We are fortunate to welcome back Stephen E. Seckler, principal of Seckler Legal Consulting, for the second edition of his “The Solo and Small Firm Advantage” guest blog post series. Stephen is an attorney coach with twenty years of experience in consulting with lawyers. (Stephen’s full profile is available at his website.) Stephen’s own Counsel to Counsel blog has twice been named to the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 List. In this edition of “The Solo and Small Firm Advantage”, Stephen relays eight rules for web 2.0 success.
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Rule #1: Have Consistent Profiles
Your profiles on your law firm web site, your blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other social media should consistently reflect the niche you are trying to market. You should also take the time to update your profiles frequently, particularly as you develop new expertise.
Rule #2: Experiment and Observe First
These media have their own cultural norms. Start by looking at what others are doing. Read other blogs. Look at other people’s profiles. Post comments on other people’s blogs. See how other people answer questions in LinkedIn Groups. Read people’s tweets. When you do start to participate, look for ways to be helpful.
Rule #3: Quality is Important, But So Is Frequency
If you decide to write a blog, don’t feel like you are writing a law review article with every post. This can be hard for lawyers. The point is to be present over and over again, not to be ultra profound every time you write something. Don’t let great be the enemy of good. And don’t do a blog unless you plan to post regularly (at least 2x’s per week)–though you can share the authoring responsibilities with someone else to make that easier. When you post updates on LinkedIn, do a mix of professional and personal and make sure to promote others by recommending articles, congratulating individuals, etc.
Rule #4: Use Common Sense
Don’t divulge client confidences, don’t create an attorney/client relationship inadvertently, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to say in an open bar association meeting.
Rule #5: Focus on Relationship Quality
You are much better off having good relationships with 50 solid referral sources than superficial relationships with thousands of fellow tweeters. While social media lends itself to connecting with more people than you might connect with in “real life”, the focus should not be on winning the “connections arms race”.
Rule #6: Turn Virtual Relationships into Real Ones
Virtual communication is a way to extend the conversation with existing contacts and to initiate relationships with new contacts. But, those new contacts are unlikely to become real relationships unless you make the effort to connect in real life (by phone or in person.)
Rule#7: Don’t Sell
Social media is not a place to sell yourself or your services (at least not directly). You wouldn’t go up to a stranger at a cocktail party and immediately ask them to hire you to prepare their will. This is true in spades on social media. Look for ways to be helpful, try to link to other people’s content and find ways to get a dialogue going. Don’t advertise your $50 book or $100 webinar. That approach will backfire.
Rule #8: Recycle
In some ways, you can think of social media as a whole new series of broadcast channels. Since you never know who is tuning in to which channel, make sure to broadcast your message on multiple channels. Publish an article in a trade publication. Circulate a link to the reprint by e-mail to your contacts. Put a post about the article on your blog–with a link. Post an update about the article on LinkedIn with a link to the article (do the same on Twitter).