Social networking offers value for women lawyers

By Correy Stephenson

The Daily Record Newswire

Social media offers many benefits for lawyers, including expanding their contact base to providing greater opportunities to showcase their expertise.

But the flexibility of online networking offers an added value for women lawyers trying to juggle work and family, according to two female practitioners who are actively engaged in social media.

Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black, co-authors of "Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier" and authors of MyShingle and Sui Generis, respectively, recently hosted a webinar, "Social Media for Women Lawyers: How Women Lawyers Can Harness the Power of Social Media to Achieve Professional Goals" to discuss the online opportunities for female attorneys.

Women lawyers can benefit from social media in three specific ways, Elefant said.

First, men and women network differently, and social media plays to women's strengths, she said, focusing more on collaboration. Second, social media can compensate for the marketing opportunities that might have been lost for women during child-rearing years, when they may have been working part-time or on maternity leave while the men at their firm were building a book of business. And third, social networking provides access to a global network of women mentors, Elefant said, who can provide guidance or offer advice.

Black - who found Elefant through social networking in 2005 and relied on her for mentoring - said women should overcome their fears about social media and reap its benefits.

To get started, Black suggested lawyers "claim their profiles" on three free directory sites: Avvo, Justia and LinkedIn, adding as much information as possible and linking to any speaking engagements or publications. She estimated she gets 10 cold calls per month, as well as media attention and offers for speaking engagements, because of her social media efforts.

Focus on specific goals, such as speaking at a national conference, Elefant suggested, rather than just trying to amass hundreds of LinkedIn connections or thousands of followers on Twitter.

For women lawyers trying to maximize limited time, Black suggested "squeezing work into cracks," such as while standing in line at the grocery store or at soccer practice. Posting to social media while on "kid duty" is also an option, because it requires less attention than other legal work, like writing a summary judgment motion.

Repurposing and syndicating content saves time, because a blog post can be repurposed into a firm newsletter, broken up into Tweets or Facebook posts, expanded into an article or packaged with other posts into an e-book, Elefant said.

A smartphone is essential, the women agreed, with the cost of a data plan and the hardware offset by increased productivity and the opportunity to network while on the move.

Published: Mon, Dec 27, 2010