I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the GroPro 2020 conference in New York City. I presented a session with one of my favorite partners at my firm, Laurie Stanziale, (because she really listens to my advice to enhance her business development efforts!) on how lawyers can maximize every networking event, writing and speaking opportunity, and social media interaction to their advantage.
I’ll be writing a few articles that will delve deeper into the topics we discussed at the conference, but until then, here’s my secret sauce on how to effectively engage with clients, prospects and other key influencers to strengthen your brand and to generate real business.
- Reuse and repurpose everything. Think headshots, practice area images, previously published client alerts and articles. Every single image and piece of content you have can be used multiple times. For example, you can pull out an interesting statistic, create a word cloud, use icons or big numbers to bring important points to life, a quote or just tell the story in a different way, and voilà, it’s a different piece of content! Use an editorial calendar to help you track and manage the posts.
- Create once, publish everywhere (but adjust the message for the medium). Delving deeper into the point above, while you should leverage the social platforms most frequently used by your clients and prospects, don’t post the same exact content and image to LinkedIn that you would post to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. It’s very important that you demonstrate to your target audiences that you have mastery of the social media platforms that you are utilizing or else you are committing social media suicide. Incorrectly using a particular platform shows your audience that you lack critical social media skills. Also, while it’s great if your firm has thousands of followers on LinkedIn and Twitter and the like, don’t forget that you also need to tap into the critical social networks of your lawyers to have maximum engagement. Ensure that your lawyers are properly trained on how to effectively use LinkedIn to share and like content or else you will miss out on reaching their powerful networks!
- Develop a visual content strategy. (I am a firm believer that you should post nothing to social without an image – trust me on this). Why? Because content with images gets noticed more. 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. Ask your employees to take photos at every event – iPhones actually take great quality photos. See below for some of my favorite photo tools to help you create images for free.
- Show vs. tell. Every piece of content you post should be value-added, helpful and client-centric. Don’t just tell your clients why you are the very best lawyers, show them. Always write with this in mind. Remember that most often, your clients are not lawyers. Always put yourself in their shoes. Throw the legalese out the window. Clients want to know who you are and how you can help them. Think about how to demonstrate that you are a leader in your field versus telling someone. It’s that simple.
- Use evergreen content to your advantage (think holidays, timeless client alerts, spotlights on case studies, practices and lawyers, professional development and careers programs, etc.). This is what I like to call your “what you say when you have nothing to say” content strategy – or perhaps better put, evergreen content/owned media. A strong owned media strategy will build your brand, lead to new business and the bonus – it will make your lawyers very happy. This is especially important for those who work at smaller firms where it may be harder to get top-tier press on a regular basis. We created a campaign for Women’s History Month where we highlighted the women at the firm and their backgrounds (using visuals, of course) that was very successful. Another firm at which I worked had a large population of veterans and saluted them (using pictures of them in uniform) on Veterans Day. You could do the same for just about any holiday – Lunar New Year, Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Administrative Professionals Day – you name it. Get creative.
- Use free online tools to gain a competitive edge. Working at a mid-size firm with a limited budget, I often have to get resourceful. During my talk, I spoke about the free tools that I use, such as hashtagify.me (which gives you the top trending hashtags associated with a particular topic – brilliant!). Utilize canva.com, Picstitch and free photo resizing tools to help you create visually arresting images to bring your social media posts to life. Also, set up Google searches on your top clients and prospects. These are free and give you great insights into your clients. Arm yourself with as much information as you can and you will have an advantage over your competitors and demonstrate to your clients how much you care about their business.
- Maximize every event and networking opportunity. Don’t just attend an event and run back to the office. Instead immerse yourself in the conference experience and differentiate yourself as a subject-matter expert by making yourself part of the conversation on social media (engaging on Twitter using the conference’s hashtag) or writing an article on the top takeaways that you learned from it. You could also interview your favorite speakers and write an article (easily transcribe the interview using your iPhone and another one of my favorite tools, the cheap online transcription tool temi.com). Don’t forget to connect with those speakers (and key attendees you met) on LinkedIn afterwards to continue the relationship offline. I have many more tips on how to maximize every conference at which you attend and speak – you can read them here. Think of every professional activity – such as attending a conference or event – as a way to build your personal brand. Do more than your peers and you will shine brighter.
- Connect online now. LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for law firm business development and professional networking. It enables you to quickly build and grow relationships, build your brand and stay top of mind with key individuals in your professional network. So, use it smartly and use it often. I’ll be focusing a lot on tips for maximizing LinkedIn and providing pointers on how to effectively use it in the next few months because I have never seen it directly lead to new business more than I have in the last year (hint – use the notifications section to give you reasons to be in touch with VIP contacts in your network – information is power here!).
For all firms and lawyers, the goal of marketing is lead generation and business development. How you get there is by building targeted relationships, staying top of mind, providing helpful content and consistently adding value. If you always think of yourself and your lawyers as legal solution providers, and you always aim to be authentic, memorable and creative, you will always be on the right track.