February 2013 | Technology/ABA TECHSHOW 2013
Through writing the American Bar Association’s “Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers”, I have been immersed in the subject for (many more than one) hours. While many attorneys remain reluctant to embrace Twitter because they don’t know what’s in it for them, the uneasy answer is that what you get out of Twitter, in large part, depends on what you want out of it.
Maybe you want clients and money (sure you do); but, Twitter has value beyond its capacity as a lead generation tool. In fact, I think that the most important advantages that attorneys gain from Twitter relate to professional development, since the service, if used correctly, allows you unprecedented, immediate access to thought leaders within the legal industry. Under this heading is the ability for lawyers to amplify their conference experience, whether they’re in attendance . . . or not.
No, you’re not going to be able to make every CLE program or legal conference that you’d like to attend; and, even when you’re there, there’s always another question you’d like to ask (those lines are long), or point you’d like to make (you’re behind a pole, and no one sees that you’ve raised your hand). But, within the construct of traditional CLE programming, you’ve got to fit your engagement within the arrayed time structures laid out by someone you don’t even know. Twitter blows the top off of that model. You can engage speakers, other attendees, vendors, those with an interest who could not attend . . . pretty much anyone you want, who has, in some way, associated himself or herself with the conference, or the conference subject matter. Heck, if you’re at home, you could even get somebody to grab you a swag bag. You can become heavily involved in a continuing online conversation about program topics, without the strictures of agendas. The schedule becomes your schedule, since you can turn off your computer, or log off of your account, whenever you want. If you’re participating from afar, you can go make some ziti, and return to the party later; if you’re in attendance, you can power down and start networking in-person, the old-fashioned way. But, in any event, the point is that the web interface, the online discussion, is there for you whenever you want. With the prevalence of online access to presentations, and this yoked short-term internet community discussed in this article, it means that you never have to miss a program, or a conversation.
When you’re using Twitter to create or amplify and expand your conference attendance, some small technicalities are involved. The most important is that you’ll need to know what the conference hashtag is, or you’ll need to create one, if the organizers have not. ABA TECHSHOW makes it easy; the hashtag is: #ABATECHSHOW. The hashtag is the axis from which a conversations spins in Twitter. Include the hashtag in every conference-related tweet, so that your impressions are anchored to the flow of that conversation. Without using the hashtag, your brilliant point floats off into the ether, uncategorized. If you have any sub-hashtags (perhaps a track or presentation at a conference has its own hashtag), apply that one/those ones, too.
If you’d like to immerse yourself in the online conference experience, try a free program called TweetChat, which will give you access to the conference feed via a separate interface; it will even include the hashtag for you automatically, each time you tweet from the page. (You can accomplish the same thing within Twitter.com, or one of the third-party social media management applications, like HootSuite; but those are systems you jury-rig, and which do not have the seamless functionality that TweetChat adopts for the purpose.) The rest of your Twitter toolchest still works, even as we’re talking conference attendance: You can retweet (RT) useful content. Favorite speakers’ and attendee’s posts that you like particularly. Create a list of the best conference speakers.
Of course, because you can run out of time, without whatever limitations are imposed by a conference schedule, including the designation for when that conference should end, the fun doesn’t have to stop just because someone else says so. You can ride the cresting wave of your conference experience until it comes to its rest upon whatever shore you choose. You can produce and tweet a recap-style blog post, thereby, potentially, piggybacking off of a popular conference, to drive hits to your own websites -just don’t forget the hashtag.
If you make a connection via your conference participation, you needn’t remove yourself from that budding relationship as soon as the conference comes to an end. Extend the conversation; and then, grow the relationship beyond your shared conference experience. You’ve gotten your icebreaker out of the way; now, you need to figure out how to leverage the relationship beyond that. Certainly, if it’s a big conference, it’s never too early to gear up for next year. See what you can do about getting in on the pre-conference planning. Write a promotional blog post, reflecting what you got out of the show last year, and what you’d expect to get out of it in the coming year. And, of course, tweet on conference topics as announcements are made, and as information is released. Inject your opinions into the conversation before, during and after the conference, to create the most value around your participation.
Certainly, if you want to be participating in, before, during and after any conference, it is ABA TECHSHOW, the premier legal technology conference and expo. If you need further encouragement, know that I will be speaking at TECHSHOW this year (twice: once on remote access, and then again on social media), as well as hosting a Taste of TECHSHOW dinner at an as-yet-unnamed steakhouse . . . plus, I’ll be on Twitter (of course), @jaredcorreia. And, if you’re looking for more Twitter tips like the ones in this article, you can find those at my book, “Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers”, which is available through the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section.
Jared D. Correia, is the senior law practice management advisor at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (Mass LOMAP). He can be reached on Twitter @jaredcorreia.
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