Entering the 21st Century – Nashua Telegraph, January 19, 2011

Some of you may recall that early last year I wrote a column in which I complained vehemently about Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweeter and all the emerging social media that were beginning to crop up in my life. In that column, which was published in February, I wrote, “Facebook bothers me. In Facebook, and its obnoxious grown-up cousins Linked In and Plaxo, we have the next phase of techno-torture for lawyers.” Well, at least I took a stand.

But now it is January of 2011. In the interests of journalistic integrity, (and in my own self-interest in wanting to making a public announcement,) I have a confession to make: I have embraced social media as a means of marketing myself and my business. I am now blogging regularly at my new website, www.scottflegal.com, and I’m making use of Facebook, at least at a minimal level. I am on LinkedIn. Alas, I am even tweeting on Twitter. I am one with the universe, at least in terms of connectedness.

Hate on me if you must, but also hear me out. This transformation did not occur in a vacuum. This was an epiphany, brought about by two conversations, each of which rocked my world. But taken together, they became an undeniable force driving me toward the social media frontier.

The first happened shortly after my social media-bashing column appeared last year. I ran into Lyle, one of my regular golf playing partners, who happens to be in his late twenties. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye and congratulated me on writing such a clever column.  Then he said the following: “Apparently you’re not interested in representing anyone born after 1985, because my generation figures there must be something wrong with you if you if you don’t have an online social media presence.”  I have to admit, Lyle’s comments got my attention.

Shortly after that conversation, I ran into George, a colleague of mine who is in his sixties, at a seminar. We were discussing some of the pitfalls associated with running a small law practice when he hit me with this little stunner: “If you think it’s hard for you to maintain your client relationships now, just wait until you get to be my age and your clients start dying.”  Gulp.

I started to do the math. Lyle says I won’t be representing anyone born after 1985 if I don’t embrace social media. George says when I hit sixty, my existing clients are going to start dying.  You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to appreciate the grim reality of that equation. I had no alternative. I had to take steps to insure I remained relevant to the younger generation of entrepreneurs.

So I started to look into social media. I read Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, “Crush It”, which served as a nice little primer on how I could use social media to develop my personal “brand” and hopefully build my business. Then, a couple of months back the Harvard Business Review, of all things, featured social media marketing on the cover and throughout the issue. I figured if the dudes at Harvard were saying this was something I needed to do, maybe Lyle was right.

I hired another friend of mine – also in his twenties – to help me get started. I had one of my son’s talented young friends design a web site for me that fit what I wanted to do. My son helped me get to work on Word Press, which is essentially the software through which I can post Blogs and control the content on the new site. He is now my social media consultant.  I’m just getting started, but I think I can pull this off.

The theory is that I can Blog regularly on all sorts of topics, and use Twitter and Facebook to tell interested people when I do so. I can control the entire operation by myself, at a minimal cost. People may visit the Blog, and some may want to hire me. The site is a lot more creative and loosey-goosey than my law practice, and should allow me the freedom to write about all sorts of stuff. Most certainly my posts will not all be law practice related. But they will say something about me and my approach to all sorts of issues and ideas. In other words, it should help me continue to develop and market my personal “brand”.

Just what is my brand? I think it’s an approach to practicing law based on problem-solving and working closely with clients to help them make good business decisions. It’s about negotiation expertise and a belief in mediation.  The new site and Blog is going to provide me with the opportunity to do a lot more communicating on those and other fronts.

So if nothing else I have come clean with readers of this column and disclosed my change of heart. I have managed to find a not-so-subtle way to publicize the new site. There is a shocker!  Hopefully, my new social media presence will gain me some new clients and increase my credibility with young people. I certainly hope so. I have nine years to make it work before my clients start dropping like flies!