By Steven G. MehtaSteve Mehta

I have been tweeting in the world of twitter and wanted to comment on my findings and thoughts regarding Twitter.  First I must confess that when I first thought of Twitter, I said something to the effect, “why do I want to know what Joe is having for lunch today?” But I am glad to report that I did not persist in this previous state of mind and am glad that I ventured into the world of twitter.  Several mediation bloggers have commented on their experiences in the world of twitter including Tammy Lenski in her post Twitter 101 for Mediators or Diane Levin in her article Negotiating Twitter: A mediator test drives the hot social media craze.

In addition, there are some good resources for lawyers and for Twediators (My new word for mediators that twitter) who want to learn about twitter.  For example, Tweet 16: 16 ways lawyers can use Twitter by Robert Ambrogi or Tools and Tactics to Tweet Well on Twitter, or a great post by a P.R. firm that shows the nuts and bolts of twitter called Twittering For Lawyers.

But despite seeing these resources, I am constantly barraged by people outside of  twitter as to why I “waste my time” on twitter.  Well here are some of the top reasons, that I as a lawyer and mediator, twitter.

1. Connect With Others In Your Field Internationally

I am a Los Angeles Mediator that has a practice in California and sometimes in other states.  However, I never in my wildest dreams thought it possible absent going to an international conference that I would get to meet mediators and attorneys from the Netherlands, other states in America, New Zealand, England, and other wonderful countries; and especially not without buying a plane ticket to somewhere.  Well, I have met many wonderful legal and conflict resolution professionals throughout the world.  These professionals provide me with information and more importantly, a different worldview than I might have had if I was simply in California.

2. Expand Your Brand

Everyone secretly aspires to be as big a brand as Coke or Pepsi.  They asprire to have their name as a household word.  You might be saying that you are not a brand and that you are simply a person.  Well people are brands.  Tony Robbins, Al Gore, Donald Trump are all people; but they have been able to build an international brand.  When people hear their names, certain images come to mind.  Just as when you think of Pepsi, a certain image comes to mind.

The question you have to ask yourself with branding is how would you like people to see you.  When you interact on twitter, you are expanding your brand to other geographic areas, professions, businesses, and groups.  More people are seeing you and will have heard of you.  That is helpful in this international economy.

3. Connect With People In Your Locale

Twitter allows you to search for people that are in a certain area or have tweeted about a certain topic.  For example,  I did a search on twitter for the city of Santa Clarita and found out that people were looking for jobs in Santa Clarita, and that there is a business opportunity for a coffee franchise.  You can then seek to follow each of those persons who mentioned Santa Clarita (under the assumption that people who talk about Santa Clarita are probably familiar with or close to the city).

4. Find Out What Is Being Said About You

One of the beauties of Twitter is that you can do a search of what every single person on twitter has said and you can find out what is being said about you.  For example, I was discussing with one person that a positive comment had been made about that person.  It is nice to know when good things are said about you, and it is even better to know (first or as soon as possible) when bad things are said about you so that you can work on damage control.

5. Find Out What Is Being Said About Your Competitors

Sometimes knowing what is being said about your competitors is extremely helpful.  For example, what if your competitor has reduced its rates, would that affect you?  What about if someone comments about some aspect of customer service from your competitor?  Rather than waiting for the information to trickle down to you.  You can find out about the information instantly.

6. Keep Up On News Relevant To Your Topic

What is the latest and greatest in your field?  As a mediator, I recently learned of conferences on mediation that might be useful to my practice.  I have also learned about the trends regarding mediation.  Moreover, I have learned about studies relating to mediation:  All from twitter.

7. Post Your Blog On Twitter

If you have a blog and are hoping to get the word out to a greater audience regarding your blog, twitter can help.  You can tweet about your latest and greatest blog post.  Depending on how relevant the blog entry is, it could get tweeted, and retweeted 1000s of times.  That’s great exposure.

8. Discover New Blogs And Research On Your Topic

Just as you can post your blog on twitter, many other bloggers post their writing on twitter.  As a result, it can be a great way for you to keep up with bloggers who  interest you.  Everytime an interesting person blogs something, you can see it on your feed.  This will allow you to keep up with relevant information directly regarding your field.  For example, I have recently blogged on settlement issues related to Medicare, if that is a topic of interest to your practice, that article was posted on twitter within hours of being published.

9. Continuously Keep Your Name On The Tips Of People’s Tongues

One of the problems that people face when marketing mediation and legal services is that people don’t have a constant need for these services.  When the need arises, then people will look for these services.  When that need arises, though, you want to be one of the first people that someone thinks about for your services.  It is a known fact that even if you are excellent at your job, people will naturally forget about you unless they are reminded about you in some way shape or form.  Ask yourself the question, who is the first mediator that you think of?  What about for a patent lawyer?  Then ask yourself why?  Chances are that you thought of that person because you had heard or seen that person’s name somewhere, or something you saw reminded you of that person.

Twitter helps to keep your name out there.  Every time you tweet, your name gets on the top of the public timeline created by twitter.  The same is true for all the people that are following you.  When you make a tweet, at that moment it goes to the top of the list of the people that follow you.  For that moment or moments, you are at the top of the list.  How long you stay at the top of the list is up to you, the value of your comment, and the relationship you have with that person.

10. Have A New Outlet To Post Your Information

Twitter allows you to personalize your homepage.  This provides you with another opportunity to have information that you want seen out there about yourself.  Moreover, every time you give information about yourself or your activities, you are increasing the chances that someone else will connect with you because of that fact.  For example, I went to McGeorge School of Law.  If I tweeted something about my connection to McGeorge, that might peek the interest of some other McGeorge graduate.

11. Get Quick Information On A Topic From Your Sources

As Diane Levin and Tammy Lenski have pointed out above, Twitter allows you to pose a quick question and get responses back from someone who is following you.  Whether that question relates to your profession or not, you are sure to get some answers to your question quickly.

Hopefully, this will give you some more ideas about using twitter.  However, if this hasn’t convinced you yet, then I will publish Part two of this article with another 11 more ways for the legal and Mediation professional to use twitter.