LinkedIn has never been more important than it is right now – not only because it has nearly 700 million users globally, but because during this time of social distancing, and this pause in in-person networking –social media is the most effective (and efficient) way to build your brand and business.

LinkedIn is a great place to network with other professionals who could become business partners, referral sources, clients and employees or employers.

While quality is always better than quantity when it comes to the number of LinkedIn connections you have, most business professionals who use LinkedIn can greatly increase their connections with a strategic plan.

Join me in spending the month of August strategically building your LinkedIn network. Aim to get to at least 501 connections (which will add the coveted 500+ connections mark right on your profile instead of your actual number of connections – some believe those LinkedIn users with 500+ connections are somehow more accomplished). I know all of you know more than 500 business professionals out of the millions who are using LinkedIn. If you’re already at the 500+ mark, aim to increase your connections by 10 percent this month. Here’s a plan for how to do this for business professionals of all levels and in all industries.

When it comes to strategically building your LinkedIn network. There are four primary ways to do it:

  1. Reach out
  2. Accept connection requests
  3. Connect to people who are suggested by LinkedIn
  4. Use groups – they are among the most powerful networking feature in LinkedIn

If you are starting from scratch or building a profile from a low number of connections, start by adding everyone in your professional life as a connection, current colleagues, former colleagues, clients, referral sources, former classmates and certain friends and family members who make sense from a professional standpoint.

Then incorporate these steps:

Continue Reading Join Me for the August LinkedIn Connections Challenge: How to Cultivate a Powerful LinkedIn Network

If you do it, make sure you say it.

I’m working with a few professional services organizations that have not updated their practice areas or industries in number of years.

This can result in clients and prospects believing that you do not have the ability to do certain types of work or the depth and breadth of experience in a particular area that is important to them. If you are selling a service or expertise, it’s crucial to describe your work.

Even worse is to have an outdated practice in an area that is no longer relevant (for example Dodd-Frank or a technology/product that no longer exists). You’re selling your firm, lawyers and capabilities short by not updating terminology, practice strengths and industries as innovation happens.

PS – make sure the images on your practice pages and other areas of your site are also updated – there’s nothing more confusing to a client or potential client than having an outdated image of a phone from 10 years ago if you are a technology-focused firm, for example.

It’s also important to read through current materials to ensure the latest innovative areas are added to your capabilities. For example, many firms now have a blockchain, artificial intelligence, cannabis or quality opportunity zones practices. These didn’t exist several years ago, so be sure to add those if you do.

Also, make sure to add relevant subpractices as well. For example, corporate, litigation and intellectual property have many specialized areas that fall underneath them. Be specific about what you do in each of these areas. Remember this will help your Google search engine results too.

Remember, outdated terms and practices are just that – outdated.

Lawyers can partner with their marketing team to analyze their current practice and industry mix to ensure the most accurate and relevant information is captured on in practice and industry descriptions on your web site and pitch materials. This will also help to enhance your SEO search results.

One final thought on practice and industry descriptions is to always write them with your client/prospective client in mind. That means use short paragraphs, speak in their language with industry terms that resonate with them and keep the defined terms, legalese and acronyms to a minimum. It’s okay to list representative matters but do it in laypeople’s terms (versus listing case citations, legalese and clunky terminology). Always tell a story. Brevity is key in web copy and keep in mind that longer copy doesn’t always equal better copy.

It is not unusual for firms of all sizes to have outdated web descriptions, so there’s no time like now to update them. This is your place to brag about what you do, how you do it and what makes you unique.

I hope these tips are helpful as you strategize about updating your practice and industry descriptions.

Content marketing takes time and effort, but staying top of mind with your target audiences is a key goal to marketing and business development – and providing value-added content is one way in which you can do this while branding yourself as a subject-matter expert in your area of the law.

Here are 12 tips to make your content marketing efforts successful and worthwhile. Keep in mind that they may take time to show real ROI, but I have seen thought leadership content lead to new business over and over, so be patient!

  1. Strong headlines are key. They capture the attention of your readers and make them want to click through.
  2. Make sure your mailing lists have clean data. Or else your campaigns won’t actually reach anyone.
  3. Remember that great content invites followers and potential leads/referrals and clients.
  4. Good is often good enough – don’t spend forever perfecting a piece of content. Time is often of the essence to get a piece published.
  5. Look to see what your competitors are writing about and do it better than them. I recommend following 5-10 of your competitors and track what they write about. Follow their blogs and their LinkedIn accounts.
  6. Recycle your greatest hits. So many firms take the time to create great content but they only post it once to social – huge mistake. No one is following your feed closely enough to notice if you reuse your content. Change up the wording and imagery and voila – you have a new piece of content.
  7. Study your analytics to get a better sense of what content is resonating with your target audiences and what’s not. Make sure you share this info with authors as it inspires and educated them.
  8. Only focus on the social platforms where your clients and prospects are – don’t feel like you need to post content to all social channels. You should only dedicate your time and efforts to those platforms they are using – with LinkedIn being the most important one.
  9. I’m a firm believer that you should post nothing to social media without an image. Why? Because social media posts with images gain more views and engagement, period. Anyone can incorporate visuals into their social media strategy, you just need to be creative and resourceful. You can easily reuse and repurpose images that you already have, and resize them using tools right on your smartphone. In addition, there are many photo and online design tools that enable you to create images for free or at a low cost.
  10. Pursue opportunities to have your content published in third-party trade journals, websites and publications focused on your target industry. By doing this your target audience will grow to know, like and trust you as well.
  11. Utilize content syndicators like JD Supra. Many law firms (and their lawyers) invest considerable time writing great content, but are disappointed by the results. Either their thought leadership efforts don’t lead to new business, or they fail to garner media attention or the attention of clients/prospects. This isn’t necessarily because the content is poorly written. Often it is simply because not enough of the right people, your target readers, have the chance to see the work. Fact is, we operate in a competitive and saturated market and simply getting someone to open your email and read your content is very difficult. So, what can you do to stand out from your peers? Bring in the special forces like JD Supra to take your content efforts to the next level. In simple terms, JD Supra helps its clients leverage thought leadership to effectively create new business, media attention and networking opportunities.
  12. Consider utilizing new media and new mediums to engage with audiences such as video and podcasts, which can capture the attention of new followers and lead to new business.

Happy content creating!

I wanted to write about being kinder to others to remind myself and others because so many of us carry around personal baggage on a daily basis that affects our moods and impacts our interactions with others. And while we don’t have control over what others do, we do have control over our own actions, how we deal with the cards we’ve been dealt and how we interact with others.

It is not often apparent to the naked eye the struggles that someone is facing internally. The bottom line is to treat everyone with kindness because you just don’t know what someone is dealing with on any given day. You could really make a difference in someone’s life with a simple gesture of support or kindness.

Why should we be kinder? Well, it makes us happier for one. It reduces stress and anxiety. Research suggests that kind people are often healthier and live longer. It’s calming. And it’s the right thing to do. I believe kindness is contagious. Kind acts encourage other kind acts.

Kindness is a choice. So, choose it. How can you be kinder? Here are some simple things each of us can do in and out of the office. (And don’t forget to always assume good intent).

  1. Smile even when you aren’t happy. Studies have shown that the act of smiling can trick your brain into happiness.
  2. Hold the door open for someone
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff – let it go
  4. Offer a hug or gesture of affection to someone who needs it
  5. Listen more versus talk
  6. Go out of your way to invite someone new into your friend circle
  7. Thank people who have helped you
  8. Give more compliments
  9.  Keep a gratitude journal and write down for what you are most thankful
  10. Reach out to someone you know needs help
  11. Forgive someone who hurt you
  12. Regularly say thank you and please
  13. Pay for the coffee for person behind you in line
  14. Drive with kindness
  15. Let someone in a rush go ahead of you at the checkout line
  16. Say “I love you” more often to your family and friends
  17. Offer to help an overwhelmed co-worker
  18. Hold the elevator open for someone
  19. Help the homeless
  20. Send thank you notes just because
  21. Empty the dishwasher/make the bed/take out the trash
  22. Tip generously
  23. Say hello to strangers
  24. Offer to babysit a friend’s child so they can have a night out
  25. Be nice to people you dislike – cut them slack and remember the phrase “kill them with kindness”
  26. Make a hard copy of a photo you have and send to the person in it just because
  27. Get your pet certified to be an emotional support animal and bring your pet to hospitals and nursing homes
  28. Visit loved ones more in person – especially elderly ones
  29. Give away books you love to those you love
  30. Think before you speak
  31. Don’t gossip and don’t be a mean girl
  32. Do what you say you’re going to do (when you say you’re going to do it)
  33. Respond to emails, texts and phone calls (especially from loved ones) and make the effort to reach out to those in your life you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  34. Help someone cross the street
  35. Pick up litter even if it’s not yours (and recycle!)
  36. Call your parents/grandparents more
  37. Say “bless you” or your preferred term when someone sneezes
  38. Gift something meaningful to someone
  39. Donate and/or volunteer for your favorite charity
  40. Give up your seat to someone who needs it

I’d like to leave you with a final thought to savor the everyday moments that make you happy in order to become a kinder person. Relishing the little things, such as a sunny day, when your dog finally catches a Frisbee, eating an ice cream sandwich (if you’re lactose intolerant find a suitable non-dairy alternative) or staring at the flowers in your garden, teaches you to be more grateful and appreciative of what you have, especially when things go wrong, and as a result, you may find yourself being kinder to others. Go with that feeling – there’s no such thing as having too much kindness. If each of us does one kind act each day, imagine what we can accomplish? So let’s challenge each other to be kinder and nicer, and let’s start right now.

Using Twitter is a great way to enhance your personal brand as well as your firm brand. It can be hard to find time to write long-form, but tweets are short and you have control over them yourself, making it easy to create and share content on the platform. Importantly, it is also easy to engage with leaders in your practice area or industry, to raise your profile more.

Getting Started With Twitter

Here are must-knows to help you start on the right foot.

  • Use your actual name as your Twitter handle or username rather than come up with something “cute.” It’s better to be simple and professional here for branding purposes and, well, because you are a professional. Also, use your logo as your profile photo for your company Twitter account and use a professional headshot for your profile page.
  • Always add value. Remember, this is about building your brand. Every post you create should add value. Your tweets and retweets should be helpful and interesting to your specific audience.
  • Get to the point. One benefit of the limited number of characters allowed in a post (280 characters to be exact) is that you learn to write succinctly and to get to the point quickly.
  • Take the time to develop a content strategy. You’ll want to develop a plan for a steady stream of quick, timely and evergreen content ideas throughout the year so that you can attract and build followers and then stay top of mind with them.
  • Use an editorial calendar. This will help you track your posts and, of course, reuse and repurpose your content throughout the year.
  • Build your followers. Identify influencers and engage with them (see below) — you will gain more followers if you effectively engage with your audience.

Things to Do Once You’re Up and Running

Now that you have the foundation for your Twitter strategy (followers and content), the next step is to become more active on the platform and achieve your goal — whether enhancing your brand or bringing in new clients. Here are some ideas on how to do both.

  • Become part of conference conversations. Tweet before, during and after important industry conferences using the official conference hashtags. (You can easily find them in conference materials and online.) Use the tweets to inspire your future content ideas (sort by the hashtag for inspiration) and retweet content from key influencers to build relationships.
  • Become a content aggregator, but be careful. A word to the wise: Always click on all articles and read them before retweeting and sharing in case the author’s viewpoints don’t completely align with yours. Set up Google alerts as well, and follow news sources so you have a steady stream of content to share.
  • Do more than share article and alert headlines. When you post links to an article or other content, offer an insight or two by retweeting with a comment on why the article is important. This way your followers will come to rely on you as their own personal industry news aggregator.
  • Incorporate hashtags directly in tweet copy instead of adding them to the end, if possible. This creates a cleaner look and ensures the hashtags are visible.
  • Share white papers and studies from organizations and companies you admire for thought leadership. I often look to the Big Four accounting firms and other financial services companies for inspiration. In addition, industry reports are great content and are often released by PR firms and other consulting firms within the legal industry. Spend time identifying the key players in your practice niche or industry and follow them on social media so that you have a steady stream of content possibilities to share.

Pro Twitter Tips

  • Use Twitter lists. Use tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to manage your followers and contacts and to easily follow their tweets. In addition to monitoring Twitter feeds, these tools are helpful for scheduling your posts and you can use them to your advantage for efficiency.
  • Tweet often — at least once or twice per day. As long as you have something of value to say, don’t worry about oversaturation. People are busy; they aren’t constantly following your feed. Consistency is the key to success when building your brand on Twitter.
  • When used correctly, hashtags can be an effective way to grow your reach, promote engagement and get discovered on Twitter. Always use hashtags, but only use two per post. Tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those with three or more. Hashtags help your content become more visible and more easily found based on real-time engagement.
  • Research what your competitors are doing, and do it better. This is one of my favorite tips for pretty much any area of marketing — because there’s nothing that invigorates lawyers as much as showing them what their peers are up to. Follow the Twitter accounts of your top 10 competitors and take screenshots of their best and worst tweets, along with any visuals. Keep a running file and use these posts as inspiration to push your own creativity.

Every now and then I find myself needing some extra inspirational advice, especially during the pandemic. What makes me an expert in this area? Well I’ve been through a lot personally and professionally and learned some lessons that may help you too. I wanted to share with you a list of inspirational and motivational actions that I have been keeping on simple things we can do to be better, kinder people and give back to others. These are easy things each of us can incorporate into our every day lives that will make a big impact. Try them out let me know what you think.

  1. Find the good in people
  2. Pay good deeds forward
  3. Make someone smile
  4. Extend a helping hand
  5. Dwelling on the past won’t get you to your future
  6. Assume good intent with everyone – you never know what someone is dealing with
  7. Slow down before you speed up
  8. Don’t say yes when you mean no
  9. Feel grateful – look for the silver linings
  10. You are not defined by your job title
  11. You can never go wrong from being helpful
  12. Being calm is a superpower that allows your mind to find solutions
  13. Tough times say a lot about who you are
  14. See the good in everything, keep your promises and don’t cross anyone
  15. Support others to succeed, give your undivided attention and exceed expectations
  16. Forgive people and give others the benefit of the doubt but it’s okay to walk away from those who hurt you
  17. Puppies cure all problems (I just got one after losing my beloved dog last month). We all are spending more time at home and so this creates this perfect environment in which to train a pet. Plus, pets make you happier (I know this but studies back me up). Meet my new French bulldog puppy Lucy. 
  18. Spend time with your family and friends and tell them what they mean to you
  19. Experiences are so much more powerful than material possessions
  20. Don’t be a mean girl/guy
  21. Not everyone will like you and that’s okay
  22. Find people who let you be you
  23. Express gratitude, cultivate optimism, avoid overthinking and practice kindness
  24. Be kind, show patience, motivate others and learn from others
  25. You get what you expect – If you believe today will be amazing, it will be great. If you believe people are kind, they will be big hearted. If you think you will succeed, you will prosper. If you feel grateful, you will be.

It’s a challenging time for everyone in terms of generating new business right now for everyone. Some clients are reluctant to engage with outside counsel and certain matters have been put on hold with the world being in such flux.

If you are a senior associate or junior partner who has lost momentum on building your book of business and/or brand due to the pandemic, or you’re just starting to think about developing new business, I have a few ideas. Consider doing these now to lay the groundwork, to put yourself in a strong position in the future when it comes to lead generation.

  1. Identify where you will focus your time. An important first step. Without a clear business development strategy (including an industry focus for most practice areas, as well as identifying the individuals that will be “buyers” or connectors to “buyers”) your efforts will be scattered and inefficient. Start small, list out actionable goals, and steps you’ll need to take to accomplish them.
  2. Find internal and external champions. Ask a mentor or senior partner for advice on what worked for them.
  3. Use LinkedIn to develop relationships. LinkedIn is the most important social media network for professionals. Especially now. Use it often, and use it wisely. Reconnect with individuals with whom you haven’t spoken in a while, such as colleagues from law school and former firms. Be active on LinkedIn by sharing posts and reacting to the posts of others in your network.
  4. Check in with individuals in your network. Right now, nothing is business as usual. The personal touch of reaching out to someone and asking them how they are doing will go a long way in terms of bolstering relationships. Your clients have a lot of choices when it comes to outside counsel. They often choose their lawyers based on likability, responsiveness and skills. The best thing you can do right now is to show your clients how much you care about them.
  5. Every interaction with a client or prospect is an opportunity to impress and build trust. Remember that you are always being evaluated so put your best foot forward, intently listen and think carefully about what you say and do.
  6. Set up an informal referral network. Choose a key group of contacts where there is mutual benefit. You can get together virtually, brainstorm ideas, and share information about your practices. This is especially effective if you are a specialist in a certain area or if you work at a niche firm.
  7. Ask for help inside or outside of your firm to develop a cohesive plan based on the realities of the existing legal marketplace. Think about the various ways that business development will assist you to achieve your personal goals: income, impact, ideal way of practicing, independence, invulnerability, indulgence, etc. Keep whichever of these elements are important to you top of mind, they are your motivators and why you do this work.
  8. Offer to write client alerts and blog posts. One of the most effective ways to build your brand and become known as a subject matter expert is to become a published author. Offer to help out a busy partner on an alert and raise your hand to write for a firm blog. This will also help your search engine results, as content that is educational will move you up on Google and other major search platforms.
  9. Make the time for business development. In order truly to be successful at business development you must make time for it. It’s an investment in yourself. You will see results if you commit to what you say you will do each month. Today, most established lawyers have to do some sort of business development and marketing in order to stay top of mind with their current clients, referrals and prospects. This is especially the case if you are trying to build your own client base and step outside the shadow of the senior lawyers with whom you work. Business development is an investment in your future. And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Effective business development efforts can be done in just five to ten minutes each day when you are organized.
  10. Create a strong biography and LinkedIn summary. Ensure that your profile is optimized and reflects what you currently do. Use keywords to describe what you do to enhance your search results. Look to competitors and peers for content inspiration.
  11. Get involved in a bar association, industry committee, alumni network or pro bono group. Raising your hand for a volunteer role will enable you to meet other people in the industry and acquire leadership skills, all of which are important along your professional journey.

Finally, for each of us there is no single way of successfully becoming a rainmaker, only your way. It’s never too early to start thinking about building your network, brand and business. You don’t have to sell, ask, schmooze, push or pressure anyone ever. I don’t believe in the elevator pitch.

However, you do need to develop relationships and be likable, and that can happen in many ways that fits your style, comfort zone, personality, values or goals. Remember that everyone who you meet can be a potential client, referral source or future employee/employer.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on how to market yourself and build your brand during the time of social distancing, which focused a lot on LinkedIn, to the NALSC (National Association of Legal Search Consultants).

There are a lot of enhancements to LinkedIn company and personal pages that recruiters should use to their advantage.

I know we’re all dealing with so much more working from home. After losing my beloved French bulldog Charlie about a month ago, I recently got another French bulldog puppy, Lucy, who is adjusting to a very different life in New York City after coming from rural Oklahoma. She is very high maintenance to say the least. She likes to be around me all the time and follows me wherever I go – this is one of the many great joys of having a French bulldog! She contently sat on my lap the entire time during the presentation. I tried not to talk too loud so I didn’t wake her up or frighten her.

I am in awe of all of the parents who are going above and beyond to be at the top of their professional game and caregivers as well. And then they’re also people like me managing pets at home who act like children. If there’s one thing I am thankful for during this time of social distancing it’s that we’re revealing more of ourselves, being more casual (if you’ve seen me on Zoom you know I love a fun t-shirt) and being more authentic.

There’s so much that we don’t see behind the scenes today and that’s why I share the picture of my puppy sitting on my lap. Thank you Dan Binstock and Stephanie Ankus for inviting me to speak to their terrific group of professionals.

What if I told you that there was a cool visual way to view and then request new connections to your LinkedIn network and it was so easy that all you had to do was to hold up your smartphone and scan a QR code?

Well, it exists – pretty exciting, right? (it’s a relatively new feature that was introduced in June 2018) and many people don’t know about it, because LinkedIn doesn’t always do a great job of letting its users know when it makes enhancements to its platform. Take full advantage of this nifty tool and impress the lawyers with whom you work and your colleagues. Continue Reading Why You Should Add Your Personal LinkedIn QR Code to Every Presentation, Pitch and Marketing Material

LinkedIn introduced the ability for its users to create polls, which can be quite handy if you are trying to gauge the opinions of others in your network on a various topic. It can also help to initiate conversations and keep you top of mind. Here’s how to do it (PS – it’s super easy and you can do it from your profile page, a group or a LinkedIn company page if you are an administrator).

You can create a poll from LinkedIn’s homepage. If you’re an admin of a LinkedIn Page, or a LinkedIn Group you can create a poll directly from the page or group’s homepage.

Note: The LinkedIn Polls feature is being gradually rolled out to all  LinkedIn members.

To create a poll from your homepage:

  1. Click  Start a post.
  2. Click Create a poll.
  3. In the Create a poll window, type your question and fill in the options.
    • There is a minimum of two options and a maximum of four options on a poll.
    • Click +Add option to add another option.
  4. Select the Poll duration from the dropdown.
    • The default duration is one week.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Click the  Edit icon to edit the post.
  7. You can add more to the post in the What do you want to talk about? field (optional).
  8. Click Post.