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An Old-School Approach to Social Networking

If you are an old-school lawyer who remains undecided about whether to belly up to social networking, then Evan Schaeffer may have just the networking recipe you've been waiting for. He was reluctant himself to try yet another network, he readily admits on his blog The Legal Underground, what with his Twitter habit already sapping his time. But after hearing rave reviews of one particular network from technologically clueless acquaintances of his and then trying it for three weeks, he is now an evangelist.

You may already have heard of this network. It is called TheBarAfterWork. Schaeffer describes how it operates:

TheBarAfterWork is not a blog or a microblog, but really more of a big room. The idea of a "big room" is not just a metaphor, since TheBarAfterWork really is a big room. For those who are more comfortable with metaphors, however, it is also possible to think of TheBarAfterWork as a "party in a meeting place" or a "recreation and socializing spot."

Whatever the metaphor, TheBarAfterWork is all about participation and interaction. Like many social networks, TheBarAfterWork comes with its own brand of language. When you want to contact someone directly, you "talk" or "whisper" to them while making "eye contact." When you decide to broadcast your message to many people at once, you "shout," which is a little like using ALL CAPITALS in a Twitter post but which is still generally okay, since TheBarAfterWork is all about interacting and making new connections.

Although there is no limit on the length of your sentences, you should generally try to maintain your followers' interest in what you are saying, since you will also be developing your personal and professional brand at TheBarAfterWork and no one likes a bore.

As with other social networks, participants in the TheBarAfterWork strive to expand their numbers of friends and followers. One way of doing this, Schaeffer suggests, is a technique known as "picking up the check." This is but one trick he picked up while researching TheBarAfterWork. He also spent a good deal of time interviewing other lawyers who participate in this network about how it benefits their practices. "TheBarAfterWork can be a tremendous resource for not only connecting with potential clients, but connecting with their influencers," one told him. "TheBarAfterWork has an astonishing value," said another. "Used well (and relatively soberly), it is a powerful tool for building reputation, leadership, trust and influence."

Schaeffer does not say what is on tap for the future development of TheBarAfterWork. But his not-so-sober assessment is sure to elicit a toast from old-school lawyers everywhere.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 19, 2009 at 11:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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