Social media breeds familiarity which breaks down barriers.

This material was written for attorneys but I suspect the principals have broader application.

This material was written for attorneys but I suspect the principals have broader application.

Unfortunate as it may be, one frequent criticism made of attorneys is they are “unapproachable” “intimidating” or “aloof.”  Some of this perception may derive from attitudes bred by the legal profession.  However, I believe a lot of the perception comes simply from the position: being an attorney, wearing a suit, working in an office, knowing law and being able file lawsuits.  Regardless of why it exists, being perceived as intimidating or unapproachable is not usually good for business.   Social media offers the opportunity to shatter this perception, starting by simply accessing the Web.

Nearly all social networking sites allow the user to share personal information about family, hobbies, likes and dislikes and everyday experiences and challenges.  The user can ask questions of other users, answer questions asked by other users and generally have a conversation.  While familiarity may sometimes breed contempt, in these circumstances it often breaks down barriers.

An attorney can share information about herself, her family, talk with other site users, share pictures and establish relationships of trust.  Without ever mentioning in conversation that she is an attorney, the attorney becomes someone other users would call on if there is a legal need.  Why?  Because the other users are comfortable with the attorney, they see her as a “real person”, someone who can carry on a conversation and someone who is generally part of the conversation.  Faced with the choice of thousands of attorneys, the consumer will often pick the attorney that is familiar over all the others that look the same.

This process is no different from what happens at a Chamber of Commerce networking event or through service on the board of a charitable organization.  The only distinction is that the process is occurring online rather that in person.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."


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