There are a myriad of ways in which you may meet up with like-minded individuals, or partner with professionals who are not members of your inner (or even outer) circle. There are groups for every proclivity under the sun. Are you a lawyer and mom? There’s a group. Lawyer and a single dad? There’s (probably) a group. Lawyer who’s interested in technology? There’s MeetUp Group.
And although the jury’s still out on just how much of these connections can be had on the internet, it does seem that social networking can give you a more direct line from A to B. With good old-fashioned socializing, however—although it may take you a bit longer–some might say you score higher points. There’s nothing like sitting across the table from a new colleague and sharing a cup of coffee or tea or a leisurely lunch. You can ask about their kids, their hobbies, their dreams and ambitions. You can share yours, too. And you can also exchange business cards (or include each other’s stats on your BlackBerry.).
Socializing has long been a tried-and-true method of securing clients. According to a Mashable blog on lawyers and technology, social media will fill the bill nicely and will, in fact, be the socializing tool of the future. A few tech-savvy lawyers were interviewed for their take on the subject.
“There is a strangely analog solution to all this social media,” said one. “The lawyers/experts we spoke with said that social media was most effective at creating offline relationships — meaning, the Internet helped them meet real people they might not have met or partnered with otherwise.” Another attorney had this to say: “As attorneys, we’re selling ourselves and our time and our degree.”
This attorney admitted that social media helps extend that effort. Speaking of social media, how does one contend with the sometimes confounding particulars? Whether to go with the trendy Facebook or the newest platform, Google +, for instance. As per “The Sociable Lawyer Blog”, you’ll want to go with a company that is anything but haphazard when running its social network.
This “responsible stewardship of…personal information”, notes the author, falls to the more entrenched company. “Facebook is a young, fast moving company that has proved itself to be cavalier in its movements, lacking in respect for user data privacy, and accident prone,” we read. “Google on the other hand, is a far more mature company that is, I would argue, seen as more trustworthy than Facebook. For the most part, Google has lived up to its “Don’t Be Evil” slogan.”
Perhaps it’s this fear of sharing personally identifiable information that has led to what can only be termed a moderately widespread blocking of social media by companies nationwide. According to The Chicago Tribune, the global law firm Proskauer surveyed 120 multinational employers, recently, and discovered that three-quarters of businesses use social media and just under 30 percent of these businesses prevent their employees from using it.
There’s a growing amount of international case law which allows employers to prohibit “the use of social network sites during work, both on an employer’s equipment and on an employee’s own devices and to block the sites on employer-provided equipment.” (They were not, however, allowed to look over the employees’ shoulder when the employees were using their own devices. This would violate privacy rights.)
When all is said and done, whether you’re stopping to talk to an attendee at a workshop or hobnobbing with a new bunch of folks you met in a group on-line, your agenda is looser and you’re both (or all) seeing each other during “open collar time”. There’s more of a chance to get to know the whole person, and that’s exactly the sort of quality impression that you want prospects—and potential friends—to take away from your meeting. Socializing–in all its forms—is well worth the while.