By Geri L. Dreiling
Regularly searching your name on the Internet might seem almost as vain as spending hours admiring yourself in the mirror—but lawyers who don’t tend to their virtual images do so at their peril.
Monitoring your online reputation isn’t just for lawyers, as the readers of O, The Oprah Magazine know. In her article “New Year, New Virtual You” in the January 2010 issue, Farah Miller dispels the myth that typing your name into Google is merely an act of vanity and urges readers to take control of their online profiles.
Searching your name on the Internet might unearth that long-forgotten op-ed piece you had published in the student newspaper, Miller writes— something you might rather have appear way down in the search results. She also recommends visiting peekyou.com or snitch.name to discover what online information about you exists. If it involves sensitive data, you can contact the Web site that contains the information or visit google.com/webmasters/tools/removals.
Social Media for Lawyers
In addition to revealing less-than-flattering much-too-revealing information, however, the Internet can be a great tool for promoting a positive virtual image.
Create a personal business profile on LinkedIn. The free business social networking site allows you to post information on your current and previous jobs and your education background. There’s plenty of room to summarize your experience and accomplishments. As I suggested in my recent article “Making the Most of Word-of-Mouth Referrals,” it is also a great place to highlight the recommendations of others, such as attorneys, experts or clients you’ve worked with previously.
Keep your profile on your law firm’s Web site up to date. A lawyer can accomplish a lot in three or four years. Have you updated your profile lately to include the lectures you’ve delivered at continuing legal education seminars, your published articles or your noteworthy cases? Has your practice area changed, and does your profile reflect this?
Submit your firm announcements—honors, awards, hirings, promotions and speaking engagements—to media outlets for publication. Many bar association newsletters, alumni magazines, business-oriented newspapers and legal trade publications are carried online and in print. In my efforts to monitor the online reputation of each Legal Media Matters attorney marketing client, I often pull up the positive information that we have submitted to a variety of publications in the form of firm announcement news releases.
Purchase a personal URL. The cost is nominal, but the peace of mind you’ll gain from knowing that no one else can create a site using your name is priceless. You don’t have to create a Web site for the URL; you’re simply keeping that URL out of circulation. In addition to protecting your online reputation, it can keep your future options open. Many attorneys have ambitions of starting their own firms, and reserving a URL is wise planning.
Ultimately attorney marketing isn’t just about crafting telephone books ads, radio spots or TV commercials. It’s about monitoring your image and ensuring that it is a fair, accurate representation of you. Even lawyers who don’t use traditional advertising methods have an interest in protecting their reputations.
Google yourself … and see what you find!
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