I recently had a conversation with a lawyer who was struggling to finish a client alert. It had been sitting on his desk for about a week for his final review.

This lawyer is not known to be a procrastinator, so I asked him what was going on, and he candidly told me that he just couldn’t stop finetuning it. He said he kept moving around paragraphs, editing sentences and adding and deleting sections.

I (gently) told him that time was of the essence here since the alert was about a recent development in his area of the law and his clients expected him to write about it and they wanted to know his thoughts on the issue.

I also told him that three of our peer firms had published alerts on a similar topic in the past week and it was suddenly like a light went off in his head (nothing like a little competition to motivate someone!). A few hours later, he sent me his final version of the article, and we were able to finally distribute it, albeit several days late.

While it was better late than never, this situation wasn’t ideal for the article to get maximum exposure and the strongest effect, and I know I’m not alone in having this experience, which is why I decided to write this piece, which is geared toward lawyers but can be adapted for anyone in any industry.  Continue Reading How to Overcome Content Paralysis and Get the Attention You Deserve

Thank you to 2019 LMA Annual Conference attendees Sarah Blanchard and Catalina Castro for writing a terrific recap of my LMA19 Annual Conference Session on “Beyond Branding: Aligning Social Media Strategy with Business Development Goals.” I am so glad that the session seemed to resonate with attendees. Also, I’d like to thank the LMA Mid-Atlantic Region for featuring this article on their blog.  

In their recap, Sarah and Catalina highlight key points from our workshop, including how social media is used, what firms should be doing to connect with their target audiences and how to implement best practices immediately. Take a look!

So many lawyers are perfectionists, which psychologists define as striving for flawlessness and setting overly high-performance standards. This can really derail them when it comes to content creation because they will tinker with writing/editing a client alert so much that they miss the boat on distributing it at the right time to their clients and it then majorly loses its impact. I call it content paralysis.

Most client alerts are about developments in the law and every minute counts when it comes to distribution, especially when your competitors are writing about similar topics. Don’t let them beat you to it! Always be brief and efficient when writing an alert – quickly get to the point in the first paragraph and make the headline concise and compelling to draw in the reader. It’s okay if your articles aren’t masterpieces! Keep on publishing because practice makes you a better writer.

The most important piece of advice I have for those lawyers who pay acute attention to detail and have impeccably high standards is to not sit on an article and over edit it – create and distribute content while the topic is hot – embrace the idea of good enough. There’s no such thing as perfect (besides, your good enough is likely prretty amazing). Don’t sacrifice quality but also don’t let your competitors win.

I’m often asked how to develop a social media strategy that is aligned to your business development goals, which is absolutely critical to ensuring that your content supports your big picture growth efforts, so I thought I’d share a few ideas that I hope inspire you:

  • If you are a communications person, you should regularly meet with your business development colleagues to understand their priorities and how you can support their efforts
  • Review practice plans with your business development team so you really understand your firm’s practice and industry goals. Make sure you know who the top clients in each practice/industry are.
  • Become well versed in your firm’s strategic plan so that you know the bigger picture (hopefully your firm has a strategic plan!)
  • Focus on supporting the key rainmakers at your firm and the up-and-coming star associates and junior partners.
  • With the practice and lawyer points noted above, be strategic in choosing on which ones on which you focus. This may change each year based on firm and practice goals. This is why it is so important to be closely aligned with business development.
  • Define your audience, plan your approach and set clear, measurable goals for your social media and content strategy
  • Select your platforms (for example, most firms want a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) but your firm should ONLY focus on those where you know your clients and target audiences are. It’s better to narrow down the focus and do those well.
  • Adjust your content for the medium. What I mean by this is don’t post the same content on each platform – one size doesn’t fit all
  • Build an editorial/content calendar to manage mix of posts
  • Train employees on how to use social media to tap into their valuable networks (especially when it comes to LinkedIn)
  • Create timely, client-centric, educational content and always explain and anticipate what developments mean to your readers
  • Make your content work harder and smarter for you by:
    • Reusing and repurposing it
    • Creating once, publishing it everywhere (adjusting for the social networks)
    • Taking the time to create visuals to accompany your posts – they increase not just your brand awareness on social but also clickthroughs
    • Sprinkling in timeless, evergreen content when you have content gaps (I call these the content gifts that keep giving)
  • Effectively use visuals, hashtags, calls to action, and consider folding in more interactive content such as videos and podcasts
  • Your content must always be client-centric, and written in your clients’ language (no legalese!)
  • Don’t wait – create and distribute content while the topic is hot (good is often good enough)
  • Incorporate paid/sponsored content and using LinkedIn Navigator for targeting
  • Understand how SEO works and then use it to your advantage
  • Use analytics and data to refine your strategy

Remember, only create and share content based on your strategic business development goals – everything else is ancillary.

Of course everyone learns and thinks differently – our brains are each hard wired uniquely – different strokes for different folks.

All throughout my formative school and college years, I was a traditional note taker, writing things down with an old-fashioned pen and paper. Despite the advent of many cool tech tools designed to make our lives more efficient over the years, I’ve stuck to these tried and true tools. They’ve always helped me effectively absorb and synthesize information – especially when it’s complex.

But I know a lot of people use their laptops and tablets for note taking. I’ve always wondered which method was more efficient and effective for grasping concepts.

An NPR article suggests that electronic note taking may not be the better way to do it. The reason is that when people type their notes, they have a tendency to try to take them verbatim and type up as much of the information as they can versus those who take longhand notes and are forced to be more selective about what they write down — because you simply can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material immensely benefits longhand note takers.

So essentially hand writing notes makes the mind do extra processing of the material at hand, enabling you to grasp it faster and be more efficient. And who couldn’t use some more efficiency in their day? I know I can.

When I posted this article on LinkedIn, it got a lot of likes and comments, and people started sharing their learning styles. My friend Nate Jenks mentioned that he uses a hybrid of traditional handwritten note taking along with an electronic system, which is along the lines of what I now do, especially when I am at a conference or in a meeting. Nate uses Evernotes and categorizes his notes with the helpful note taking program. I use plain old Word to help me organize my thoughts. There’s something also about looking at my handwritten notes again and extrapolating the important bits of information from it into an outline or a work plan that really help me retain the information.

I’d love to hear what works for you with note taking!

If you are the page administrator of a LinkedIn Company page, you may have seen a new option recently pop up on the administrator tool page – the option to “grow your page audience.”

This neat tool enables you to now invite your connections to follow your LinkedIn company page right from the page itself.

LinkedIn now offers three top suggestions for individuals to invite on the top right-hand side of the page and also offers an “Invite more connections” link right below it, which upon clicking, takes the user to a broader list of contacts in their first-degree network who they can invite to like their company page. (Note, it does say at the bottom of this screen that you can only invite a connection once to follow your page.)

With this tool to invite your LinkedIn connections to follow your company page, it’s never been easier to tap into the valuable individual professional networks of your employees, who often are the ones who directly hold the key to reaching clients, prospects and other key target audiences to help enhance the visibility of your company and brand.

Here’s what the grow your page audience tool looks like right on your LinkedIn company page.

This is because oftentimes, those individuals are following your employees on LinkedIn rather than the organization for which they work. This means they’re missing key updates and news posted by the firm, which could help to influence their decisions on the legal services they buy in the future. So this is a great way to encourage them to also follow the firm as well. In addition, this new tool is especially useful for those organizations that want to increase their followers and have noticed that many of their employees have many more connections than the company does. Note: If your company hasn’t conducted an audit of the number of LinkedIn connections of its employees, it should. it’s a great way to identify influencers on LinkedIn and to see where to invest your time and effort.

In talking to a few industry friends, it appears that not everyone has this feature yet on their company page, so as with other changes its has recently implemented, it seems as if LinkedIn is rolling this one out in stages – so stay tuned for it if you haven’t yet gotten it.

In closing, asking your employees to strategically invite their connections to follow your company page can increase awareness for your brand, which can often lead to new business and referrals down the line. Try it and let me know what you think!

 

Here’s an idea for those of you running, walking or just cheering on participants in today and tomorrow’s JP Morgan Chase Challenge (or any group organized athletic event for that matter) – make it a business development and networking opportunity.

Take a few minutes to reach out to your clients, referral sources and prospects and ask them if they are also participating in the event. Then ask them for their booth number and let them know yours. Wish them a great race and tell them you will stop by to say hello. Then make it your mission to find them either before or after the race. Get to know their colleagues, ask questions about them – apply same principles you know about effective networking.

Take advantage of every opportunity you have to engage with important contacts in person. Regardless of whether your contact is running the race, an action like this helps you stay top of mind with key individuals in your network. There’s something about the camaraderie of team sports like this to bring people together, and when it comes to business development, that’s what it’s all about.

I wish all of you participating in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge the very best of luck!

In today’s saturated and competitive legal market, it’s just not enough to be the very best at what you do, sitting behind your desk churning out work day in day out, to keep bringing in new business and to stay top of mind with clients, prospects and referrals.

Your competitors are likely doing more, and so should you.

The good news is that there are many strategies and tactics available to lawyers at any stage of their careers – such as content marketing, social media, public speaking and volunteering, among others – that will enable them to build a stronger personal brand and achieve the ultimate goal of revenue generation.

A strong personal brand helps to differentiate you in the market, enables you to establish yourself as a leader in your industry and gives you a competitive edge. The purpose of having a strong brand isn’t just about being well known in your field, it’s about leveraging the power of your reputation and expertise so that it helps you achieve your business goals.

In my new JD Supra article, “20 Ways to Build a Stronger Professional Brand – Starting Today,” I explore how to set actionable personal branding goals for lawyers and execute on them. The article delves into how lawyers at any size firm can stay top of mind with clients, prospects and referrals using various personal branding techniques tailored to their strengths and interests. The ideas come from my many years of working with lawyers who inspire me, and I hope you find some inspiration in the article to try something in the article too. Take a look and let me know what you think!

An important part of your social media strategy should be to always post a visual with a piece of content. Why? Because it brings social posts to life and helps content better engage with your target audiences.

Including images in your posts (remember to also include your logo!) makes your content (and your firm) more engaging, interactive, relatable and memorable, and can help attract new followers as well as keep your existing audiences interested in what you have to say.

In addition, visual social content is a quick way to:

  • uniquely express your brand enabling you to stand out from your competitors
  • bring boring information to life
  • highlight important data
  • differentiate your firm and lawyers
  • showcase your practices/industries and news about the firm and lawyers
  • increase traffic to your web site (including lawyer bios, which are the most-visited and I think the most important pages on law firm web sites today) and blogs

That being said, more important than posting a visual is posting the right sized visual. And each social platform has different size requirements – so one size does not fit all. I see some firms and individuals post the same image to each social platform and what winds up happening is that it looks distorted and it makes them look unsavvy and a bit lazy. Taking the time to resize your images to fit each platform is worth it and demonstrates that you and your firm have mastery of the social platforms. You can often resize images right from your smartphone and when you can’t, there are free photo resizing online tools to help you. Here’s a handy social media resizing guide with the latest sizes for the major platforms.

Take a look at my JD Supra article on “Why You Should Resize Images on Social Media (and How to Easily Do It Yourself and Increase Engagement on Your Posts)” for more tips on how to do it yourself.

I came across a terrific (and short article) in Attorney at Work by Tea Hoffmann on “Developing a What’s Next Mindset” that I passed along to the lawyers with whom I work because I like how it drives home the point that lawyers should always be thinking about the next step in trying to turn a prospect into a client. I also like how it drives home the point about how thinking strategically and carefully about the next steps in the sales cycle can lead to more business – a lawyer and his/her advisors must always be planting the seeds for how to engage with the prospect and how best to “pitch” the story of the firm and its services.

As the article notes, “typically it takes up to eight interactions, done over the course of six to 18 months, to convert a prospect to a client and only 20 percent of your prospects will become clients.” Now, this is a generalization of course, and it can take much longer or much shorter for a lead to become a client – but you get the point that the buyer journey to client is oftentimes quite long with mnay touchpoints along the way. The author also goes on to say that a what’s next mindset is great for lawyers because they tend to be deadline driven and laser focused – so this gives them motivation and the opportunity for goal setting. Continue Reading How to Create a What’s Next Lead Generation Mindset