Why should lawyers take precious time to learn computer-driven or web-based tools, to make on-line connections, to participate in on-line communication? Professionals averse to the experience cite their impressions that engaging with the hardware feels like a child’s interaction with a new toy, while engaging with on-line communities feels like time wasted at the water cooler.
I am not suggesting a direct and measurable connection between putting effort into your on-line presence and putting money in your wallet. Traditional networking and advertising can’t promise such direct results either. I do suggest that there is real value in spending time building your web presence, reaching out to your connections via social sites, and making new connections. At worst, you might learn something new. At best, you might actually profit in a measurable way; profit being a term far broader than financial compensation in my usage.
Take, for example, my recent project – updating my Twitter background. Twitter is a regular haunt of mine and there are lots of great ways to spiff up that web outpost. I previously used a tool called Free Twitter Designer (link here). This is a great app for someone who wants to upgrade from the stock Twitter background and include some customized, personal information on their page.
But, as someone who occasionally dabbles in computer illustration and graphic design, I felt somewhat limited by this tool and decided to create my own background in my vector program. I played around with it on Sunday and loaded it up on Monday. Along with a new Twitter profile picture that matches my new Facebook profile photo.
I always ask for feedback from my online friends and was not disappointed. One such friend, @Legaltypist, complimented me on my new Twitter photo. I pointed out that I had also updated my background. She replied that my new background was not showing properly on her screen resolution and that she was having a hard time reading the font I had chosen. I was grateful for the feedback, and made changes in the background later that day.
While I was doing so, I was monitoring my Twitter stream for good information. Sure enough, another Twitter friend, @uMCLE, posted a link to a blog post on how to customize your Twitter background. The post, entitled 4 Major Tips to Personalize Your Twitter Background (link here), was written by @wchingya and was quite informative. The great information I found in the article included a link to a website called Twitter Background Checker (link here). This web app allows designers to try out draft backgrounds across the most popular screen resolutions! How timely!
While I ultimately was unable to make the background work flawlessly with the smallest screen width (sorry @Legaltypist), I ultimately was able to make design changes that optimized the background for most resolutions.
Along the way, I learned about an excellent blogger on topics of interest to me. So I followed @wchingya on Twitter.
This morning, I found both a Twitter follow notice and a Facebook friend request from @wchingya. I immediately accepted the friend request and we communicated. She complimented me on my Twitter background, while I complimented her on her excellent article. She told me that she got my Facebook profile from my new background (obviously an effective vehicle for communicating contact information) and we both agreed that we were looking forward to our connection and learning more about each other.
Is this money in my pocket? Well, no, not exactly. But if you value feedback, topical information, and new connections, the simple act of updating my Twitter background was a rich experience indeed. Sometimes, the win results from paying attention to the details