In my post on Tuesday, I wrote how I would effectively and ethically use social media and other internet tools if I was still practicing law. I pointed out that social media is one of the many tools to develop relationships. 

A few months ago I read The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff by Clara Shih. I recommend the book if you want to learn more about social media and how others are using it for marketing. In the book Shih makes the point that as individuals we have two sources of competitive advantage: human capital and social capital.

Your human capital is your talent as a lawyer. Social capital is your relationships. If you really boil it down, your ability to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients depends on your talent and relationships.

Shih points to studies by Stanford and Harvard professors showing that “social capital is a powerful source of knowledge, ideas, opportunities, support, reputation, and visibility that is equally if not even more influential than human capital. On line social networks are tools that you can use to develop relationships. While in person relationship building is more important than ever, the social network tools can be used efficiently and effectively to expand your social capital with "loose ties." Social networks can also be used as a tool to demonstrate your skills by linking to articles, blog posts, presentations and other content you create.

If you want to keep up with what to expect in social media for 2010, I recommend you read Bentley Folk’s I also recommend that you read my February Practical Lawyer Column: Practical Tips on How and Why to Use Social Media.

I know that firms need and want to control what their lawyers are putting on any of the social media sites. That makes sense given what some lawyers have posted. At the same time firms need to realize social media is totally changing the legal marketing landscape. I urge you to put together a plan for your firm.