Social Attorney: Using Social Media to your Advantage

National Bar Association Corporate Counsel Leadership Summit 2017How present are you on social media? Today, social media acts as a virtual connector to a global audience of onlookers, gawkers, and potential game-changers. Your online presence is vital to your survival in the business world—whether it’s to your success or to your detriment.

At the recent National Bar Association Corporate Counsel Leadership Summit, my fellow panelists and I explored how lawyers need to use social media. Shawn White, Associate General Counsel at ICANN, said it best: "Ultimately, the ability to do what you love may depend on finding as many avenues as possible to make your character, passions, and interest known in the marketplace." Social media provides multiple avenues to do just that whether you are writing a blog to demonstrate your subject-matter expertise, posting pictures from an event you attended on Instagram or tweeting your response to new legislation in 140 characters or less. Through each of these platforms, you have an opportunity to share your personality, opinion, and knowledge. All of these things will help you set yourself apart from others who hold similar jobs and are vying for the same roles. Grace Speights, Partner at Morgan Lewis in DC, offered these tips for cultivating your personal brand on social media:

  • Be consistent.
  • Be a thought leader in your area of practice.
  • Check in daily, read, comment and share.
  • Show a personal side of yourself.

Your social media presence is an extension of who you are and thus part of your personal identity—and brand. How you are "selling" yourself online is a huge component of how others (including potential employers and influencers in your career) see you. "In-house cultures differ tremendously and to the extent your social media voice consistently highlights your passions, you help internal resources identify the best fit. You may even find sponsors and mentors based on your unique voice and passions," explained Shawn.

So when it comes to your career goals, you need to be using social media as a networking tool to solidify your current role and prepare for the next one, said Ray Ferrell, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary DexYP. Paula Edgar, CEO of PGE LLC, a speaking, coaching and consulting firm, explained that social media is a great business development tool, where you can connect with former colleagues and classmates as well as potential clients. You have an opportunity to showcase yourself to an extended community around the world just by making key connections. By building these connections, you are networking in a similar way to attending an in-person networking event—just 24 hours a day and at everyone else's convenience. Take these opportunities to post about your speaking engagements, share articles you've written (and content that is relevant to your area of expertise) and tout important milestones and successes.

However, you need to understand that everything you do on social media has a personal brand impact Ray reminded everyone. This is the good, the bad and the ugly. So post to social media with intention said Paula. Think about the following before posting:

  • What are your goals for using social media?
  • Who is watching you? Whom are you connected to?
  • Who do you want to be watching your profile?

Once you have identified your social media goals and audience, focus on giving your audience what they want and need from you. Over time, your audience will begin to recognize and relate to your brand—and you'll build important relationships. 

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Sonya SomSonya Som is a partner in Major Lindsey & Africa's Chicago/ Midwest office and is primarily responsible for strategizing and leading networking, business development and marketing initiatives for our In-House Practice Group team throughout the Midwest.

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