Originally posted on The National Law Journal on January 24, 2013
A lot of lawyers had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to LinkedIn.com. Now that they are there, many realize not only that is it an effective tool to connect with old colleagues and new prospects, but also that it is dead easy to use.
“I will never use Twitter, though,” one such lawyer convert to LinkedIn told me a couple of weeks ago. “It just doesn’t seem to serve any business purpose.”
I want to ask you to give Twitter a chance, just for a moment. Set aside your preconceived notions about it and just take these three simple steps.
1. Try Twitter as a search engine.
The most common reason people give for not wanting to try Twitter is that they have no interest in hearing about what some stranger had for lunch. What they mean is that they have no time for irrelevant information. But Twitter has a search feature that allows you to go straight to what you are looking for. You don’t even need a Twitter account! Just go here.
It looks just like this:
Look familiar? It’s just like searching Google, except that now you can search all of the conversations about a specific topic in the entire world at this very moment. For “Affordable Care Act” if you are a healthcare lawyer; “payroll tax increase” if you are a corporate lawyer; “death tax” for estate lawyers. You find out what is being said and reported about these important issues—and which articles are generating the most buzz. What are your clients talking about? What is keeping them up at night? Try the Twitter search, and you may find the answer.
2. Take 15 minutes to create an account.
Have you googled yourself lately? If you have a LinkedIn account, it will show up as the first or second result when you Google your name. Twitter will likely show up third, and if you have a decent firm website it will show up first. The great thing about a Twitter bio is that it doesn’t take hours to write as your LinkedIn bio does; it really only takes a few minutes, because the key to Twitter’s success is brevity. All you need to create a complete Twitter account is six things: a picture to upload; a 160 character bio (about two sentences); a Twitter handle (or @johnhancock) that you want to go by; a link to your law firm bio or website; and what city you live in. With that, you are done.
Share a dozen tweets, or follow a few dozen interesting people, and suddenly you look like you know what you’re doing. And you do. Twitter is that easy.
3. Try Twitter as a business development tool.
Interested in connecting with a potential client, but not sure how to land on their radar? Follow them on Twitter. Take note of the type of articles they share, what sporting teams they talk about—what they are interested in. It will be far easier this way to break the ice when the time comes because when you finally meet face to face you won’t be trapped into talking about yourself; you can show sincere interest in the client and his interests.
To find the client, use the search tool I mentioned above and, once you find that individual’s profile, click “Follow.”
Following someone on Twitter is not a long-term commitment. They will receive an email notification that you are now following them but likely will never know if you later un-follow them. Twitter is far more fluid in this sense than Facebook or Linkedin; people get followed and un-followed all the time without hurt feelings.
This isn’t to say that your mother wouldn’t be offended if you un-followed her, but generally speaking the attitude on Twitter is: Follow me if you find my tweets interesting or useful, un-follow me if not, and that is ok.
Twitter has a silly name, but don’t let that petty detail get in the way of you trying something you might really enjoy. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, not because it is trendy, but because it is useful. I’m not saying you have to love it, I’m just saying you should try. At least a few bites. Let me know what you think.
Adrian Dayton is a non-practicing attorney that speaks to law firms and professional groups all over the world about the effective use of social media for business development. His first book Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition (Ark Group 2012) is in its second edition and you grab a free excerpt at or you can follow Adrian on Twitter @adriandayton.
So many points here are applicable to potential SM users not just lawyers.
Use as a business development tool is spot on.