Social Networking - Do We Need to Tweet to Compete?
September 2009 President's Message
Patrick E. Kelly
When asked in a Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) survey conducted last summer what the number one program or service the MCB could improve upon would be, 43% of respondents wanted the Bar to provide more networking opportunities. That's right. Our Bar members actually want to spend more time with one another. Actually, this makes sense if you think about it. Over the past 15 years, the MCB has doubled in size from approximately 2,000 members to nearly 4,300 members. During this time, the geographical size of Mecklenburg County has also expanded exponentially. Attorneys have become more and more specialized, creating smaller sub-groups of attorneys who have less interaction with attorneys outside their specialty. There is no longer a "Law Building" where all the attorneys in Mecklenburg County can meet, greet and socialize. In short, opportunities for face-to-face contact with fellow attorneys has diminished dramatically and been replaced by less personal emails, and more recently texting and tweeting.
The MCB is working to increase the networking opportunities of its members. Last year, under the able leadership of Committee Co-Chairs Sally Higgins and Doug Jarrell, the Bar instituted a Lawyers Luncheon Series. The Luncheon Series was a great success in its first year, and provides an excellent opportunity for attorneys to leave the office for an hour or so, meet old friends or make new friends, have a nice lunch, and listen to an engaging speaker. The MCB intends to continue this fine program again this year. I hope you will check it out.
At some point in the near future, the MCB will outgrow its current facilities and will need to move to or build a new Bar Center. Although this is a daunting prospect, having a larger and more functional Bar Center raises all sorts of new possibilities for providing networking opportunities and social contacts. My wish list for a new Bar Center includes, among other things, an attorney lounge area where Bar members can sit, have a cup of coffee, network, socialize, or simply read the newspaper.
In the age of twitter, the MCB would be short-sighted not to appreciate the significance of other forms of communication and networking. Since December 2006, the number of Facebook users has increased by 500 percent to over 250 million people. A quarter billion people now have Facebook profiles, including, no doubt, many MCB attorneys, mostly of more recent vintage. If our Bar does not recognize these new forms of social media, we are severely limiting our ability to "reach out and touch."
Our Young Lawyers Section has a Facebook page. Before long, other sections will begin having their own Facebook pages, and I suspect that the MCB will soon get in on the action. However, for those of you who are not yet ready or inclined to jump into this brave new world, you can still learn all about what MCB is doing and how you can get involved the old-fashioned way by logging onto our website at www.meckbar.org or, heaven forbid, by reading The Mecklenburg Bar News. Better yet, stop by the Bar Center, introduce yourself, and get engaged. You may be surprised by what you learn.
I confess that I am still betwixt, between and befuddled by all of the tweeting and twittering going on. But I recognize that the MCB has an obligation to stay current and relevant to its members and that we cannot do so unless we can effectively communicate with them. So as I and the MCB venture into unchartered waters to better serve our members and the public, we ask for you encouragement, your assistance and your patience.