Four years ago today, I wrote my first post here at Zen & The Art of Legal Networking.
Before I launched Zen, I really didn't think I'd have much to say - I'm sure those of you who read this blog regularly are chuckling, since you know I'm definitely one of the more wordy legal bloggers out there. But after joining Twitter in April 2008 and connecting with people in the legal community, I was often inspired by them and realized I had more to contribute to the conversation than 140 characters would permit. So Zen was born.
What have I learned over the last four years?
- Blogging and social media can lead to some of the most interesting professional (and personal!) conversations, and connect you to people you'd never imagine meeting.
- If you can't write a short post (ahem), break it up visually with headers, lists, images, and other formatting options.
- Don't just hope people will find your content - share it!
- Keep your titles short, or they'll eat up too many characters when people try to share them socially - so they'll just give up.
- Use a photo for visual impact - it makes people more likely to read your post, and nowadays, it allows people to pin it on Pinterest. (But when using a photo, make sure to use a paid site like istockphoto so you won't have any copyright issues)
- Some of your best content will come from things you're already getting paid to do - repurpose your notes from conference and webinar sessions, presentations you're giving and conversations you've had, to share with your audience.
- Never stop learning - this is a life lesson for me, but it's applicable for blogging too. There's always something to learn from those in your profession, and those outside of it for that matter. Don't stop growing.
- Stats don't matter - you don't want to connect with the MOST people...you want to connect with the RIGHT people. (Though I only check my stats about once a year, I did take a peek this morning, and I am tickled to see that I have over 27.5 thousand for this year!)
- Social networking is awesome...but you've got to take those relationships offline. Meet local connections for coffee or lunch. When traveling, reach out to people in those cities that you know online. Use social media to connect in person with people at the conferences you're attending. You've still got to do the face to face - and speaking as a shy introvert, I promise you that social media makes that much easier, so don't be afraid to do it.
Social media, and Zen in particular, have introduced me to some of the most brilliant, wonderful people in my industry (and beyond) and have given me some truly incredible professional and personal opportunities. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way - I appreciate it more than you know.
I'll leave you with a fun fact - in looking for something else in my files yesterday, I came across the list of possible blog names I was working on before I settled on Zen. The list had me chuckling, but my favorite runner up was "I Love Lawyers More than Brussels Sprouts." How's that for a blog name?