The Usefulness of Twitter

Twitter. Twitter. Twitter.

There seem to be two camps when it comes to Twitter: the “total waste of time” camp and the “can’t live without it” camp. The “total waste of time” can’t understand the “can’t live without” and vise versa. Hearing each side argue their respective view points is entertaining, and sometimes infuriating.

To help weave through the middle, Adrian Dayton, a lawyer and well-respected Twitter users, has written a book called Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition. I had the pleasured of editing the book and thought I am avid Twitter user myself (and not a lawyer), I found the book rather helpful. He does a good job of explaining Twitter, and then provides a step-by-step guide to establishing a Twitter presence and reaping its benefits. Twitter does not have to be the “time waster” many think, but it doesn’t have to be the “life blood” of business, either. Rather, it is another tool to add to an arsenal of communication and client development tools.

This concept of Twitter as a client development tool was floating around in my brain at the OfficePort Chicago event, and Twitter came up in a few conversations. I learned about OfficePort first through a Chicago Tribune article my mother gave me, and then through Twitter.

I’ve discovered that Twitter is best explained in one of two ways (or both):

  1. Demonstration
  2. Examples

Since I did not have a computer with me at the OfficePort event, I offered some examples that demonstrate the usefulness of Twitter: my first two clients. One of them was Adrian, whom I met through Twitter, and then in person, at the “Get-A-Life” conference. He needed an editor for his book (and also someone to look over blog posts now and then). The second client is the Managing Partner Forum, run by John Remsen of the Remsen Group. I was introduced to John by Allison Shields, whom I know through Twitter and later met in person first at ABATech, and then at the “Get-A-Life” Conference. John needed help moving content from the old Managing Partner website to the new one. I was working on a similar content migration project at the time, so we connected after the conference and I helped him move content.

Twitter has also been the method for open source educational opportunities. Dennis Kennedy, whom I met at ABA TechShow, needed help writing an article, an open source primer for lawyers. Kevin Thompson, a Chicago-area lawyer, also contacted me through Twitter about presenting a primer on open source applications to the Chicago Bar Association Law Practice Management and Technology committee/group.

And let’s not forget about Lawyer Connection, which started from a Twitter thread about laid off lawyers needing a free place online to gather and support each other. It’s quite satisfying to see the network grow and diversify, and has changed my viewpoint that in order to be a good philanthropist, you first need a lot of money.

The other thing I will say about Twitter is that I get answers to questions must faster than from Facebook or LinkedIn. People either respond directly, or provide links to information sources that answer my question. And the diversity of people who tweet means that I always learn something new, and sometimes find commonalities between areas I had considered to, well, have nothing in common.

Suffice to say, Twitter has more to offer than meets the eye. If you’re still skeptical, try it and see for yourself. It costs nothing to create an account, and you just might find it rewarding in some fashion.

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