Many lawyers blog. But what about live blogging while at a conference?
One of the most exciting conferences for interactive (technology) as well as film and music is going on right now in Austin: SXSW . Social Media Today’s Lee Oden, blogging live from SXSW, posted some great tips for effective live blogging while at SXSW.
Lawyers could apply these same tips while blogging and posting live during legal or industry conferences.
For example, Lee suggests checking out the conference schedule in advance, and planning to arrive at key sessions early (so that you’re seated near a plug.) I’d also suggest examining all concurrent sessions and selecting ones that would be particularly interesting your blog readership.
Lee suggests typing the posts in an application like Notepad and then transferring them to your blog. This works well in case you lose your internet connection during a session.
Promoting your posts immediately is also key, Lee notes, via Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. To take advantage of the “real time” nature of your blogging efforts; you want to get the word out fast.
Live blogging has an excitement and sense of “urgency” that blogging after the fact doesn’t (much like live journalistic coverage is more thrilling than recap reporting). Of course, blogging during conferences is also a great way to reach readers across the globe who couldn’t ravel to attend the conference in person; even if they read your posts the next day rather than in real time, the coverage will still be fresher than the summaries printed in post-conference newsletters months later.
By now, many lawyers are using (or considering using) social media sources like Facebook and Twitter. In her helpful article “Social Media 101” for a recent issue of the Texas Bar Journal, lawyer coach Debra Bruce sets forth the pros and cons of various professionally-focused networking sites for specifically for lawyers like Legal OnRamp, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, JD Supra, and LawLink.
But what about lawyers who wants to start networking internationally?
Facebook is a good, general place to begin international social networking expansion, especially with the 2008 launch of Facebook en español (with French and German versions expected next). In South America, Orkut, Sónico, and Fotolog are also very popular, with 54% of Orkut’s users being Portuguese speakers from Brazil. (Americas Quarterly reports that asking a Brazilian for his/her “Orkut name” is as common as requesting a telephone number or email.)
The Google-owned Orkut remains popular in India, although Facebook recently unseated it as the most popular social networking site. Friendster continues to be popular in Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, although its influence in the region is slipping–coinciding with Facebook’s rollout of sites for Malaysia, the Phillipines and Vietnam. China boasts a number of popular social media sites. According to ReadWriteWeb, while China’s Renren.com may have the most members, but Kaixin001.com claims to have more educated members.
Lawyers wanting to reach European clients should consider joining European social networking sites in addition to Facebook. According to Bas van den Beld, owner of stateofsearch.com, Facebook leads the way in 11 out of 17 European countries, but Skyrock (France), Tuenti (Spain), StudiVZ Group (Germany), Hyves (Netherlands), all have hold in their respective country. The social networking site Xing (founded in Germany) markets to all European professionals.
Creating a social media presence abroad can be an effective and inexpensive way to start relationships globally. Why not extend your social media reach abroad into your prospective clients’ backyards?
Want to become a popular source for the press? Want to work well with the foreign press? Paramjit Mahli of the SCG Legal PR Network has some great tips for lawyers on both:
Becoming a popular press source:
Working well with the foreign press:
To the latter post I commented that knowing how to communicate with reporters from foreign cultures can be invaluable. Americans tend to be very direct communicators, very individualistic, and comfortable with self promotion. As a result, many American lawyers are quoted with a string of sentences beginning with, “I think…”, “I know…” and “In my opinion…”. Although lawyers should make their opinions known, when communicating with a reporter from a less individualistic and more indirect culture, American lawyers should avoid starting every sentence with “I”.
Last night I got to introduce John Otis, TIME and Global Post correspondent in Bogota, before a local World Affairs Council event. John recently published Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure. Many years ago as a young journalist he made his way from Minnesota to South America with his typewriter crammed in his backpack; the typewriter took up so much room that he had to abandon his sleeping bag.
John read from his fascinating book, a fact which I later described on my Facebook page. What interested me was the response that I got. Although my comments were brief, a number of friends emailed me asking where they could buy the book (answer: Amazon). Since my description was minimal, I concluded that it was the book’s snappy, intriguing title which had garnered so much attention. Words like “Buried Treasure” do pique the imagination.
So, when writing articles, blog posts, or even letters to clients, how can you grab your reader’s attention? Although allusions to the “Jungle” and “Hostages” may not be appropriate, writing in a compelling way (not legalese) will set you apart from most lawyers. Need help? There are plenty of books, like Words that Work, to give you guidance.
Recently, lots of international lawyers (from Caracas to New York to Tokyo) have been asking me about the advantages, necessity and advisability of using social media. Here are some of the most common Q&As.
WHO: Who should try social media? Every lawyer who wants to extend his/her reach internationally. As of today, Alexa.com reports that the second highest percentage of traffic to LinkedIn comes from India (44% from US; 13.7% from India)–and this trend is growing. This means that if you want to extend your networks of contacts in India, LinkedIn would be a pretty good place to start.
WHY: Why use it? Social networking is an easy and cost-effective way for lawyers to expand their networks internationally. It enhances–not replaces–personal relationship building. Will social networking bring in clients? Sometimes. I have had several clients find me on LinkedIn, and then hire me (without having met me personally). However, I really use social media to develop a broader range of contacts, and renew and solidify current relationships. It’s also a great way to stay abreast of current trends–easily done by joining “groups” on LinkedIn (like the International Bar Association group), Facebook and the like. Social media can also be a powerful “personal branding” tool. Isn’t it better to define your own brand on the web–instead of letting other people (and any negative news stories) do it for you?
WHERE: Where should I participate? So many sites…so little time. So, focus your efforts. Lawyers benefit from joining general professional networking sites like LinkedIn and Xing (popular in Europe), and ones expressly for lawyers (like Martindale-Hubbell Connected). Lawyers can raise their profile with by commenting on blog posts, whether in publications like the ABA Journal online (as I did for this article on how Twitter is spawning legal work),or Law.com, or in one of the many private legal blogs (like the award winning China Law Blog). Better yet, post comments to industry blogs read by your ideal clients; for example, if you want to reach accountants, post comment on these accounting blogs.
WHAT: What should I write? Whether you are blogging, posting comments online, creating social media profiles, or tweeting, do it with your personal brand in mind. What do you want people to know about you? What professional expertise can you show? Remember, authenticity is imperative; don’t pretend that you’re something that you’re not. However, lack of experience shouldn’t stop you from joining the multitude of conversations available through social media. Most of all, look for ways to be helpful to others via social media.
HOW: How do I start? Just do it! Log onto sites like Facebook (yes, it’s increasingly being used for professional purposes) and create a profile, or read some of the many helpful articles about social media basics for beginners. Of course, also check your firm’s website and make sure that your profile there is up to date. The more that you network elsewhere on the web, the more hits your firm profile will get–so make sure it’s accurate (and flattering!)
Let the conversation begin!
For some in-person insights on this topic, if you are in New York on April 13, 2010, please join me for a panel discussion on Social Networking for Lawyers: How Lawyers Can Use it to Enhance Their Marketing Success at the ABA’s Section of International Law’s Spring Meeting. It will be an interesting session featuring Dr. Silvia Hodges, Dan Harris, Frank Sommerfield and me, followed by a session of Speed Networking for International Lawyers.