Twitter for the Young Lawyer

We’re happy to welcome this guest post from Victoria Santoro exploring how young lawyers can use Twitter. Victoria is a litigator with Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, P.C. in Boston, MA. You can follow Victoria on Twitter @TheLimberLawyer.

Twitter accounts, in large part, break into two camps. Fun and business. Jokes and brand-building. So, as a young lawyer, where exactly do you fit? You can’t join Twitter as a professional and simply tweet inappropriate jokes. There is probably no faster way to undermine yourself. But, on the other hand, you have no personal brand to build (yet), you most likely have no personal marketing strategy, and you don’t want your tweets to be all about your law firm, or the most recent legal decision. Boring.  Here’s how to go about grabbing your corner of the Twitterverse:

Pick Your Niche, And Cultivate It

Put your thinking cap on, and try and figure out what you bring to the marketplace that is unique, fun, creative, smart or all of the above. Are you the person who just loves e-discovery? Become the Twitter expert on e-discovery tips and tricks. Do you commute on your bicycle and handle personal injury claims? There is a way to combine those two things. Take stock of the things in your life that you do and love, package your thoughts into digestible pieces, and get on the internet.

Once you’ve chosen what you hope your niche to be, find and follow other thought leaders Interact with people you respect to both gain followers and also, more importantly, make some new connections. Following interesting people on Twitter inevitably leads to more people to follow on Twitter, and more connections to make.

This process is like picking a new neighborhood and moving in. There are lots of considerations, you want to be comfortable, and you want the right kind of neighbors. Picking who to follow and therefore growing the right types of followers is really important. These are going to be the consumers of your thoughts. They are your customers. They will, hopefully, become your fans. Treat them with the respect any other customer, client or fan would expect.

Create Original Content

Don’t just tweet to tweet. Twitter is there, but that doesn’t mean you have to be using it all the time. Don’t just retweet other people’s thoughts. Sure, retweets go a long way in forming good bonds on Twitter, but this should be 10-20% of your overall output. What people want to see and read are your original thoughts and your personal perspective on interesting issues affecting your niche market. Blog about how you achieve work/life balance, provide insight into a particularly difficult procedural question, or analyze the impact of a recent Appeals Court decision. Whatever corner of the market you choose to occupy, fill it with original content.

Get Real

As with so many things, Twitter connections can remain safely on the internet if you want them to. But true value comes from making meaningful connections with other people. And so I recommend getting real, in two ways.

During a presentation I gave recently, I talked about the importance of being yourself online. But you can’t really be your whole self, can you? The answer is no, you can’t. I understand that, but I also know you can inject a great deal of personality into your online presence without crossing any professional lines. This is the first way to get real. Some of your tweets should be personal. These glimpses into who you are, not just as a lawyer, but as a cook, parent, sibling, artist, or burgeoning stand-up comic will draw more and more people into your sphere, because they’ll like you. Personal and professional lines are ever more blurry, and contacts expect you to be yourself. Relax a little, crack some jokes, and brag about your latest 5k. There is nothing like authenticity to create a compelling Twitter feed.

Finally, scary as it may sound, turn some Twitter connections into face to face meetings. I am by no means advocating meeting random strangers at night, in unknown parts of town. But, as you begin to get to know your followers and get immersed in your niche, you’ll hear about receptions, conventions and networking events. Jump into the fold and go to those events. Let certain followers know you’ll be there and try to meet up. Although the internet has tried, and will continue to try, to replace live interactions, there will never be a better way to grow your client and referral network than by shaking hands and having a real conversation.

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