Social Networking; Bah! Humbug!

 “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you are not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”        Stewart Brand

Social Networking, bah, humbug!!  Or is it?

As a marketing consultant, one would not expect me to be slow to the punch on social networking as a marketing tool for lawyers, but admittedly, I have been somewhat skeptical of its strengths, particularly on the heavily social leaning sites like Facebook and My Space.  It’s not that I doubt the power of any opportunity for networking, whether traditional or in the cyber world, it is really more a matter of time as a limited resource.  Networking is a critical component to any legal practice.  But with a limited amount of time to allocate towards marketing, lawyers need to choose their venues for networking well, so as to get the most bang for their buck.  What venue is right for you depends on who the clients are that you seek, and where they spend their time. 

If you are looking for business litigation clients, Facebook or MySpace are not likely to be prospect rich environments for you (not yet at least).  That’s not to say that you couldn’t get a business litigation client through Facebook, but the question is, if you have a limited amount of time to network, where should you spend that time?  If you want an alternative to the traditional networking venues, there are cyber options on networking sites with more of a business culture like LinkedIn.  So if you want to build your business prospects and want to give the cyber world a try, LinkedIn may be a better use of your time. 

On the other hand, if you are hoping to increase your family law business, ensuring that all your Facebook friends keep your family law practice on the tip of their tongue is probably a pretty good use of your time, since much of that business is built on people seeking attorneys through referrals from family and friends.  Again it is all about who your prospective clients are, where they hang out, and where they get their information.

But if you are wondering if networking sites are worth the trouble, in the long run, the answer is a resounding yes. Check out this video on youtube if you’re having doubts.  And if you are one of those who shudder at new technology, don’t despair.  You will not have to spend your days and nights “tweeting” or posting on Facebook.  Traditional marketing still wins the day.  It’s still about picking the right prospect rich venues and spending your time, resources and money there, to get the most out of your time and efforts.  The networking sites are simply another venue option, and the good news is they can make good ole fashioned elbow grease go a long way!