I’m back from the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Atlanta where I presented a workshop and was a one of the LMA Facebook Live correspondents (you can watch the videos on the LMA International Facebook page), and I have so much to share and report back to y’all about (yes, I picked up a little Georgia twang in my everyday vernacular that I haven’t been able to quite yet shake). I’ve got a lot of actionable takeaways for firms of all sizes and legal marketers of all levels to share, including a recap of the best general counsel panel that I’ve attended in years. But first, I wanted to let y’all (there it is again!) know about an upcoming LMA webinar that I’m presenting in a couple of weeks.

If you missed my LMA Conference workshop with fellow LMA Social & Digital Media SIG co-chair Jennifer Carr last week on to leverage your social and content marketing efforts for business development and client retention, we have good news! The LMA is offering a shortened webinar of our program for members with key takeaways from this session as well as the top social and digital media highlights from the entire #LMA19 conference on May 7 at noon CT/1pm ET with martech pioneer Jacqueline Madarang who will provide her own insights. Learn more and register for the webinar. You can also purchase the conference recordings, which will give you access to all of the programs in their entirety from the LMA conference, including my workshop on the LMA 2019 Conference web site.

The LMA Annual Conference is almost here and I can’t wait! I’m excited to learn new things, reunite with friends and to bring back new ideas to my firm. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can maximize my time away from the office (missing three full work days is stressful especially when you work at a small firm like I do) and use the conference as an opportunity to not only learn and network, but also to build my professional brand. There are so many things that any attendee can do – regardless of whether or not they have a speaking role – to build their profile at this conference or any professional event.

So how do you get the most out of your conference experience and maximize your time out of the office while raising your profile?

I’ve gone to the LMA Annual Conference for many years, and through my experiences, I have some thoughts on what you should and shouldn’t do when you go to the conference. I’ve put together some tips in this JD Supra article. I hope you find them helpful, and I look forward to seeing everyone in Atlanta!

Also, I’ll be presenting a workshop session on Wednesday, April 10 at 1:30pm on “Beyond Branding: Aligning Social Media Strategy With Business Development Goals” that will delve into how to take your social media efforts to the next level and use content and social to drive revenue and bring in business and engage with clients. Also, look for me and Andrew Laver and Rob Kates behind the camera as we once again bring you Facebook Live coverage from #LMA19 with an expanded reporting team.

It’s great to have a large number of connections on LinkedIn, but if the relationship never leaves the site, what’s the point? Create connections that matter, remember to always focus on the quality of the relationships – not the quantity!

Here are five tips on how to easily turn online connections into offline business:

  1. Build online rapport and relationships by following people you admire on Twitter, retweeting their content, liking and commenting on their statuses. Do the same on LinkedIn with their content and status updates. Supporting others helps you build a strong network.
  2. Post a status update on LinkedIn in advance of any travel to another city for work or for a conference so you can easily connect in person with others in the area. It also gives you the opportunity to promote any speaking engagements you have or exciting opportunities in other cities – just remember to always “humblebrag” – meaning, don’t sound overboastful and try not to pat yourself too hard on the back.
  3. Regularly write content that is valuable to your connections and share it on social media with brief introductory text on why they should read it. Consider highlighting a few key points in your synopsis to catch their attention and always use an eye-catching visual to accompay your post.
  4. Be generous – like and share others’ posts and congratulate others on their successes, especially your VIP connections. While they may not be ready to hire a lawyer at this moment, they will likely be in that position in the future. When they reach that point, you will be top of mind.

Interested in learning more? Join me and Jennifer Simpson Carr on Wednesday, April 10 at 1:30pm at the #LMA19 Conference for our immersive workshop on Beyond Branding: Aligning Social Media Strategy With Business Development Goals! I hope to see some friendly faces in the audience.

In this short video, I show how to use Canva, one of my favorite tools for bringing content to life with visuals for little time or cost, using the recent winners of the JD Supra 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Remember, visuals make your readers stop and pay attention. Without them, your content can fall flat and just doesn’t “pop” as much as it could if it had a compelling visual to highlight something in it. There’s a reason why they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Images resonate – they help your audience remember things. They also enable you to better reinforce your brand and get your firm name in the market more in this competitive market.

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.

All you need to do is upload the image(s) and logo(s) you want to use, choose either a pre-existing or blank template (I used the Twitter-sized one because it will fit perfectly on most social platforms used by professional service firms). For whatever reason, Canva does not yet offer a LinkedIn-sized image template, but it’s easy to create one either using the Twitter one, which seems to work just fine, or just type in the image specs for an optimal LinkedIn post, which you can easily get on an online social media cheat sheet.

Your job is to then play with moving around the graphic elements to create something visually arresting. You can also add a headline and captions, and change the background color. If I can do it, I promise that you can do it too! This image took me 5 minutes to make and while it’s not perfect, it does the visual trick.

So download Canva on your phone and sign up on your desktop today and play around with it – it really is a wonderful and easy to use tool to help you take your design skills to the next level.

Let me know what you think of the video!

As you all know, I am a huge believer in the power of social media – that it can amplify your brand in so many powerful and wonderful ways, and lead to new business and clients. But it also has a dark side. And we keep seeing how social media can be detrimental to one’s brand, especially when it comes to how we feel about politics or controversial news topics. Individuals can do serious damage to their brands and reputations by publicly commenting on social media about such charged subjects, sometimes even resulting in the loss of their jobs.

Hayley Geftman-Gold was fired from her job as an in-house CBS lawyer for making in 2017 remarks on Facebook that essentially alluded to the fact that she was unsympathetic to  the victims killed in the Las Vegas shooting because they were “country music fans” and therefore likely Republican. It was a very unfortunate, stupid and probably a heat of the moment comment, and someone screenshotted what she said, leading to the end of her career. She was harassed on social media and has essentially disappeared online. I don’t know Hayley, but from her social media footprint, you can see that she is a married mom of two kids, and I imagine that if she could take back what she said in that moment, she would. Although, she never issued a public apology or said a peep online, which I think is a very big mistake. If you make a mistake, own it, apologize, make amends and move on. Her silence was just as damaging as her incredibly hurtful words.

I was inspired to write this post by my good friend Nancy Myrland’s great insights in her article, “You Damage More Than Your Own Personal Brand With Bad Online Behavior.”

She notes, “As a reminder, your personal brand is the way you do business, the way you act when you come in contact with others, and the behavior that is so consistent there is no question in others’ minds what you will be like when they see you online and offline. It is your brand. Whether you are deliberate about its definition and execution or not, you have one.”

Preach Nancy!

My favorite part of Nancy’s blog post is the following excerpt about lawyers and law firms having a serious responsibility when it comes to the tools we can use to communicate information.

  • “You need to let people of all ages, positions, and levels know your expectations.
  • You need to define your firm’s brand, then communicate it over and over to everyone on a regular basis.
  • You need to help them define their personal brands.
  • You need to help legal and business professionals feel comfortable using the tools they have in front of them.
  • You need to understand that being a digital native or a digital adopter doesn’t mean there is a built-in understanding, or lack thereof, regarding how to use social media intelligently. Age is not a factor in determining online intelligence.
  • You need to address the fine line that exists between personal and professional use of social and digital media. That line is fading.
  • You need to be aware and focused on all of this because damage to individual or firm brands is not worth the lack of your attention to these details.”

All of the above is why many firms require their employees sign social media policies. While having a signed social media policy by each of your employees or asking them to offer a disclaimer on their social profiles such as “these are my own personal views and do not reflect those of my employer” does not always stop bad online behavior, it does deter it and it does protect the firm to a degree.

The best thing to protect your firm and your employees against the dark side of social media is to educate, educate, educate. So, offer social media trainings – lunch and learn programs – and do deskside trainings with each lawyer and staff member. Set up Google searches on the lawyers at your firms. Make sure they know the downsides of social media and the potential irreparable harm it can cause to their brands and their business.

There are countless stories of lawyers talking too loudly about confidential client matters on planes, trains, automobiles and in elevators or posting details on social media about where they are for work, and others being able to piece together information on what they are working. Big deals have blown up because of this – don’t ever put yourself in this position. Again, checking yourself into a cool location on Facebook or posting a photo of yourself in a fun bar in a hip city on Instagram is not worth if it you do not have a job when you land.

Lawyers, and anyone who has clients, need to exercise the uttmost care and caution at all times when revealing any details regarding the nature of their work. Do not leave your phone unlocked or papers lying around if you are around groups or if you live with others. Do not take client calls on speaker phone. You need to think about confidentiality every second of every day.

As Nancy says, “Don’t be the next case study about how one of your people blew up in public, tarnishing their name and reputation, as well as your firm’s.” I’m with Nancy. At the end of the day, getting in the last word, or making a comment just to say your peace, it’s just not worth it.

Speaking at a conference has many benefits – it helps you build your brand, establish yourself as a subject-matter expert, increase your professional network and open doors that can lead to new connections, jobs, referrals and so much more.

Kara McKenna and I had the good fortune of serving as co-programming co-chairs of the 2018 LMATech Midwest Conference. We learned about innovations taking place within our industry and those legal marketers who are leading them. We also picked up some helpful skills on what makes a compelling speaking submission and the reverse of that – what does not.

After reading through more submissions than we can count, we felt like we were in a position to give pointers on how potential speakers can make themselves stand out from the pack. They can be used for any conference submission. We hope you find them helpful!

Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know, which I don’t accept, because, well I don’t know them and they’re usually trying to pitch something to me.  But one caught my eye because his name was listed so unconventionally. 

DRUM ROLL – he included a grape emoji before and after his name. Yes, a grape emoji. Actually two grape emojis. I’m pausing now for emphasis. He was in the wine business so at least the fruit-themed emoji was somewhat relevant, but using emojis in your LinkedIn profile, especially in your name, is a big no no. I think they are unnecessary and take away from the overall big picture of YOU. Instead, let your profile’s powerful words describe you. They also don’t always translate visually to desktop, which is how many people still use LinkedIn. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your online resume. Don’t be trite or silly in it. Think gravitas. Perhaps in a creative field, an emoji may work, but what if you turn off someone? It’s just not worth it.

For me, the only place on LinkedIn where an emoji might be acceptable would be in a comment, and even there, you’d need to exercise caution on which ones you chose to use and how many you selected. It is my opinion  that no matter how blurry the lines are getting between personal and professional, I still don’t think that emojis are the right symbols to help visually convey aspects of your professional brand on this platform. There are so many more effective ways to do it – but again, this is just my opinion and others in more creative fields can feel free to disagree.

I thought it would be a good idea to post my JD Supra article on LinkedIn don’ts and add a #51 – don’t use emojis on LinkedIn especially in the listing of your actual name. Read on for more LinkedIn don’ts: Read on for more LinkedIn don’ts.

Today, networking online is just as important as networking in person. And in the professional world, LinkedIn continues to be the most important social media channel for business development. It enables you to quickly build and grow relationships, strengthen your brand and stay top of mind with key individuals in your professional network regardless of where they live. LinkedIn also gives you a treasure trove of valuable competitive intelligence, which can help you gain a serious advantage over your competitors.

I know that many of you have LinkedIn profiles but you aren’t maximizing the platform because you’re busy, or you don’t know really how to use it or you just aren’t convinced that it’s worth your time. Let me assure you that it is 100% worth your time especially given that we have five generations in the workforce right now and clients are getting younger and are using social media more frequently.

In fact, to further underscore the importance of the social network, your LinkedIn profile is often the first or second Google search result when someone searches for you online. In addition, LinkedIn is free and easy to use.

To show you just how easy (and beneficial) it is to use, here are some quick and easy examples of actions you can take today to more meaningfully engage with your connections, strengthen your brand, position yourself as a subject matter expert and bring in leads:  Continue Reading Why You Should Say Yes to LinkedIn (and Four Easy Ways to Engage With Your Connections)

I recently achieved two major professional successes by putting myself out there and asking for them. I know it sounds a bit, well, basic, but I felt really good about going out on a limb and seizing the right moment to make a big ask in each of these situations.

So often, we are afraid of the word “no” and of rejection that we don’t put ourselves out there to even ask for what we want or to pursue a great idea in the first place, and that is a huge mistake and missed opportunity. Stop being afraid. Do what makes you uncomfortable. Say yes to taking chances. Not everything in life is going to easily come to you and sometimes you are going to have to  get out of your comfort zone and ask for what you want. While you won’t always get it, often these are the times in which we grow and learn the most about ourselves.

Here are a few tips on how to ask and get what you want:

  • Be sincere – there is nothing, I repeat, nothing, more compelling than a passionate request on why someone should help someone or do something. Pour your professional heart into this.
  • Don’t over ask – be realistic in what you are asking for and practical.
  • Explain what’s in it for them – so by this, I mean clearly outline how the person who is on the receiving end of your ask will benefit from what you want.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again! There could be a million reasons why someone declines a particular opportunity or says no to you at that moment in time.No is not forever and it is not personal.

While you’ll hear much more about these two successes soon (they’re still under wraps!), I just wanted to post something about the the fact that life is short, and we all need to seize the moments and opportunities before us more frequently to get what we want and to help steer us along the right paths. No is not necessarily a bad word to hear – it just means that it wasn’t the right choice for you and that situation at that particular moment in time.

The reason why I wrote this was because sometimes I feel like so many of us just never bother to ask for what we want or try for things because we think they are out of our grasp. If you believe that you can do it and that anything is possible, it will be. So shift your mindset and watch how things change right before you. And get stay tuned for two big announcements!

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an interview series with the Legal Marketing Association where they asked some of the speakers of the upcoming LMA19 conference to respond to questions on why they submitted to speak at the LMA Annual Conference, what they hope attendees will learn from their presentation, what they think are the keys for success for legal marketers today and which other sessions they are most excited to attend. Here are my responses. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in Atlanta on April 8-10, and I hope you will join me and Jennifer Carr for our deep-dive workshop session on April 10 at 1:30pm on “Beyond Branding: Aligning Social Media Strategy With Business Development Goals.” Learn more about the sessionContinue Reading Here’s a Sneak Peek Into my 2019 LMA Annual Conference Session in This Q&A