Immigration Practice News

March 2013 (Vol. 4, No. 3)

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How to Build Your Professional Image with Social Media by David Cox A ttorneys are notorious for being aloof and stodgy. Walls lined with mahogany bookshelves and lawyers in starched shirts and designers suits sitting at oak desks only fuel that image. But even the most traditional law firms are recognizing the value of the newest media trends. How can lawyers bridge the gap between their professional image and the free-for-all exposure that comes from participating in today's social media frenzy? Start with these basic principles. FIRST, GET INTO THE GAME. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, are not mere fads. Like email, these relatively new tools are now permanent players in business communication. Don't assume you can distinguish yourself by keeping a low online profile. Your clients may already expect to be connected with your firm, using these tools. SECOND, GET HELP. Unless you are already social media savvy, hire someone to create and maintain a presence on your behalf. Many web service providers now offer this service. In addition, some attorneys with more experience are offering their social media expertise to their colleagues. Ask around to see if someone you know and trust can help you. The value of social media is always being connected to your audience. Reacting Social Media 101 Twitter is for LinkedIn is Facebook allows quick bursts of great for longer posts, but information, discussing limit discussion like a professional to broad headline or achievements treatments of announcement. and legal issues. topics. in real time is critical. If you can't find the time to stay connected, delegate this task to someone who can. media as if you are at a social gathering. Posts should not regularly feature hyperlinks to your website. If your audience wanted to see what's on your website, they would just go there directly. Consider posting your opinion or commenting on an interesting current legal issue. Digest the content you are providing so your clients can get what they need right from your post. Then, feel free to link to additional information about the topic. People will follow, like, connect and join circles with you on these platforms because they are interested in the topics and issues you address. Reward your followers with content that keeps them coming back for more. THIRD, KEEP YOUR PERSONAL LIFE SEPARATE FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE. Get different accounts for each. Your clients don't want to see pictures from your latest vacation or hear your personal views on current events—save those inputs for your personal accounts. Use your business social media account to update clients on changes in the law, describe successful outcomes, or announce events you are hosting. Many successful attorneys maintain a blog where they post lengthier content targeted to the same audience. Linking to blog posts through social media is a great way to drive traffic to your blog (and your website). FINALLY, DON'T MIX AND MATCH. Cross posting the same content to different media ignores the unique value of each. Linked In is great for professional networking. Sharing professional accomplishments and discussing legal issues works well on that site. Twitter is for quick bursts of information, like a headline or announcement. Facebook allows longer posts but the audience is more mixed, so limit discussion to broad treatments of topics. FOURTH, KEEP IT INTERESTING. Don't forget the "social" part of social media. Engage your clients using the David Cox, has been practicing immigration and criminal defense law since 1993. MISS AN ISSUE? No Sweat. Check out AILA's archive. Follow these social media tips (and AILA) and you'll soon shed that stodgy image. FOLLOW AILA FOR THE LATEST ON IMMIGRATION! YOUTUBE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, and LINKEDIN COPYRIGHT © 2013 AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRINTED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. SEND REPRINT REQUESTS TO PUBS@AILA.ORG www.aila.org 8

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