At every stage of your career, there is a case to be made that you need to market yourself and that you need to pay attention to traditional and social networking. It is never too early and it is never too late.
Well, let’s discuss because I have thoughts about this for lawyers at every stage of their careers.
Listen or Read…Your Choice
If you would like to listen to this via my 9-minute, 3-second (faster if you speed up my voice in the controls) podcast episode, just press the green play button below, or click here if you are reading this via email. If you prefer to read this via blog post, I have rewritten the podcast to a blog post below for you.
Do You Invest As Much In Associate Training?
Many times, I am called in to do LinkedIn training for partners, and the thought process is that partners are the rainmakers in the firm. They are the ones responsible for bringing in new business.
It is also important for associates to be learning. That can be challenging because they are busy helping to do the work, doing the research, and helping produce the work product requested by partners. This means they are very busy and not always available to work through this area of marketing and business development. This can sometimes cause the investment in associate training to be less than robust.
There are many exceptions as more and more firms are investing in associates, so please don’t take this as a blanket statement. There are so many shining examples of firms that are paying attention to lawyers and investing in them at every stage. You know who you are, and I applaud you and thank you for our work together.
But for those who are not yet investing in associate training and development, please remember that associates are your future rainmakers.
Associates, It’s Time
Associates, you might be thinking, well, my firm isn’t going to invest in me, so what am I supposed to do? My message to you is that you need to invest in yourself because you are a future owner of your firm. You are a future rainmaker, if not a current rainmaker, because you have the ability to bring business to your firm, and you have the ability to make a difference and make an impact on the bottom line.
You would have to be living under a rock (I know WFH during COVID has felt that way), never seeing another human being, never talking to people, never texting with them, never emailing with them, and never calling them to not be a candidate for bringing in new business to your firm.
What this means is that you need to take the bull by the horns and decide that you are going to put yourself out there.
What Is The Cost Of Networking?
It doesn’t take thousands of dollars to put yourself out there, to share your thought processes, to share your brilliance with the world. Social and digital media platforms are free or low-cost. You can invest in the paid versions of just about everything if you want, but you don’t have to yet.
The largest investment is your time. When networking and having conversations on digital platforms, time is your biggest investment, and it is definitely worth something.
After all, you bill X number of dollars per hour so, yes, you are making an investment of your time. It is important to remember that it will pay off because you are sharing your knowledge and building your reputation so that other people understand what you do. This is the long game part of networking and personal brand-building.
What About Partners?
Partners, if you haven’t spent time learning these tools and developing relationships online, I suggest that now is a good time to start. I understand there might be a fear of failure or a fear of new technology. I hear those concerns on a regular basis. That is natural. I understand that, but I also understand that those hurdles can be jumped over, so you might want to do your best to jump over them because you are the owners of your firms. You are responsible for helping the firm get the word out about what the firm does.
Although it is challenging in many cases, you are also responsible for cross-selling what your colleagues do, and for helping your clients and potential clients understand the depth and breadth of the work that is done at your firm, even if it’s not something you do yourself.
If you meet somebody and you don’t let them know that someone in your firm can help them and they end up working with another firm, you may never get that person as a client in the future. However, if you do them the favor of helping them find someone skilled, qualified, and knowledgeable to solve their challenges, you increase the chances of earning their business or having them refer business to you.
Some lawyers tell me they don’t know enough about what others in the firm do. If that is the case, I suggest you spend time getting to know other professionals, teams, and groups in your firm to better understand what they do.
As awkward as that might sound and feel, don’t ever be afraid to ask. People love to talk about what they do. Most will be honored that you want to take the time to learn about their practice. You can start by reading practice area descriptions on your firm’s website. I look at them all the time, and I’m confident you can gain basic knowledge about what other practice areas do. This is the start of your conversation with others.
I encourage you to:
- Take time and figure out how to talk about what you do
- Figure out ways to share your knowledge, and
- Figure out how best to communicate and network with the people who can have an impact on you and your business
These are important because you have a responsibility as an owner, as a future owner, or simply as a professional of your firm to keep your business healthy and to help keep the firm healthy.
Senior Partners, Are You Exempt?
Senior partners, you might be thinking…You know what? I’ve been around a long time and I don’t need to do any of this.
That’s fine. I encourage you to remember how your business became so healthy. You did great work, yes, but you also built your reputation and your relationships via networking and visibility, and by letting people know what you do for a living.
You put yourself out there. You were involved in community and trade organizations. You shared your knowledge with other people. All of that and so much more caused your clients to come into the firm. If you are in this category, and your practice is healthy, please don’t give up on networking with people just yet.
Continue networking with people the way you always have but be open to networking with them and with others deep in their organization by using a few new tools that will help accelerate those relationships. Remember that not all clients stay in the same position, or in the same company, forever. If they move on, I want to see your reputation embedded so deeply in that company that those who move into positions of power can’t imagine doing business with anyone else.
It is important to remember that people of every age are searching Google to check you out. If you have no presence, or a sparse one, it will be obvious to them.
Keep in mind that there are always others who are trying to steal your business by forming relationships with your loyal clients. By staying close to your clients via online and offline networking, you can help nurture and solidify those loyal relationships.
Social Networking Complements In-Person Networking
If you are accustomed to traditional, in-person networking, I will never encourage you to give up traditional networking and to move to online networking alone (unless you are unable, or we are somehow forbidden to see others in-person, but this pandemic won’t last forever). These two types of networking work together.
Social and digital networking complement in-person networking and in-person networking complements social and digital networking.
My Message For Lawyers At Every Stage
No matter what level you are in your career, I encourage you to pay attention to, and to become familiar and comfortable with, networking online and offline, sharing your knowledge, and not being afraid to interact with others.
Don’t let the assumption that this is the wrong time in your career hold you back. Connecting with other human beings who are important to you and to the strength of the firm and your practice is too important.
Necessity and Responsibility
It is no longer a luxury but a necessity and a responsibility to communicate when and where others are spending time because the health of the firm and of your practice depend on you.
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing and Business Development Advisor, specializing in Content, Social & Digital Media. She helps lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines in order to establish relationships and grow their practices. Also known as the LinkedIn Coach For Lawyers, she is a frequent LinkedIn trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement content, social and digital media strategies that cut through the clutter and are more relevant to their current and potential clients. Nancy also works with many firms and lawyers on Zoom and virtual presentation training and coaching to be the best they can be when presenting online.
As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasting, video marketing, voice marketing, livestreaming, and Zoom and virtual presentation strategy and training. She also helps lead select law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases.
If you would like to reserve time to begin talking strategy or think through an issue you are having, you can do that here.