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Five Kindergarten Lessons for Lawyers on Social Media

Tsk, tsk, Arnold. Playing with toys that aren’t your own is a big ‘no, no!’

Life is constantly presenting us with recurring lessons and themes. You have to imagine that most of these lessons were taught to us at a young age, as early as kindergarten even, but somewhere along the lines we either stopped practicing them or just plum forgot. Take for example former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who now finds himself in a media tizzy because he fathered a child out of wedlock. Perhaps he forgot the classic kindergarten staple, ‘don’t take things that aren’t yours.’ Ironic considering that he starred as a cop-cum-kindergarten teacher in ‘Kindergarten Cop’ early on in his Hollywood career. Maybe his acting notes weren’t thorough enough? In any event, below we provide you a refresher’s course on five key kindergarten adages and explain how they are still relevant for lawyers practicing their profession in a web 2.0 world.

Lesson One: Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things

If you are a lawyer who is just now considering jumping aboard the social media ‘bandwagon,’ then it’s about time you make the leap.  Savvy lawyers today are claiming the big kid’s share of clients by means of developing a multi-faceted online presence, and they’re smart for doing so. A recent study by BTI Consulting of 572 corporate counsel shows that 90% now go online to search lawyer directories, up from 56% a mere three years ago. What does this signify? The growing impact of social media, and therefore your online presence, on clients. Says Marcie Shrunk, BTI Principal, “Clients and potential clients want to check out bios and background on a site other than the law firm’s to learn something new or verify what they have seen elsewhere.”

Lesson Two: Sharing is Caring

Remember in kindergarten when your teacher would give you a gold star for sharing your crayon box with the entire table? While the internet may not give out gold stars, it is definitely keeping track of the amount of sharing happening online.  With the recent slew of sharing buttons and widgets that have taken over the internet, it might be a bit confusing as to what you should place on your website. Here are our recommendations: Facebook’s ‘Like’, Twitter’s ‘Tweet/Follow Me’, Google’s ‘+1’ and LinkedIn Share. It’s not enough to simply create rich content that keeps visitors coming back to your site; you need to enable them with the tools to spread the word on your behalf. Are they able to Tweet out your article directly from the page? Is there an option for them to recommend your work to their inner circle via Google’s search engine, a la ‘+1’? And as the kids are fond of saying these days, it’s not real until it’s on Facebook. What good is it for someone to like your work without the ability to actually ‘like’ it?

Lesson Three: Clean Up Your Mess

Enter the new head of class: Google. Lawyers need to give potential clients, and apparently even corporate counsel, reputable links and accounts to click on when your name enters that search box online. You want to leverage an online presence in your favor, as a supplement to your credentials and not a hindrance to your reputation. In addition to your own firm’s website, it’s almost guaranteed that the second and third hit on that first search page is going to be your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook account – that is, if you have one. A client may very well skip over your own stuffy site that reads like a resume for a format they recognize. So be sure to clean up that digital footprint and quit tracking mud into the house; you have visitors.

Lesson Four: Hold Hands and Stick Together – It’s A Big World Out There

While we’re constantly championing social media as a means to an end, namely business, don’t forget that it is also a concept rooted in the idea of community. That is where the ‘social’ comes in. You should take advantage of resources like LinkedIn’s Communities or Meetup Groups. These are great platforms for exchanging ideas and tips with like minded colleagues in your profession.  Also, they offer opportunities for taking the conversation offline and interacting in the real world through networking events and local conferences. There’s a lot to grapple with when it comes to social media, but you definitely don’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re visiting our site for the latest tips and trends or checking your Twitter feed for an answer to a question you posed to an attorney in Texas, the idea here is inclusion.

Lesson Five (This One’s Important): Take A Nap Every Day

Self-explanatory, really. You are a lawyer. You are busy. Take a half hour daily to rejuvenate yourself. Have that second glass of warm milk. Indulge.

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