When it comes to social networking and social media, there is a smorgasbord of tools you can choose from. I’ve been playing around with a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and, for what my needs are, I have found a formula that works for me. It’s a combination of LinkedIn, my blog, Facebook and Twitter.
First of all, I utilize social networking tools with a plan and a purpose. My goals are to 1) inspire conversation; 2) build my personal brand; and, 3) promote my brand within the marketplace. At this point in my career, I’m not selling anything, but if I was, I’d utilize social networking tools for that as well.
I have listed the tools in order of my adoption into my social networking plan.
LinkedIn, my first social networking application. Susan Ward sent me my first invite in 2007. It seems so long ago now. As a legal marketer, it is where I first started to build my personal brand outside of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), where I am an active member and volunteer.
In addition to expanding my presence beyond legal marketers who belonged to LMA, LinkedIn introduced me to attorneys, consultants and other professionals within my industry, and across the globe. I got my first taste of what a little social networking could do for your career.
One of the greatest tools on LinkedIn is the ability to build your profile. As I did not have a bio posted anywhere else on the Web, this was incredibly helpful for providing me a presence on the Internet.
I began by connecting with former work colleagues, as well as current members of my legal marketing community. By searching their connections, I was able to identify and connect with more people. As LinkedIn added Groups, I was able to start expanding my reach based on similar interests. The Q&A section allowed me, before I started my blog, to shape and lead discussions, all they while showcasing my “expertise.”
The Legal Watercooler
The quickest way to become an “expert,” I discovered long ago, is to write.
The Legal Watercooler is where I get to have an opinion and share it with all of you. I have said over and over, I started The Legal Watercooler because I wanted to have a conversation. But I never expected to find a community like the one I now have.
In the beginning, I was worried that the conversations I had hoped to inspire were not materializing in the comments section of the blog. I then added Sitemeter and StatCounter and began tracking the visitors to my site. I set up Google search terms to track link-backs. Much to my surprise, I was slowly building a readership. I was able to identify which search terms were driving traffic to my site.
Not so slowly my reputation began to precede me.
The Legal Watercooler is the place where I get to control and build being “known, liked and trusted.” This is where I build and manage my brand.
Sometime last year one of my professional contacts invited me to Facebook. And then another. So I signed up. Facebook started as a “next step” in my business relationships. We were more than just colleagues; we were now on FB together.
Facebook allows me to show more of my personality. I am more casual and personal on this platform than anywhere else.
Facebook has now evolved into a hybrid tool for me. Right now, it is split 50% business, 30% current friends, 20% high school friends. It’s been interesting bringing these three worlds together.
For me, FB is not the place for all of my contacts; for others it is. That’s an individual decision. To sum it all up, I have picture of my kids in there, so we have to be ready to go to the next step before I let you in there.
Oh, and be nice if I “friend” you, my mom joined FB last week.
Imagine walking into a party of 1 million people and screaming, “Hey, everyone who wants to talk about XYZ, come meet me over here.” And 951 people (my current number of followers) show up.
That’s what Twitter can do.
And, Twitter is also a micro-blogging site. And it’s a social networking tool. It is a news feed. And it’s a technical help center. Twitter is a place where you can easily find people who are interested in what you have to say, and Twitter is a place where can listen in on the conversations of others.
Twitter is an all-access pass to the party.
For those who question the effectiveness of Twitter, since it really took off for me in the past few months I have:
- developed new relationships that have led to immediate assistance on current projects
- I have been invited to participate on a webinar, Online Social Networking Gets Professional, through the American Bar Association.
- I flamed a #hashtag discussion, which lead to my being interviewed and quoted in a law.com article.
- I have been offered employment opportunities
- I’m a Top 75 Tweeter on LexTweet
Everyday I’m watching my network grow. Everyday I see how my reputation builds in my community. I am amazed at how far my reach and my presence have expanded.
Not bad for a free little application with a silly little name.