Twitter Makes Me a Better Employment Lawyer, and It Will Make You Better at Your Job Too
Posted at Arkansas Employment Law by M. McClure on 10/28/2009

Here's why:  Twitter is a fire hose of information provided by some of the smartest people in the country.  Twitter is known as the premiere platform for building social networks, and I'm grateful to know all the talented people I've "met" through Twitter.  But, it's the information that keeps me coming back every day.

Twitter allows you to follow the thoughts of experts in your industry, giving you near instantaneous access to cutting edge information and trends.  Employment law is made up of both state and federal law, and every state does things a little differently.  I think it's fair to say that employment law changes every day, and Twitter helps me stay current. Many of my clients have employees in several states, and I need to be able to spot issues that arise under another state's law and know when to call in local counsel.  Twitter helps me do that.

Here are a few tricks I've picked up to make the most of time on Twitter.  For starters, I follow employment lawyers, human resources professionals, and business leaders.  This combination brings exactly the kind of information I need to my desktop.   I'm sure you could identify similar experts in your field and find them on Twitter.  Did I mention that all this information is free?

Twitter is also a powerful search engine.  Using Tweetdeck, I run continuous searches on the phrases "EEOC," "FMLA" and "ADA" so that I can see what people throughout the country are saying on these topics. If the EEOC even thinks about making a change, it shows up in my Twitter stream.  You could also search on a geographic location, like "Little Rock," to find what people are talking about in your local area.

More importantly, your customers are probably on Twitter and some may be talking about you.  You should listen. And, your employees are on Twitter too. I'm amazed almost daily at the candid Twitter discussions employees have regarding their workplace. To put it mildly, they seem a little irritated.  

Are there conferences you'd like to attend but don't have time for? Most conferences now assign a hashtag, like #arbar, to a conference so that attendees can tweet their thoughts regarding the conference.  You can search the hashtag and find out what's happening in real time. Many people who are on Twitter also have blogs, and some attendees blog about the conference. Hashtags will lead you to those blog posts.  That's lots of information, and you don't have to go through airport security to get it.  If you do decide to travel to a conference, many schedule "tweetups" before or during the conference.  At a tweetup, you can meet all the smart people you talk with on Twitter in real life - what a concept! 

I do my best to contribute to the Twitter conversation, but I'm confident that I get much more out of Twitter than I'm putting into it.  Just following on Twitter will make you better at what you do.  If I've convinced you to join the twittersphere, let me know, I'm @MelanieMcClure.