This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Apps, social media enhance conference experience."
Apps, social media enhance conference experience
Last week, I attended the annual ABA Techshow in Chicago. It’s one of my favorite legal technology conferences. While there, I learned a lot and really enjoyed spending time with old friends and meeting new ones. It was also the first conference I attended as a vendor, rather than simply a participant, now that I’m vice president of MyCaseInc.com, something made the experience all the more interesting.
My time in Chicago wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t had social media and mobile apps at my disposal. This is because with the advent of new social technologies and tools, legal conferences aren’t the serious, imposing events that they used to be. These days, legal conferences are completely different ballgame, in large part because we now have social media and mobile apps available to facilitate communication, learning and socializing. Selective use of these tools can truly enhance your legal conference experience — it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones best fit your needs and your comfort level with emerging technologies.
Twitter is a great tool to use for communicating and for connecting with others. One way to do this is to tweet summaries of content from conference sessions. Doing so allows you to provide useful information to your followers, something that many of them will appreciate. As you tweet, make sure to use the hashtag for the event, which is the word chosen by conference organizers to represent the event, preceded by the number sign. So in the case of the ABA Techshow it was #ABATechshow. However, take care to avoid overloading your Twitter stream with an excessive amount of tweets, since some of your followers might find that to be annoying.
You can also use Twitter to connect with other conference attendees by creating a Twitter list of those who will be attending the conference. To do this, follow the hashtag created for the event and and then add to your Twitter list people who mention that they’ll be attending the conference. You can also send out tweets to your followers asking who plans to attend. Creating a list of conference attendees provides a useful service for other attendees while simultaneously allowing you to get on their radar, since Twitter users receive notifications whenever they are added to a Twitter list.
Another way to use Twitter is to simply send out a tweet that includes the conference hashtag announcing that you’ll be in the hotel lounge for the next half hour and welcome the company of others. I’ve done this on many occasions and every time I’ve connected with people that I otherwise never would have had the pleasure of meeting in person.
If you blog, you can also connect with online friends using your blog. Simply write a post about the fact that you’ll be attending the conference and let your readers know that you’d like to connect while in town, even if they’re not attending the conference. Mention this on Facebook and Twitter, too. Doing so is a great way to take online relationships offline and thus expand your professional network. I bet you’ll be surprised by how many people respond to your request to meet up while in town.
You might also want to organize a dinner or happy hour while in town. I use Evite.com for this purpose. You simply create the invitation from a template and then, using their email addresses, invite people that you know will be attending the conference or who live in the area. One great Evite feature is the setting that allows your invitees to invite others using the Evite platform, thus allowing the guest list to grow naturally and organically.
The TripIt app is also a useful tool for conference-goers. This app helps you to plan your trip, keeps all of your itineraries in one place, and also advises you which people in your TripIt network will be in town at the same time that you are. This feature provides you with yet another way to connect offline with those in your social and professional network.
Finally, download the “Bump” mobile app. Using this app, two mobile phone users simply open the app and bump phones. Your information is instantaneously exchanged and a new contact is automatically created in your contacts file.
As you can see, social media and mobile apps add a whole new dimension to legal conferences. These 21st century tools facilitate networking and make attending legal conferences all the more enjoyable and worthwhile.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Vice President of Business Development and Community Relations atMyCase, a powerful and intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.