By Sarah Valdes • April 29, 2020•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence
For most of us, social media has already permeated many aspects of our lives, from identifying meals that are Gram-worthy to trying to figure out what new Tik Tok dance everyone is talking about. Others are starting to discover new ways to stay connected while we physically distance. I admit that I have been a casual social media user who often finds herself identifying missed opportunities for development. For this post, I chose to connect with someone in my network who has identified how to best leverage social media platforms for her.
This month, we will hear from Tiffany Blackmon, a rock star lawyer who has been using social media for professional and personal development for years. Like many of you, Tiffany juggles motherhood, a legal career, civic engagement, and social commitments. Tiffany uses social media to enrich each aspect of her life. I encourage you to read this Q and A to get you thinking about the vast array of groups that are available to you to stay connected!
Q. What types of social media platforms do you use?
A. I use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, MeetUp and fitness ones- MyFitnessPal, OpenFit and FitBit.
Q. It seems like there are tons of social media platforms out there. Why do you use those?
A. I use Facebook because it has a large variety of local and global groups. MeetUp is great for connecting with local people I have common interests with. I use LinkedIn for professional networking and development. I use the fitness platforms for inspiration and motivation to stick to my fitness and health goals. Instagram I mostly use to find food to eat, hence the need for the fitness platforms.
Q. I know several platforms have groups, or subgroups you can follow. What types of groups are you a part of on social media?
A. I belong to local groups for mothers, as well as a national group for women lawyers and a group for moms who are lawyers. I also belong to groups for different interests, including foodie and hiking groups. I belong to fitness groups for folks who have similar interests/goals as I do, like training for a 5K and practicing yoga.
Q. What do you like most of the law themed groups?
A. I enjoy learning from others' experiences, especially learning about topics that are not as commonly talked about in the legal field, like non-traditional career options and prioritizing work-life balance and our own health.
Q. What do you like the non-legal groups?
A. I like connecting with others over common interests that I find relaxing and fun, like hiking and yoga. The legal field is often stressful, and a lot of legal groups/activities are focused on professional topics. It's nice to get a break to focus on something like finding the best hike to take my toddler on to find animals, or to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Q. Personally, I have had some reservations about robust use of social media platforms. Are there some things you don’t like about social media groups?
A. Like any internet-based activity, the groups unfortunately have some conversations devolve into arguments or spreading of misinformation. Some groups become very insular, and are not welcoming to differing views/ideas. For those of us in the legal field, it can also be difficult in the non-legal groups ensuring we do not give out legal advice and that it's never perceived we're trying to advertise our services in the group or creating an attorney-client relationship with someone in the group.
Q. For those readers who may not be familiar with what can be done with these social media platforms, can you describe some of your activity?
A. Some examples:
-I joined a local hiking Facebook group, and through it, I've found some great hikes to go on with my kids. I've also attended some events hosted by the group and met others that way.
-I joined OpenFit, which has its own app and a Facebook group. I recently went on a run through OpenFit, and I was connected with other runners all over the country, and we were able to communicate and share photos of our run on the app. We're connected in the Facebook group and able to encourage each other to attend classes and reach our fitness goals.
-I joined a LinkedIn group for remote workers, where I've gotten tips for how to make remote working the best experience for me, and I'm able to connect with other remote workers.
Q. Do you find your activity on these groups has increased since we began physical distancing?
A. I've definitely been more active in the groups, especially the fitness groups because I can no longer go to my gym or yoga studio. It's great to be able to stay connected with others through technology, since I'm unable to be around others in person!
Q. Do you have any recommendations for anyone who may be thinking of joining a social media group at this time?
A. I recommend doing searches on the social media platforms you use for your city and your interests, and then take the plunge, join a few groups so you can find one or more that works for you!
*Image credit: Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay