Social Networks vs. Old School Networking

I’ve spent the past three days at the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting in Fort Worth.  I have so much to reflect upon and update the rest of the Firm about, but this afternoon provided the biggest take-away.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in the Legal Innovation track. I attended presentations like, “Your Online Presence: Getting it Right, Ethically, With Twitter and Other Social Media” and “Social Media Ethics and Etiquette for Lawyers,” and “Information Technology for the New Attention Span.” Speaker after speaker talked about Facebook and Twitter and blogs and RSS feeds. All seemed to suggest that if you’re not doing all of these things, you’re going to have a tough time surviving in the new social media marketing economy. All the speakers were young. They had great new computers and iPhones and iPads and amazing powerpoint presentations. I left the presentations feeling overwhelmed and inadequate – and wondering how I’m ever going to manage doing all of that while practicing law and taking care of my clients.

Today, I spent the afternoon in a workshop entitled, “Ten Steps to Professional Success.” The average age of the audience was in their mid to late fifties. The speaker was in his 70s.

There was little talk of tweets or blogs or LinkedIn accounts.

A question from the audience asked about social networking. He told everybody in the room to stand up. Look at somebody in the eyes that you don’t know. Shake hands. Exchange business cards. Do it again to another person across the room. Go back to your seat and write down today’s date and the name of the seminar on the back of the card. When you get back to your office, write the person a quick note letting them know that you’re going to put them in your rolodex if you ever have a question about their specialty and would appreciate reciprocity if the need arises.

That’s a social network.

Next question?

(image via flickr)

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