LAW LIFE: Expand your networking using social media

By Nicole Black

The Daily Record Newswire

If there's one thing that should be obvious at this point, it's that social media is not a fad -- it's a phenomenon. And it's not going away. So why not take advantage of the many benefits that it offers, including the ability to quickly and efficiently expand your professional network?

Expanding your professional network using online platforms simply makes sense. You can network on your own schedule and it doesn't take much time to maintain the relationships that you forge. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of online networking, as opposed to face-to-face networking, is the of flexibility that it offers.

Using social media, you can interact with other attorneys on your own terms. Rather than networking at set times, such as during your lunch hour or after work, you can network at anytime, day or night.

And, the benefits can be enormous. Your colleagues can act as a sounding board when you are faced with a particularly thorny legal issue, provide support in times of need, or offer congratulations following a courtroom victory or professional success. Your online professional network can also be a great information resource and serve as a regular source of referrals.

Of course, the most important part of online networking is to take your online relationships offline whenever possible. When you travel, reach out to those in your online network who live where you'll be traveling and meet your colleagues for coffee or lunch. Doing so helps to strengthen those relationships and create more meaningful connections.

I speak from experience. I've benefited greatly from my strong online network and regularly meet up with online colleagues whenever I travel to a new location.

For example, I'm writing this article from Arizona, where I'm on a vacation with my family. I posted about my trip on Facebook and Twitter and three different online connections reached out to me, asking if I could meet up with them. So far, I've had coffee with a partner in a large Phoenix law firm who is also a fellow American Bar Association author and is on a planning committee for a cloud computing conference, met a Tennessee-based lawyer for breakfast who is in town for a legal conference and is a well-known legal technology blogger and iPad aficionado, and have plans to meet a New York City attorney for coffee who just happens to be vacationing here.

And, on past trips I've played tennis with a co-founder of a legal cloud computing company, met lawyers, other legal professionals and non-legal professionals involved in the technology field for lunch, coffee, dinner or drinks, in locations as varied as Toronto, Chicago, New York City, West Palm Beach, Atlantic City, Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C.

Every time I meet an online connection face-to-face, I always have an enjoyable time, and, without fail, learn something new. Not to mention the added benefit of strengthening a professional connection, and in many cases, gaining a new friend. Who could ask for more than that?

So, why not expand your professional network using social media? You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Expanding your professional network is a simple, time efficient way to take advantage of social media. So, choose the platforms with which you are most comfortable, dive in, interact and watch your network grow.

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Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at nblack@nicoleblackesq.com.

Published: Thu, Feb 23, 2012

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