best for early adopters, those with few connections have few search results). However as LinkedIn use grows among lawyers, those attorneys with responsibilities in business development would be remiss to ignore this likely trend.
When LinkedIn guru Marc Freedman and I took a look at the number of lawyers in our networks, we found that many lawyers did not identify themselves under "law practice" or "legal services." Often a lawyer who was in-house counsel for a food manufacturer up would list themselves as a part of the "food services industry" and as such the true number of lawyers is difficult to calculate.
In the article "boosting connections" is considered a good thing (funny how this took a while to catch on), and group membership is suggested as a strategy to increase connections. The MyLinkLaw family of lawyer groups is not mentioned explicitly, but the MyLinkLaw groups have to be where more lawyers go to network with other lawyers, as just one of those approximately 96 lawyer networking groups can go toe to toe with "Happy Lawyers" or even "ABA Friends" in terms of membership.
I'm still not sure why it has taken lawyers so long to embrace the open networking philosophies of many of the top-linked members of other professions, but we seem to be catching on.
Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog blogs that "LinkedIn for Lawyer Marketing Works Big Time" which from much anecdotal evidence is true. However, lawyers should not forget that LinkedIn works best for those with a solid marketing concept and plan happening already, and that putting up a free profile with thirty to sixty friends and family alone likely won't change your practice too much.
"Facebook for Lawyers" is a 65 minute recording (audio and computer screen capture) of an online seminar conducted by David Barrett on how Facebook can be used as a business development tool for lawyers.