Just a few months ago, I wrote a blog entry titled, Social networking, yea or nay?, in which I reviewed an issue of Law Practice Management that featured several article advocating the use of social networking. Since then, I’ve networked on LinkedIn and I even set up a Facebook profile, though I drew the line at Twitter — microblogging is not for me. Meanwhile, I’m getting pelted with Plaxo requests and trying to figure out how social networking can work for me. My next step was to listen to a few teleseminars, on how to use Facebook and LinkedIn, and I was aghast at the amount of time people were spending. An hour or two a day??? Is it just me, or does that sound insane to anyone else?
So I was mightily curious when I saw a recent article by Larry Bodine titled, Is the Party Over for Social Networking? Larry starts out like this:
What if you gave a party, hundreds of people showed up, but almost nobody talked to each other? That describes the state of social networking for lawyers on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and the new Plaxo Pulse. The masses get the idea, but only the evangelists are using it.
Ah, so it isn’t just me. Citing research by the ABA about the online networking habits of young lawyers, Bodine concludes that few lawyers (only 8% of the young lawyer respondents, who might be presumed to be early adopters of such technology) find social networking important. LinkedIn seems to be the professional tool of choice for lawyers (at least, “old” lawyers, which I fear means those over 30 or so), and Facebook seems to be preferred for personal use and by younger lawyers.
But here’s my question: other than using these tools to update contact information, employers, and the like, what are lawyers doing with social networking? As a teen and college student, and even into law school, I used to play online and met some dear friends that way, through forerunners of IM technology, so I’m certainly not opposed to it — and I’d certainly prefer to network online while sipping good coffee than to schlep to another breakfast networking event (usually, it seems, in the rain) in hopes of making a connection. I just don’t get how it works.
And so, I’m going to try an experiment. I have one more week of very heavy travel, and then I’ll have a bit of a pause, when I’ll be in my office with computer handy for most days of May. So, I’m going to give social networking a shot for the month of May and see what happens.
As I prepare, I invite your comments. Do you use social networking sites? Do you find them fun and/or professionally useful? What’s your favorite site? How much time do you spend on social networking? I’ll keep you posted on what I learn!
(And, an aside about the blog: one of the kinks yet to be worked out is image-posting. They will return!)