After years of schooling, studying for exams and learning the ins-and-outs of lawyering, the last thing someone in our industry wants to hear is how we should learn more. But we don’t live in a static world, and being multifaceted allows you to be prepared. Two skills all lawyers should sharpen up on: marketing their brand and networking. While it may sound like work reserved for corporate suits climbing the ladder, learning these two skills are some of the easiest ways to build up your practice’s brand and drive success.
Sometimes marketing gets a bad rap, but it’s not all about cheesy commercials. Marketing helps your law firm attract more of the right type of clients. A good place to start when trying to market your firm is getting to know your current clients; what makes them tick. Why did they choose your representation over everybody else? What would they look for in a lawyer, and how can you present your practice in that way? From there, the rest is natural. Find out where your prospective clients are looking for representation, and target your unique messaging towards them. Here’s a few places to start:
According to Entrepreneur, “Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.” If you’re not sure what yours might be currently, Google yourself, and find out where your practice stands digitally. Do you come up (and for good reasons)? What is your practice associated with? Your brand is the connotation of your business. It does not want to come off as desperate, but rather professional and eager to help. This means professional photographs of you and your office, a professional answering machine and professional secretary. Target your audience the way you would like to be targeted.
Need more information? Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries is one of my favorite books on this topic.
Understanding the legal search process of modern clients is the best way to place yourself in front of them. Your website should have everything that any potential customer might be looking for: client testimonials, newspaper clippings, press releases and your face! Put a smile to that name, and people will already begin to trust you. Just be sure to watch out for these common mistakes we see lawyers make with their websites.
Social media can be a powerful tool for small law firms or solo-practitioners. Your social profile, whether it be Facebook or LinkedIn, is a window into your practice. Consider making these profiles a one-stop-shop for everything about your practice. And post about your practice too. News clippings, recent photos or industry news can all increase your visibility on social media.
For some law firms, going old school might be the best method. If your client base is not-so-tech-savvy, making sure they find you via traditional advertisements like TV or newspapers will help you reach them. It’s important to keep in mind the generational distinctions of how people get their information.
Networking today is a much more complicated process now that social media can connect millions of people in an instant. Many of the people you meet will probably be in a digital fashion, via some sort of online communication. You should still approach it as though you were at your college reunion.
- Make contact lists ahead of time, groups of people you want to talk to.
- Personally message those people after introducing yourself.
- Set up times to connect in person if possible. Grabbing a cup of coffee and talking shop can pay off in the long run.
- Always follow up with a friendly email after you personally meet. This will remind your contact of your sincerity and name.
LinkedIn is perhaps the strongest tool available to help network yourself and drive continued success. It’s a search engine for people and one way for you to target and meet the right contacts. Here you can establish yourself as a competitive professional by sharing interesting articles and leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s posts. Additionally, you can “mine” the profiles of your competitors to see what they do better than you, or what their contact list might look like.
According to Inc.com, creating groups on LinkedIn, at no cost to you, is a popular and effective way to reach out to people. You can send those in the group up to 15 messages a month.
These LinkedIn tactics described are all possible at the most basic, free level of a LinkedIn membership. If you’re willing to invest the money, the amount of paid marketing and advertising on this social platform is endless.
Learning these two skills can help your law firm grow predictably and ultimately help you succeed. To learn more about each of these subjects, check out the following resources: