How Lawyers Can Use Twitter to Get Speaking Gigs

Unlike the old days of associates riding the gravy train of partners and their impressive book of clients, today’s lawyers have to find and develop their own client base. They have to become marketers.

Speaking is an effective effort to build your reputation as an expert, market yourself, and get new clients. This is not groundbreaking news.

Twitter provides the opportunity for visibility and for building relationships and establishing expertise that lead to speaking gigs.

Start at the beginning. Establish a presence

Start tweeting. Not sure what to tweet about?

Set up Google alerts. Let’s say you provide counsel for startups and small businesses. Set up an alert for areas that you focus on, like trademarks or Gen-Ys. You also do pro bono work for non-profits. Set up another alert.

Subscribe to RSS feeds from relevant blogs. The ABA has a comprehensive Blawg Directory. Their categories or topics may leave a lot to be desired but poke around and you’ll find some gems. Import the feeds to your Google reader.

Monitor your twitter stream and retweet your favorite posts.

Now it’s time to find relevant people to follow.  A good place to start is Justia’s excellent list of over 750 lawyers and legal professionals to follow on Twitter.

Another is simply an organic day-to-day discovery of people in your stream that you value and add along the way.

Build your reputation as an expert

So you’ve established a presence. You’ve tweeted and retweeted. Your follower count is starting to grow as others begin to discover and value your content and appreciate the retweets of theirs.

Now it’s time to focus your message and join the conversation. Or start your own. Weigh in on debates, but please, be respectful.

Post links to your blog posts, journal articles and Slide Share presentations.

Develop relationships with other lawyers, bar associations and CLE providers

Lawyers will generally recommend other lawyers whom they know, like and trust. So will organizations looking for speakers.

Strategically build your community. Bar associations and CLE providers are where you’ll find the bulk of available speaking gigs. Follow them. Look for trade associations in your practice area. Engage them.

I’ve created an MCLE Twitter list of over 150 continuing legal education organizations and professions. Click on “Follow this list” and that’s it! Mark Rosch has curated a terrific list of over 200 bar associations on Twitter.  Head over to Listorious for a directory of more targeted lists to follow.

Now what?

Take the relationship one step further. Contact lawyers, bar associations and CLE providers and send a direct message (DM) or email offering to speak. They know you and will be glad to hear from you. But first check their Twitter stream:

Search for opportunities

Twitter search sucks. There is no better way to describe it. Try Topsy, a marginally better search engine, and try a search like — looking speaker attorney, and you’ll get this:

Looking for attorney experienced in Sweepstakes/copyright/Trademark for possible speaker at Social Media Conf….any takers?

Search for — looking speaker legal, and you’ll get this:

looking for a high end speaker who can discuss the legal implications of social media….any suggestions?

You get the idea. Play around with the search terms, then create an email alert or subscribe to an RSS feed and you’ll get a notification every time a relevant tweet pops up.

Build it and they will come

Organizations, lawyers and CLE professionals will now seek you out for speaking engagements. I’ve seen it unfold many times, heard success stories, and even facilitated the process. I’ve recommended speakers to other lawyers and organizations based on meeting and getting to know them on Twitter.

Twitter was designed as a broadcast medium but it has evolved into a networking and relationship building tool. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Chug along at your own pace, invest the time, engage and build relationships. Be strategic and proactive and snag those choice speaking engagements.

Any lawyers or organizations have success stories to share?

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/topgold/3860849660)