Social media is about engagement (and some zealots)
March 3, 2011
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I’m proud to present another guest post from technology and media lawyer @BrettTechLawyer
At one point the conversation reached fervour usually seen in an evangelical tent revival meeting. @LegalBrat, @kilroyt, @BugsieGiven, the effervescent @IPTechShark and me (apologies from @Lord_Credo who was I’m sure reading the riot act to an MP in a Malcom Tucker-esque manner) were exuberantly extolling the virtues of Twitter to another at our table who was sceptical of it. “We have all been there” said @kilroyt who is one of the most consistent and interesting legal bloggers and tweeters.
We were however not at a Twitter tent revival meeting but instead at The Intellectual Property Lawyers’ Organisation dinner at which Jeremy Phillips, best known for his IPKAT intellectual property blog site spoke and attempted to share some of the successes he has seen through these social media. It was such a shame that the two very interesting examples were rushed through right at the end of a speech which focused mainly on the history of the IPKAT blog. Given the audience perhaps focussing on the successes and the ways in which social media has enriched Mr Phillips’ life would have been more relevant.
Mr Phillips’ examples of social media centred on the ways in which he utilised, mainly Twitter, to crowd source facilities for events was running as part of the IPKAT blog. One example was that he tweeted that he required a venue and some catering to hold a function. Almost immediately had the services of a major London law firm offering their conference rooms and catering facilities free of charge. @legalbrat recently used a similar method when attempting to fill a short term secondment role at the company for which he is a general counsel and you can read all about that by clicking this link.
What @legalbrat and Jeremy Phillips have both experienced is the great levelling effect of social media. Social media has created nothing more than a new way for humans to engage with one another; humanity hasn’t changed, the communication toolset has expanded. The first time I met @kilroyt at his offices he honestly and openly mused about the fact that we were even meeting face to face in the first place. He said “if you had emailed me to ask for this meeting I probably would not have taken it, yet because of Twitter here we are”. That statement and that experience epitomises this levelling aspect. The fact that we attended a dinner together with some other friends from Twitter demonstrates the engagement aspect.
It took one step further last night. Social media helped break down the barriers between traditional law firm competitors. I met for the first time last night @ShireenSmith who is quite possibly my competition. She was lovely, charming and we got along. Social media has engendered a healthy but fledgling collegiate environment which is fairly self-evident to any of the legal community engaging with each other on Twitter.
This brings me back to our being-preached-at-table-mate. He is not on Twitter but I shall call him @musicpublawyer for illustrative purposes. He was with us last night because I had been previously personally introduced (the old fashioned way). I suspect now he may join Twitter, even out of a sense of curiosity to see what it is we all spoke so passionately about during dinner last night. My guess is because of the levelling aspect he will engage and perhaps even make some new friends or professional relationships because of it.
The only notable exception to last night was my kind blog master @LegalBizzle. Rumour has it that he was in London yesterday and was invited to this dinner. Sadly he didn’t attend. That absence stirred the second most discussed topic of the evening: Just who is @LegalBizzle?