It’s all about relationships.
That might sound odd, coming as it does from an Internet guru who spends large chunks of his day alone with his smart phone and tablet.
But Seattle social media pioneer Kevin O’Keefe says the relationships he is making on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are more or less the same as those made the old-fashioned way by shaking hands and distributing business cards – only infinitely more influential.
O’Keefe is the founder and CEO of the social media company LexBlog. He spoke to a group of North Carolina lawyers September 26 at a seminar and workshop hosted by Lawyers Mutual titled “Internet Networking for Business Development.”
“Lawyers who grow their network of relationships and their word-of-mouth reputation will win,” O’Keefe told the group. “The Internet is an accelerator of both of those things.”
According to its website, LexBlog provides a turnkey law blog and social media solution for lawyers looking to boost their practice through online marketing. In other words, his company builds Internet relationships.
“Forty percent of law firms say blogs and social media bring in new business,” he said. “Fifty-five percent of in-house counsel use blogs to hire new employees. All new associates fresh out of law school use social media.”
O’Keefe – a former practicing attorney, trial lawyer in Ireland, LexisNexis vice president, AOL online advisor – is a baseball fan, devoted father and family man. He is also a big believer in the power of social media. More than 7,000 lawyers worldwide blog and network on LexBlog, and that number is growing daily.
Following are some of his tips for building a winning social media strategy:
- Start with a great reputation. Surveys show most people find lawyers today the same way they’ve been doing it for years – through word of mouth. Make sure people are saying positive things about you.
- Know the basics. You need not be a tech expert to establish an effective social media presence. The essential platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and blogs. Most of these services are free. You can create an account in minutes and learn all you need to know through YouTube videos.
- Get with the program. Seventy-eight percent of top business executives use social media professionally. That percentage will only increase in coming years. Lawyers will either swim with the tide or sink to oblivion.
- Marketing is a conversation. It is not a broadcast. The goal is to initiate dialogue and tweak people’s interest. Put out information that is timely, relevant and entertaining. Encourage feedback and comments. The business will follow.
- Show and tell. Use video, audio, photos and graphics to attract attention. You can record a video on a smart phone and have it uploaded to your blog or website in minutes.
- Have fun. A corporate lawyer who loved horses launched a blog about equine law just for fun. Within months she had become the go-to attorney in this practice niche, counting among her clients the Kentucky Derby organization. Another lawyer who loved fashion and design started a blog on these topics. Now she is a partner in a big firm where she represents clothing designers worldwide.
Above all don’t be afraid of so-called new media. O’Keefe made it clear that the old rules still apply – persistence, professionalism and a pleasing personality will mean success, online or off.
And thanks to Lawyers Mutual for bringing big-time tech talent to our front door. Risk management rocks!
Jay Reeves is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. He has practiced in both states and was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He writes the Risk Man column of practice pointers and risk management tips. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 919-619-2441.