“Oh come on Betsy, isn’t Twitter just a waste of time? What would I do with a Twitter?”
So, first, I offer a flat and heartfelt “NO”. And, second: No one HAS a Twitter, please. Twitter is a platform. You can have a Twitter handle, account or presence, but you canNOT “have a Twitter”. Read on please…
I went pretty much native, digitally at least, in 2010. In 2009, after 25 extraordinarily satisfying years as a law firm partner, I decamped to start my business providing career development coaching. I used a new Mac and assorted Geniuses to build a website, I refined my EAPD business development training curriculum through a collaborative Ning [RIP] worksite. In 2010, I renovated my presence on LinkedIn, adopted a dignified Twitter handle, started this blog, built out my online professional network and converted it to personal connections with a wonderfully diverse group of new colleagues and clients and grasped the enormous utility of social media and other Internet tools for the lawyers– young and old—and law students I was coaching.
I was surprised then, and am still baffled, by the number of smart, savvy, competent and competitive friends, colleagues and former partners who have ignored the prodigious power of social media, especially high-end opinion blogs and private rapid-information platforms like Twitter, the purest and best use of which is to educate, inform and alert–often ahead of everyone else.
“I find that I am getting more valuable and timely information from the people I follow on Twitter than almost any other news source…. Twitter has become… like a newspaper … dynamically configured perfectly for me.”
I am reminded of a beloved partner at my law firm who flatly refused to use email, preferring to issue take-a-memo styled responses through his refined, formidable and equally beloved assistant. Much is forgiven those – like him – who generate many millions of dollars in revenues. But a word of caution: Bucking progress is definitively less charming absent robust receipts and highly leveraged billable hours. Ultimately, it is bad business to reject efficient new technologies.
So, for the lawyers and law students out there who have not yet caught on, I have some exceptionally good advice–and it does not require you to post a single Tweet (at least not until an important prospect gets active in the blogosphere and you need to play catch-up ball). In fact, the best thing to do now is to relax, live large and “lurk”….but thoughtfully, and with purpose.
Be a News Scout: Network with News and Opinion
First, a few truths:
- It is the rare lawyer or other business professional who will succeed, much less survive, without a rich and active professional network.
- Business development is all about people. Successful networking and business generation depend in large part on one’s ability to add value and, over time, to become indispensable.
- The best way to build relationships is to help others advance their careers and personal agendas.
- Finally, a simple method for adding value and building visibility is to become an effective news, data and opinion “curator” — the purveyor of superior information.
Unfortunately, no browser, RSS reader or other compilation filters the web’s wealth of data both simply and effectively.
- For example, even a carefully refined algorithm-bound and SEO-slanted Google search will steer me to the most popular (often banal or shallow) answers, the mainstream view or the potentially inaccurate, though democratic, wiki-response. If yesterday you published the most comprehensive, current and insightful article on the subject but you do not have a Google favored online presence I will likely not see it, at least not until it is stale.
The immense and unwieldy internet offers a super-abundance of broad-spectrum, as-it-happens news and information, ranging in value from priceless to middling to worthless to “fake”. It provides wonderful opportunities to assist or command the attention of prospects and clients alike–and, in my capacity as coach, to help my clients help theirs.
Here’s a figurative screen-shot of what I’m learning about this week using Twitter, Hootsuite and LinkedIn news research:
The food and beverage, tech and healthcare sectors, tech globalization, cybersecurity and data breach coaching, supply chain management, blockchain and bitcoin, originalism, whistleblower protections, reps and warranties insurance and seller-flips at auction, the imposter syndrome, Zagster and dockless bike sharing, alternative fee arrangements, non-alcoholic beer trends, the never-changing barriers to advancement of women and lawyers of color, FQ3 VC investments, divorce mediation, hedge fund tax loopholes, cannabis law practice, Faiza Saeed, John Manning, Jeff Bezos, Christine LaGarde and this whole incredible odd couple CVS-Aetna thing (watch out for Jeff Bezos again).
And, as a business development coach to lawyers, I’m always on the alert for information about the places, ideas, people, companies, sports, hometowns and other things of meaning to their professional colleagues and friends.
So I’m busy: And I can neither learn from, nor trade in, nor add value through, old news.
My point: My best shot at scooping the targeted news and information I need before it’s obsolete is to read the links tweeted by the smart, creative, opinionated and occasionally offbeat and relatively unknown thinkers I choose to follow on Twitter, and to follow the niche-Tweets of the top newswire services (who more and more frequently herald breaking news first on Twitter, before posting the actual news stories on their websites).
Overwhelming? No. Everyone can do this and do it well.
With a few hours invested in start-up (identifying good people and news services to follow, and organizing them into Twitter lists–just follow the Twitter prompts), a quality dashboard application (I recommend Hootsuite–again, follow the prompts), an informed and zealous guide (we are everywhere), and a regular commitment of time and discipline, you can channel Twitter, and other rapid-information platforms, to serve up data, opinions, advice and predictions that are of broad value to your clients, prospects and other key contacts, often at light speed.
If you are nimble and alert, you can deploy this wealth of knowledge to build and deepen critical relationships, and to stay “top of mind” for those who live and work at a distance or are otherwise difficult to access in person. You can also–and this is sometimes the real bonus—build what I call “the confidence of knowledge”: using the news and smart commentary you absorb day to day to navigate challenging (read: anxiety provoking) professional situations and cope with critical, but intimidating, clients and colleagues.
Then, go forth and be their much needed web filter, their “curator”. Be their favorite scout. Being on top of what’s going on around you will keep you top of mind. Watch for ways to help, and ways to protect. At a minimum you’ll learn to speak the language of their careers, a critical step in developing any business relationship and in winning the confidence of a potential client or referral source.
Two crucial caveats:
- Social media assisted networking and business generation enhances and enables, but cannot substitute for, disciplined, inspired, follow-up and personal contact. (And by inspired, I mean something over and above “random acts of lunch or dinner”.)
- Before you consider upgrading your online networking strategy, be sure you know what your audience needs to hear, see and learn. Listen—to them and to their colleagues and employers and the word on the street about their companies and industries. Know what they think about, what they read, what they hope for and what keeps them up at night. Don’t pitch them yet. Do not under any circumstances launch into your “elevator speech”. Just ask good questions and listen hard to the answers.
Then, go forth and be their much needed web filter, their “curator”. Be their favorite scout. Being on top of what’s going on around you will keep you top of mind. Watch for ways to help, and ways to protect. At a minimum you’ll learn to speak the language of their businesses, and of their careers, a critical step in developing any business relationship and in winning the confidence of a potential client or referral source.
You may also like:
- Part 3: 5 Easy Ways to Help Your Network…and Grow…
Giving and helping are everything. The ideal way to build and deepen your rapport with your clients, prospects, colleagues, referral sources and other important contacts is to learn as much as you can about each person and identify what he or she needs to be successful and fulfilled. Once you’ve done that, things get very simple. You just need to help meet those needs. Here are five more simple ways to do that — drawn from my own practice and that of my partners and clients. Parts 4 and 5 still to come.
- Part 2: 5 Easy Ways to Help Your Network…and Grow…
Giving and helping are everything. The ideal way to build and deepen your rapport with your clients, prospects, colleagues, referral sources and other important contacts is to learn as much as you can about each person and identify what he or she needs to be successful and fulfilled. Once you’ve done that, things get very simple. You just need to help meet those needs. Here are five more simple ways to do that–drawn from my own practice and that of my partners and clients.
- 5 Easy Ways to Help Your Network…and Grow your Law…
Giving and helping are everything. The ideal way to build and deepen your rapport with your clients, prospects, colleagues, referral sources and other important contacts is to learn as much as you can about each person and identify what he or she needs to be successful and fulfilled. Once you’ve done that, things get very simple. You just need to help meet those needs. Here are 5 (out of 25) simple ways to do that–drawn from my own practice and that of my partners and clients. More to come in Parts 2 through 5….
- Lawyers: It’s Official… “The Time for LinkedIn Has Come. Really.”
BTI Consulting’s recent report on LinkedIn usage offers even more persuasive statistical support for advice that I and so many of my colleagues have offered for years: If you wish to access your clients, including the high percentage of general counsel actively using LinkedIn to find new ideas and new counsel, you must be present–and engaged–on this crucial professional platform.