I hate trolling the cocktail party circuit as a form of marketing, and frankly, tend to view those who honestly enjoy such events with a little bit of suspicion. To me, that circuit is a contrived and often shallow form of marketing oneself. If you have a similar opinion, don’t despair because there are many other marketing opportunities to help build your law practice.
Today’s marketing darling is social media. Using the most general definition, social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. When that interactive dialogue is focused on generating business opportunities, social media becomes social networking. LinkedIn is, perhaps, the most well-known site devoted to social networking, but others, such as PartnerUp and Virtual LegalTech, are creating interesting new twists on the idea for legal professionals.
Does social media work as a form of marketing for lawyers? I agree with an article I just read at TheLawyerist.com. Lawyers always seem to come late to the tech party, regardless of the tech topic at hand. We lawyers must do better. Whether you like it or not, social media will be the primary way that lawyers market their practices in 5 years’ time. If it is done right, like any form of marketing, it will work.
Personally, I find social networking far less contrived or shallow than the cocktail party circuit. Best of all, as a general rule, social media is far less costly than many forms of traditional marketing. And, no cocktail party – unless, maybe, you create a virtual one.
If you are new to social media, but are interested in learning more about it, there is a conference on October 21 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. If you are not near enough to attend in person, you can attend remotely. For those of you interested in more information or registering for the conference, follow this link which I received courtesy of MyLegal.com.
I am consistently amazed at how many lawyers snub their noses at volunteer work as a form of business networking. Volunteer work absolutely will generate a return on investment (ROI) if you don’t over-commit. For example, consider volunteering at a legal aid clinic where you can get your name into the public arena without lassoing yourself full-time to one of those cases that never seems to end. When I started my practice, I gave a couple of hours here and there to various agencies, Legal Aid, the local Council on Aging, AIDS charities, animal rights organizations, among others. Each one returned at least one paying client either directly or word-of-mouth referral from someone I counseled at a clinic or other meeting.
Even if these activities do not generate a paying client, however, they are important in today’s marketing world as part of lawyer “branding.” When you have a minute or two, peruse some lawyer websites or blogs. One thing you will notice is that lawyers are branding themselves more and more as approachable “human beings.” Fewer sites sport the scales and gavel motif or the predictable Supreme Court facade. Letting potential clients know that you are active and interested in their community may make the difference between whether a paying client chooses you or your competitor.
Become An Educator
I was fortunate to attend law school at Golden Gate University, where a practical legal education was combined with theoretical. Through that approach, I was able to take a course called Law Practice Management which covered issues such as networking opportunities. One networking opportunity that was strongly encouraged, and which I decided to pursue, was teaching. Consistently, teaching has returned not only great personal reward to me, but it has also generated many paying clients.
I am probably repeating myself here – but I strongly believe that lawyers function, in part, as community educators. It is our responsibility to help our communities understand their legal rights and obligations. We are not just “facilitators” as Justice Scalia remarked. To fulfill that responsibility, you can easily set up local seminars for seniors, immigrants, veterans, or others through community centers. Some civic organizations sponsor speaking opportunities about legal topics that might be excellent to show off your interest and expertise.
If you want to take this approach a step further, consider teaching law school or paralegal classes. Teaching in these more structured environments generally provide some financial remuneration, too.
Share Your Marketing Success Story
If you have other non-traditional marketing ideas or success stories to share, please share them. Despite advances in technology that make social media possible, many new lawyers still envision the cocktail party circuit as the primary means of marketing themselves. It would be nice to hear how others have done it differently.
Oh, heck, if you just work that cocktail party circuit like nobody’s business, let’s hear from you, too. If you’re reading this, you’re “good people” to me!
- 10 reasons more lawyers and law firms are blogging (kevin.lexblog.com)
- Exclusive One-Day Conference Offers Lawyers a Chance to Fast Track Mastership of Legal Social Media (prweb.com)
- Do law firms need to measure ROI on social media? (kevin.lexblog.com)