I have a pretty substantial LinkedIn account. My public profile can be found here. A couple weeks ago, I had a case where the defendant we were researching had a Facebook account. I’ve never really dealt with Facebook before, having viewed it as a purely personal social endeavor. To my surprise, I had requests to be “friends” with a large number of unanticipated people within days of registering. Many of these people are also part of my LinkedIn network. I’m looking forward to seeing how the two different platforms generate the possibility of new clients and new matters for old clients. Because so many of the people within my friend network of Facebook use it so much more aggressively, the members of my friend network are much more likely to be “tickled” by an email or Facebook post. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more going on in our personal lives than our professional lives.
At the end of the day, it is my bet that Facebook will end up being the more powerful professional tool, even though contains so much nonprofessional banter. The concept of being “connected” is as powerful as it is literal. The more active an online social community, the more “in your face” that community becomes. Further, the little family quips and updates about kids are far more powerful social ties than the fact that I have just filed a new trademark litigation case in California, as indicated on my LinkedIn profile.
The reality is that many of the standardized etiquette rules for professionals such as wearing suits, talking primarily business, and friendly banter are being broken down by the internet. Information concerning virtually everyone with a significant online presence can be found with the simple Google search. That information more often than not includes both professional and nonprofessional information. Just as reality TV is supported by the fact that so many people are willing to put themselves out there and potentially throw themselves under the bus, the online world continues to blur the lines between acceptable and unacceptable, between professional and personal.
And don’t be afraid to make a “friend” request on my Facebook account or professional networking request on my LinkedIn account! I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks and let you know which one has resulted in more business.