Walk on the Wild Side

How do you get a conservative Baby Boomer manager or a conservative law firm to take a walk on the wild side? That’s the challenge for law firm knowledge managers looking for ways to introduce social media tools into their array of knowledge management offerings.

The first question most conservatives will ask is: what are our peer firms doing? You’d better know the answer to that. The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) and blogs like KM Space and Strategic Legal Technology can help answer that question for law firms.

But even if you can benchmark your firm against others, it’s hard to sell technology that you haven’t used. In fact, Luis Suarez suggests that the best way to sell social media tools is to use them, master them, and then demonstrate (with passion) how well they work. In his post, Twelve Ways to Sell Social Media to Your Boss – Don’t Forget About Yourself, he cites the Twelve Ways suggested by Chris Brogan, but then goes on to say:

In short, in order to sell Social Media to our boss, we need to ensure we are passionate enough to demonstrate actively, and time and time again, the kind of impact that social software is having not only within our daily job(s), but also within our own personal lives. Because there is a great chance that passion you are willing to share with your boss is what will make it all contagious and get your management line sold out as soon as they see that excitement, that commitment, that involvement, that willingness to make a difference within your company and show everyone else it is possible. And you know why?

Well, more than anything else because you are the first one who is clearly benefiting from it all. You are the one, who, as a result, are much more productive, much more knowledgeable about your daily job, have an extensive social network of various dozens, perhaps, of subject matter experts as part of your social networks and, above all, are willing to spend some time showing everyone else why they would need to start paying attention to it, if they haven’t done so already, and engage actively from there onwards. *That*, to me, is how I would sell Social Computing to my boss!

This doesn’t mean you have to race out there and start blogging today, but it would be wise for you to take the time to try these tools out and educate yourself as to what types of material improvements might be gained within your firm by employing these new tools. Given your knowledge of your firm’s history, organizational culture and technology, you are well-placed to identify these potential benefits. Don’t abdicate your role to a consultant.

One key advantage of social media tools is that they present very low barriers to entry. So we really have no excuse for refusing to take them out for a test drive. After all, if the knowledge managers won’t do it, how can we expect the lawyers within our firms to adopt these tools?

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