A lot of lawyers had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to LinkedIn.com. Now that they are there, many realize that, besides being an effective way to connect with old colleagues and new prospects, it is perfectly easy to use.
"I will never use Twitter , though," one such LinkedIn convert 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. Set aside your preconceived notions and take these three simple steps:
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 to twitter.com/search. It's just like a Google search, except that you can search through all of the conversations about a specific topic in the entire world in this very moment the "Affordable Care Act" if you are a health care lawyer; "payroll tax increase" if 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 Twitter search, and you may find the answer.
Take 15 minutes to create an account. The great thing about a Twitter bio is that it doesn't take hours to write; the key to Twitter, after all, is brevity. You need six things: a picture to upload; a 160 -character bio (about two sentences); a Twitter handle (i.e. @johnhancock); a link to your law firm bio or website; and the 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.
Try Twitter as a business -development tool. Interested in connecting with potential clients, but not sure how to land on their radar? Follow them on Twitter. Take note of the articles they share, the sporting teams they talk about, what they are interested in. It will be far easier to break the ice when you finally meet face to face because you'll have something to talk about; you can show interest in the client and his enthusiasms. To find a client, use the search tool I mentioned above. Once you find that individual's profile, click "Follow."
Following someone on Twitter is not a long-term commitment; people get followed and un-followed all the time without hurt feelings. The attitude 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. Twitter continues to grow 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.
Adrian Dayton is an attorney and author of the book Social Media for Lawyers (Twitter Edition). His website is adriandayton.com.