Listening Tools

Good afternoon from Seattle. We’re continuing our 45 chapter long legal blogging series. We took a couple of days off and we’re back on again. Today we’re covering listening tools, which is something that lawyers don’t always think about. Why are we talking about listening

tools? That’s our first talking point: Why listening tools? It goes to the point that good blogging is more about listening than it is about writing. Blogging is engaging. It’s thinking about the conversation that already exists out there and how you enter into the conversation. It’s not a broadcast medium. The Internet was never started as a broadcast medium. It was started as a communications medium, which basically means that somebody’s got to listen before somebody can communicate. Now we’ve gotten to the point where a lot of craziness has become “Let’s just push content out and people hope something sticks to their forehead” or “maybe it will cause us to appear higher in the search engines.” That’s really not the truest form of blogging. Listening means, “Okay, I’m going to listen to what the conversation is out there; I’m going to listen to what is being talked about in my area of expertise. I want to listen to the people that are sharing this insight and commentary because as they begin to recognize what I’m saying and begin to share what I’m saying. My influence is going to grow.” It’s just like walking into a group of metro leaders, state leaders, national leaders or worldwide leaders on a particular subject. You aren’t going to grow until you get in, and you can’t grow your influence until you get into that room and you aren’t going to grow your influence until you listen to what the other people say. You don’t grow it by going into a bowl with a bullhorn. People will remember you but for all the wrong reasons. So in blogging what you’re doing is referencing what you’ve heard, and you’re sharing your take on it. It could be anything. Now, the winning way that bloggers have always used (it’s changed a bit over time, but traditionally) is a news aggregator. News aggregators allowed me to have a funnel, to get information from sources. Sources would be another blog, a news publication, those types of things. So imagine the information coming into a news aggregator, and in its simplest form, is showing up in my iPad. It’s in folders; I may have a folder marked “legal technology”. I may have a folder marked “law”, I may have a folder marked “publishing” or “journalism” and the things that are going into those folders are from sources that relate to that subject. So if I want to see what’s going on on that subject, all I’ve got to do is skim through it. Going through a news aggregator doesn’t take a lot of time. A lot of people say “well gee I’m too busy for that.” Well, those are the people that have a lot of time, that are getting their news the old fashioned way.

The other thing that you listen to on a news aggregator are subjects. Soyou have sources, which are like a newspaper or a blog, those types of things. Subjects become more powerful because I can listen to the word “legal technology”. And I might find out that a certain company got funded in Israel. Why do I care about that? Well, first of all, it’s of interest, but if I share word of that on Twitter, they’re going to see that. That opens up doors for me to contact them.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a leading law firm in Madrid about things that LexBlog is working on that their firm may want to take advantage of. That only happened because I listened, I was able to go knocking on their door. I listened through a news aggregator, and I shared items on Twitter because I saw what they were doing in the area of innovation and technology. Some companies have fleets of salespeople and fleets of business development people that they can fly around the world to knock on doors. I don’t have that. I’ve got to do it the old fashioned way; I’ve got to engage people on subjects that we have a common interest in and get to know each other in a real way.

So, that’s a listening tool that I could take, let’s say, a subject, see an article, reference it, and then provide my take in the blog. So maybe it’s a lawyer that is writing on a particular issue that’s of relevance to my topic on my blog, then I’m referencing her, sharing her work, citing her, and then providing my take, and by virtue of that she knows me.

So that’s the importance of that listening component. We’ll get into how to use all these in detail.

Twitter’s the same way. I would say it’s probably five or six years ago, maybe more, people started telling me.” Hey, you realize you can just use Twitter, and it can be better than a news aggregator because all you have to do is set up alerts for particular key people to hear them say you’re seeing the right stuff that you want to hear.” Twitter lists are wonderful. You can set up a Twitter list and just scroll through an associated press on a subject that you want to be listening to because those people are sharing what they’re seeing on that subject. You’re getting a really tight funnel. And in that, only a fool couldn’t find things to blog about.

So they’re scrolling through all of these leaders on a particular issue. They’re seeing things that they’re referencing; they go look at that. And that’s a good blog post. “So and so had an  interesting piece on such and such; here’s my take on it.” You’re making certain that they’re aware of it. You use Twitter as your listening tool.

You can use other forms of social media. I find a lot of interesting things on Facebook because my friends share interesting things that  I don’t see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad

on Facebook. LinkedIn is getting better. Find it where you want to. I found that the New York Times has great articles on various things that are of interest to me on publishing on different types of issues that I can share. They’re a source. There’s all different sources; you get traditional media; you’ve got news aggregators; you’ve got Twitter; you have other forms of social media.

These are all listening tools. You have to listen, if you want to elevate yourself as a blogger. And that goes back to the idea that earlier chapter about entering the room as a blogger. You can’t stay outside the room, and just blog, blog, blog, blog. You’ve got to begin to enter the room. And so if you’re a leading lawyer on a particular shot here, and now you’re listening to what’s going on on the subject, and you’re referencing what other people are saying, they’re going to take notice of you. Your influence and your reputation is going to grow. More people are going to cite you. You’re going to get known by more lawyers, more associations, more judiciaries, whether it’s local or statewide or nationally. So that’s the importance of the listening tools. I’ll go through each of them and how they’re used in particular in a later chapter, but you’ve just got to use listening tools to effectively blog. It’s not about just sitting in front of the computer and saying, “I’m going to write something out today.” Thanks much and have a good day.