Say Baby, What's Your Social Networking Sign?

By , October 27, 2009 10:54 am

by Brenna Louzin

Reviewing the current array of social networking tools for professionals is kind of like attending “mixers”. You act cool and grip a cocktail while trying to meet new people, remember the names of former colleagues, hoping all the while that you will connect with just the “right ones”.

Each social networking service touts its unique profile, promises that membership makes one “findable”, increases chances of improved business contacts, promotes expertise, and offers more ways to communicate via private networks. During this past recessionary year, our attorneys and organizations have all been under tremendous pressure to market and bring in new clients while doing their utmost to maintain the ones they already have. However, are these social networking tools useful or just more noise and distraction?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular players in social networking:

LinkedIn – In my mind, LinkedIn is a blue-ribbon social networking tool. It offers users the opportunity to create very detailed and professional profiles covering education, expertise, publications, statistics, recommendations / testimonials, as well as the opportunity to post jobs, create discussion groups, and develop collaborative workspaces. Like many other social networking sites, it offers free and for-a-fee email services and contact management linkage. The costs for premium business memberships range from $24.95 to $499.95 per month.

Jigsaw – Jigsaw is a social networking tool on a mission to make company information free and transparent. They state that their focus is on the “b2b data community”: venture capitalists and anyone who needs hard-to-find business information. Of course, if you really need to dig deep for phone numbers and full business profiles, you are urged to pay for memberships ranging from $25 to $1000.

Spoke is another social business tool aiming to build the largest, most detailed Web 2.0 contact management database. It purports to offer information on over “55 million people across more than 2.3 million companies.” In my opinion, Spoke would appeal more to marketing or business development professionals than to attorneys.

LegalOnRamp – Partnering with and LexisNexis, bills itself as a “collaboration system for in-house counsel and invited outside law firms.” It is a space for blogging and for researching legal employment opportunities and industry trends. You might liken this networking site to an attorney dating service as admission is by invitation only. A recent Corporate Counsel article describes how some companies, like FMC Technologies in Houston have submitted RFPs via the Legal OnRamp site. It will be interesting to see how law firms adopt and adapt to this new business model.

Much has been written about using and searching Facebook and Twitter for both private and professional purposes. Many law firm, academic, public, and government libraries have pages on Facebook and use Twitter to post ideas or even to offer just-in-time reference services to their constituents. Take a look at a recent Law360 article comparing LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

We would love to hear your comments and experiences with social networking tools.

5 Responses to “Say Baby, What's Your Social Networking Sign?”

  1. Robyn H says:

    A few years ago, I realized most of the college aged kids I knew had stopped using email because they did all of their communicating via Facebook, Twitter, or text. Now, the only email I receive at my personal account is from friends and family who are NOT on Facebook. Even my Mom sends me Facebook messages instead of emails.

    It used to be that if I wanted to find out if my favorite clothing retailer was having a sale, I would visit their webpage. Now, I become their fan on Facebook and receive status updates in my news feed that alert me to sales, coupons, in-store events, etc.

    I cancelled my subscription to Pollstar because all of my favorite bands have Facebook pages where they post upcoming concerts and media appearances. If my firm was on Facebook, I would be more likely to read the news that is currently being posted to their external webpage because it would show up in my news feed on Facebook.

    In this world of one-stop shopping, Facebook allows me to keep abreast of the things that are important to me, business or personal, with minimal effort.

  2. Kristine says:

    I am really curious about this Legal OnRamp site–there was a recent post on Adam Smith about it:

    Do we think law firms will get with the times and go for online RFPs?

  3. Rita K says:

    Good coverage, Brenna! The social sites are very important, both for networking and finding out what’s going on today. My Public Sleuthing on Social Networks classes were very popular! Wish I was still there to teach them.

  4. Kate S says:

    Great post Brenna, this is very helpful information. I use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for pleasure. Recently I noticed LinkedIn added an Amazon book application similar to Facebook’s Visual Bookshelf. For now I will try putting my business and legal related reads on LinkedIn and everything else on Facebook. For now I’ve drawn a line between business/professional and personal/fun content, but it is very enticing to have one place and one news feed for all the content and simply to use tags and groupings within that spot to sort business from pleasure. 🙂

  5. […] may recallmention of an interesting RFP, conducted via Legal OnRamp, in Brenna’s  October review of social networking sites.  Turns out that law firms were asked to Tweet about why they felt they […]

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