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As a marketer I rarely, if ever, try to "convince" a law firm or lawyer that social media and networking is something they MUST do. When I speak to groups of lawyers [or marketers] on the topic, I am careful to craft my speeches in a way that presents details, offers illustrations of what others are doing, and I like to share stories about what is or is not working. In other words, I try to give others enough information, pertinent information, which empowers them in making their own decision. But, it's really more than that...without a need a tool has no meaning.
Whenever I hear a social media guru preach about the miracles of the social Web and how everyone should be doing this or that, I cringe. It's like the construction worker who only knows how to use a hammer and so everything starts looking like a nail.
You see, digital communications and the social Web are fantastic tools, but without a need they have no meaning. How could I get in front of a group of strangers-in most cases-and urge them to use tools that they don't need? If you're working on your bike and you need an Allen wrench and someone hands you a screwdriver, it just won't work. The screwdriver has no purpose, no meaning-it's no use. I guess you could try to force the issue and try to use the wrong tool, but you probably won't get the results you're looking for, you'll be unhappy, and you could waste a lot of time.
Likewise, if you're not already developing business off-line, or you don't know how to work a room, write about something people want to read, or understand the buyer and seller process, then you're probably not going to find the social Web very helpful; it may be the wrong tool for you.
The impulses, skills, and personality types that make great rainmakers aren't overtly impacted by the tools they use. Their success is the result of their behaviors, such as their ability to listen, see a need and respond.
Sure they need opportunities for exposure, conversation, and relationship and they use a variety of tools and tactics to inform, educate, relate or influence, but the focus is always on people and relationships - people, not tools, buy and use legal services.
For a rainmaker, whatever needs to happen.... well, there is a tool for that. Whether it is buying a table of ten, attending a golf tournament, sponsoring a little league team or getting some PR...whether it is writing a blog post, starting a discussion in an online social networking group, or Tweeting or forwarding articles via email, the best results will come from the operator using the RIGHT tool at the RIGHT time.
Sometimes proof or case studies can help us to identify with and understand our audiences; where they are and what tools might be effective in reaching them. One method is to look at survey data.
A recently released survey by GreenTarget, zeughauser Group and ALM Legal Intelligence documents attitudes and adoption (Consumption, Familiarity and Use) of New Media by in-house counsel lawyers. You may also find Heather Milligan's recap of it at the Legal Watercooler Blog helpful, or the original research can be found on the GreenTarget Web site.*
I'm betting there are tons of marketing directors downloading the report right now and walking it down the hall to the managing partner's office, and I'm really happy for them that they may have something that might help them make the case. You may also want to look at a recently release compilation of AmLaw 100 firms and their use of particular digital tools from MyCorporateResource.com.
*-One note on the GreenTarget research sample. It interviewed only 164 in-house counsel attorneys-there are 25,000 members of Association of Corporate Counsel. I'm not a researcher and I don't know the answer to this, maybe one of my readers can help me out... Does this type of research work like a "representative sample thing" suggesting that we can conclude from this small sample that it reflects the attitudes of the whole in-house counsel bar? What does this data mean to you?
Read more at the Virtual Marketing Officer Blog.