I’ve been a big fan of Shari Belitz on LinkedIn over the pandemic. Her posts are eye catching and different for starters. Her engagement is high – she regularly uses song lyrics in her posts, colorful visuals and timely topics to liven up the topic of litigation consulting services. (You can follow her hashtag #clearasabelitz).

Shari is a litigation consultant and strategist, owner and CEO of Shari Belitz Communications, LLC a company which provides mock trial, focus groups, and other litigation consulting services to lawyers and insurance industry professionals.

I asked her to be part of the Women Who Wow series to get to know her better and hope you enjoy all of her terrific advice as much as I did.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always been fascinated by the study of human behavior, decision making and group dynamics. I took a traditional path by going to law school and practicing law but there was always a “pull” to do what I really loved which was to study people.

During my legal career I took a leap of faith and attended graduate school at night to study forensic psychology and jury research. I fell in love with the field and many years later, I pursued a career in litigation consulting. I wake up invigorated every morning to have the opportunity to do what I love best, apply psychology to litigation. I also teach my methods to litigators through my EnPSYCHLAWpedia™ course which has been a joy to create.

What do you love most about what you do?

My passion is writing case themes and telling stories through witnesses. As a practicing attorney I had taken and defended depositions, and while working at a large company, I was a corporate witness a few times. I draw upon all of these experiences along with my psychology background to put my witnesses through rigorous deposition and trial prep. It is not all boot-camp though! I really get to know them, their personalities, and their stories which reach far beyond the facts of one mere incident. I use their stories and personalities to tell bigger stories and develop themes for cases.

It is really rewarding to meet with a witness who is terrified of the process, has a lot of anxiety, and to talk to them, make them laugh and make them comfortable and confident to give compelling testimony. Even in a very serious case, I promise my witnesses we will not walk out of prep without having shared a couple of good laughs. A confident, comfortable witness is the best witness and always my goal.

What is a surprising/fun fact about you?

I am a ventriloquist! I was a pretty quiet kid with my nose always in a book, but I learned to be a great mimic and to do all sorts of voice tricks. Using these “parlor tricks” helped me connect with people without actually having to say too much about myself. It took the focus off of me, and gave people laughter and joy. I have always connected with people through laughter, it is still the ultimate icebreaker for me.

How has social media helped you build your brand and business?

Social media has been an invaluable tool in helping me build my brand and business. In March 2020 as the COVID pandemic hit New York City, I was at a crossroads professionally and had the additional stress of homeschooling my 10-year old twins while quarantined in an apartment. I was lonely, anxious and overwhelmed. I wrote a heartfelt love letter to New York City and posted it on LinkedIn. The response was overwhelming, and I felt as if I had finally found my voice.

I wanted to start a trial consulting practice so I threw myself into writing series of posts teaching lawyers how to apply psychological concepts to litigation. The more I wrote the more I was asked to speak. I connected with a group of 50 women attorneys who threw opportunity after opportunity at me. They believed in me, before I believed in myself. Their confidence in my abilities, their kindness and their love catapulted my business, and I landed my first large contract in the summer of 2020.

Twenty of the women and I captured our experiences in an anthology called #Networked which is about how we built business, friendships and so much more during a time of isolation. I believe social media is a great equalizer for small business as you just need great content, ideas and a willingness to share your thoughts with your marketplace. Through social media, particularly LinkedIn I have connected with incredible people around the world and I am forever grateful to know them personally and professionally.

When Naomi Osaka announced that she would not be competing in the French Open, she opened up about her struggles with anxiety and depression.

In doing so, she gave a voice to the tens of millions of people who struggle with these mental health issues, like me.

Maybe you are also struggling with anxiety or depression but have obligations to fulfill or feel torn between societal expectations and self-preservation. Maybe your employer is not supportive.

As this New York Times article notes, people of color may shoulder a disproportionate amount of emotional stress both in and outside of the workplace. Women are at least twice as likely to have had depression as men, according to federal data. And Black people are less likely than non-Hispanic white people to receive treatment for depression or prescription medications for mental health.

Many employers offer employee assistance programs that have services, including short-term counseling from licensed therapists or referrals to outside experts who can help with a specific mental health issue. (These services are often touted as confidential, but even so, some employees feel uncomfortable using them.) I didn’t. I didn’t say a word. I was afraid of the stigma.

I work for myself now because I have not yet found an employer that provides a mentally healthy workplace.

When Naomi stood up for herself, she helped to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues, but she is not the average person fighting a battle with anxiety or depression. Her voice does help show that mental health should be treated like a normal health issue.

Employers really do have a responsibility to helping their employees struggling with a mental health issue. Oftentimes the employer doesn’t realize there is an issue because it is hidden by negative performance or work absences at first. My employer knew I was struggling and still chose to cut ties with me at a time when doing so could have been catastrophic for me.

It’s not all work and productivity at the end of the day – especially after the catalysmic workplace shifts that happened during the pandemic.

There is much more that can be done to ensure that employees don’t fall through the cracks and that companies prioritize mental health and wellness.

Naomi’s story helps to shine a spotlight on mental health, which we really need – especially in the legal industry. She showed that it’s not all about career advancement and endorsements.

Your mental health matters; it’s critical for success in every area of your life. One in four people are struggling right now with a mental health issue and although Mental Health Awareness Month is technically over, we should be spreading awareness every day that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes and protecting yourself and boundaries are crucial.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the results of Chambers USA just came out and many lawyers and law firms are clogging up our social media feeds and even inboxes with news of their 2021 rankings.

Samples of the posts I’ve seen go something like this:

“I was recently recognized as a top [insert the practice] lawyer in Chambers USA” – yawn

“Once again, Chambers USA has included me among the top legal practitioners in [insert practice]”

I personally I think these posts come off as bragging and too self-congratulatory and boastful. Your clients aren’t super interested in this kind of news.

Check the number of likes you receive on these posts (and who liked them – it’s probably your colleagues and close friends) and let me know if I am right.

The reason why these posts don’t work is that your social media posts should be client-centric and focused on providing value to your followers if you want to be successful on professional social media platforms.

Strictly promotional items like this should only be shared by law firm social media company pages. I do not recommend that the individual ranked lawyers share the posts to congratulate themselves but rather they can share the posts from the firm accounts and follow the steps I outline in this article for how to take a more creative and humble approach to sharing recent awards and rankings. 

PPS – Everyone knows that while clients are the ones who provided the feedback for Chambers, no lawyer with a sound mind would never give a reference who wouldn’t speak highly of them or who wouldn’t return the researchers’ calls in the first place.

And PPPS – in-house counsel increasingly say that the legal rankings are not why they select outside counsel. In fact, they don’t even factor it into their buying decisions. Word of mouth referrals mean a lot more than vanity directory listings. Even a Google search for a lawyer with particular expertise is often more powerful than being listed in a particular band in a guide.

Think about that for a minute, because your marketing people or outside consultants are spending a lot of time compiling these submissions on your behalf. So is it really worth it? 

Sure, being included on these lists is nice, especially among your competitors, and you certainly wouldn’t want to fall off of a Chambers list or another similar ranking if you were already on one, but if you are weighing how to allocate time and money, this isn’t where I would spend it. Instead, dedicate your marketing to client development, attorney training, lead generation and content marketing efforts.

One of the benefits of going through the legal guides process is that you wind up building a matter database of sorts – which is great for pitches and proposals, and lawyer bios and practice area descriptions as well as other miscellaneous projects that come up where you need to include updated matters.

Of course you may disagree with me on the value of being ranked in legal guides like Chambers. I think times have changed and their power is just not what it used to be 5 or 10 years ago but of course there are exceptions. The one thing I do feel strongly about is that if you know you don’t have a shot of being ranked, don’t waste your time completing the submission forms. Your time and your marketing team’s time is valuable – so use it wisely.

June is Pride Month, which offers companies an opportunity to celebrate, show support and raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ rights on their social media channels.

Businesses of all kinds and sizes can get involved, raise awareness and give back for Pride Month regardless of their budget or reach.

While Pride is most definitely a celebration, a successful Pride campaign should have education and awareness at its core.

Celebrating Pride and showing your support for the LGBTQIA+ community is not a trend— and it shouldn’t be treated as such. If you’re simply posting rainbow branded imagery or tweeting to “get in” on the important conversations happening this month, you’re likely being disrespectful. Make sure your company can really walk the walk.

Here’s how to create and implement an impactful and genuine Pride Month social media campaign at your company.

Continue Reading How to Create an Impactful and Genuine Pride Month Social Media Campaign for Your Company

Hashtags on LinkedIn can help you discover topics and interests most relevant to you, and give you the opportunity to engage with them.

All hashtags start with a # sign, followed by a keyword or phrase. Some examples of hashtags include: #SocialMedia or #LawFirmRecruiting.

When you create an update to share with your network from your LinkedIn homepage, you can add your own hashtag by typing # and the word or phrase directly in your post. You can also click on # add hashtag at the bottom of the share box and type your desired hashtag. Recommended hashtags from LinkedIn will automatically be suggested when you compose your hashtag.

Hashtags can be used anywhere in your post to share a video, article or document but I think it’s best to put them at the end of the post to make it easier for your readers to view the content of your post. Hashtags in comments or within articles won’t show up in hashtag feeds at this time. Learn more about using hashtags in your articles.

 

By following hashtags of personal interest, you’ll start seeing relevant updates in your feed that include those hashtag topics.

Find hashtags from search bar:

    1. Enter the hashtag you’d like to find in the Search bar at the top of the page. For example: #TimeManagement
    2. Click on a hashtag will take you to the hashtag’s feed where you can see content related to the hashtag topic.
    3. Click the Follow button to follow the hashtag.
      • You can also click See all results for “#hashtag” from the search dropdown menu and then select Content from the top left of the page, below the search bar, to view posts that mention the hashtag.

Here are some other ways to find new hashtags to follow:

  • Click on a hashtag that you’re interested in from your feed and click on the Follow button at the top of the page, under the hashtag name.
  • Click Discover more under Followed Hashtags on the bottom of the left rail on your LinkedIn homepage to see a recommended list of popular hashtags related to the hashtags you follow.
  • Click the  More icon on a post that interests you and click  Improve my feed to get a list of recommended hashtags to follow.
  • Click the  My Network icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and scroll to the bottom to see hashtags trending in your network.

For each method, click the Follow button to follow the hashtag.

Once you’ve followed a hashtag, you’ll be able to manage it from your LinkedIn homepage.

To manage the hashtags you follow:

  1. Click Show more under Followed Hashtags on the bottom of the left rail of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Click See all at the bottom of the list of hashtags.

If you’d like to unfollow a hashtag, click  Following below the hashtag you’d like to unfollow. If you change your mind, click  Follow to begin following the hashtag again.

If you find yourself struggling for what to post on your LinkedIn Company Page and how to boost engagement and how to get more followers for your page, I have some ideas for any size company – especially smaller and mid-size law firms.

Every organization has many assets that can repurposed as social media content. For example:

  • Turn practice descriptions and attorney bios into individual posts
  • Past event photos can be turned into TBT or FBF posts
  • Celebrate superstar employees with posts about their accomplishments
  • Old photos can become history posts
  • Turn complex info into an infographic with Canva
  • Past client alerts can be reposted by highlighting a quote or a statistic
  • Feature employees and alumni in “get to know” Q&A posts.
  • Post links to key sections on your site (recruiting/diversity/pro bono) with teaser text
  • One of my favorite tricks is to take a transcription of a webinar (you can easily get a transcription of your Zoom webinars right on Zoom) and turn it into other forms of content such as a key takeaways piece, a social media quote post or even a white paper.

Engaging your employees is key to these efforts – they are your brand ambassadors. Tap into their valuable social media networks by encouraging and training them to share content from your LinkedIn Company page. You should also include a link to the LinkedIn Company page each employee’s email signature.

The possibilities are endless if you are a bit creative. The bottom line is to let your content work harder and smarter for you, and get your employees to help in the efforts as your strongest brand ambassadors.

Remember that we all start from scratch when it comes to building our social media presence, our business and our brand. Me included.

It’s never been more important to be on social media for branding and business development than of us today. The world is forever changed after the pandemic. We will be using social much more after things go back to “normal.”

Learn from others on social but forge your own path. What’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for you. I may share more about myself than you would but that’s ok.

Be authentic and find what works for you. Don’t brag here. Be humble. Post content that helps others.

I have clients doing this for the 1st time in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So it’s never too late or too early!

So where do you start?

  1. Make a list of topics to write about that really interest you. Look at what others writing about for inspiration and gaps.
  2. Think about what will make you stand out and what can you offer others? How can you help others?
  3. Build your network so that when you’re ready to post you have a strong audience. Comment on others’ posts to foster community.
  4. Pick the right channels – you don’t need to be on every social channel. Only focus on the ones where your clients and prospects are. Be strategic.
  5. Learn how to use hashtags and how to create custom images (I use Canva.com). You’ll need both of these to enhance your reach and visibility.
  6. Dive in! Post consistently and don’t obsess about the number likes you have at first. Just show up, be confident and build your audience. The algorithm of LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels favors content producers who are active and who regularly post.
  7. Use analytics to refine your content strategy – which posts do well/not so well so you can refine your content strategy.

There are so many people using social media and other tools to build their brands and business so why not you? And why not start today? It works!

Download the social media to-do checklist.

So I recently did a thing. A rather big thing for the first time. I got a car. It was kind of a big deal to me because I’m in my early 40s, and I haven’t had a car since I was in my late teens because I have lived in Manhattan for most of my adult life. Having a car wasn’t a necessity because of where I lived and the fact that most of my significant other or close friends had a car.

I made a decision to get my own car when I realized that with two rambunctious puppies it actually was a necessity plus I leave the city every weekend.

Choosing the kind of car that was right for me and my lifestyle was the first step. I knew really nothing about cars. I knew that I wanted an SUV because I am the most comfortable in a bigger car and I knew that it needed to be an all-wheel drive car. Everything else was negotiable.

I also knew that I did not want to be upsold by a car salesman. You hear stories about how it can be tricky to negotiate with car dealers but times have really changed.

Just like in the legal industry, relationships are everything. So when I was looking for someone to help me buy a car, I asked around to my friends, family, colleagues and clients about the kinds of cars they drove and once I determined the brand that I wanted, which was an Audi, I did a lot of due diligence to find a dealer that someone knew. I did not want to go into a dealership blindly as a woman.

It turned out that one of my clients lives next door to an Audi salesman who worked in Milburn, New Jersey – lucky for me! Joe Sasso was terrific. He took really good care of me from the moment we first started texting to the moment he sent me off in my brand new car with an Audi first-aid kit in the trunk. He’s even putting on my permanent license plates for me this weekend.

Joe made the process very smooth as did his team, especially the finance manager Asish who helped me with car insurance, and the lease approval and paperwork. Every single form I had to fill out was done electronically with an iPad and within minutes. It was quick and efficient. That’s putting the customer first as we also do in professional services marketing.

The DCH Milburn Audi dealership made the entire car leasing process as stress free and easy as possible for me.

When I picked up the car, the gas tank was full, it was pristine in terms of being newly washed and the dealership sent me off with a smile and a selfie as you can see.

Sometimes it’s not about relationships and it’s about basic marketing tactics and a good website, lead gen forms, and of course a good product.

One of my clients recounted a story to me about how she was in the market for an electric SUV, and so she went online and filled out a form at a few dealerships and only one person got back to her in a timely manner.

He asked her if she wanted to take a test drive, which she did later that day, and he wound up closing the deal.

Some of the dealers she messaged never even bothered to get back to her. So sometimes it’s about simply being responsive. And in sales that is such a simple yet essential function.

So I guess the moral of the story is that everything in life is really about relationships, Word of mouth, marketing, putting your best foot forward at all times, following up, making the process easy and efficient for your customer, having a quality product and responsiveness.

Let’s all make sure that we abide by these principles every day and everything that we do professionally as well.

PS – If anyone can teach me some tricks about parallel parking correctly, please send me a message!

Visit the DCH Milburn Audi Dealership.

For over 20 years, Edie Reinhardt has worked with professional service firms to increase their name recognition, position themselves as industry experts and stand out from the competition. In particular, she specializes in helping law and accounting firms market and grow their business.

Prior to starting her business, she practiced law at a mid-sized law firm and worked in editorial, marketing and business development roles within professional media companies. Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile.

Continue Reading Women Who Wow: Edie Reinhardt

I keep seeing lawyers post on LinkedIn about their recent Chambers rankings, and while there’s nothing wrong with posts like these, especially because we like to cheer on others’ successes, the mistake I see a lot of lawyers make in these posts is that they come off sounding boastful, formulaic and formal.

Not to mention, they all sound the same, (which is a common problem in our industry when it comes to content such as bios).

They start with “I’m honored to be ranked by. Chambers…“ I’m once again ranked in Chambers…” or “I’m proud to be included in Chambers…”

The issue is that these are all about YOU. Your posts should be client-centric even when the focus is on YOUR accomplishments.

With posts like these I like to invoke the “humblebrag approach.” This involves citing the achievement while also not sounding too boastful and thanking your colleagues, clients and others who helped make it possible.

I also recommend you share the post mentioning your honor from your firm’s LinkedIn company page – it seems less self-promotional when you share it from a third-party.

So what if you told a story about one of the significant matters over the year that helped you become Chambers ranked? (You don’t have to name actual client names of course).

Or the teamwork that was involved in a deal getting done collaboratively?

Or the Herculean efforts of a round the clock support team during the pandemic that enabled you to seamlessly complete a big matter?

These are the kinds of stories that resonate. Remember you don’t have to tell anyone how great you are. It is implicit. The idea is to show versus tell.

Another idea is to talk about why you became a lawyer or someone who influenced your career and helped you along the way. Discussing your background enables your connections to get to know you on a deeper level and enables you to stand out.

Another idea is to talk about why you became a lawyer or someone who influenced your career and helped you along the way. Discussing your background enables your connections to get to know you on a deeper level and enables you to stand out. Authenticity is key to being successful on LinkedIn.

So congrats to all of the Chambers ranked lawyers and the legal marketing professionals who tirelessly put together those submissions – it’s no easy feat! I celebrate all of you.