What do the following names have in common?
Mark Zuckerberg, Henry Ford, Evel Kneivel, Larry Sonsini, Christopher Dolan, John Wayne, Gloria Steinem, George Lucas, Clarence Darrow, Jackie Robinson, and Martha Stewart.
When these names are mentioned we associate them with their feats and what makes them remarkable. To varying degrees this is what attorneys should think of when they think of their footprints in the marketplace. These people have done what I call “become their market.”
I strongly believe that becoming your market can be a key factor in your growth and success. Here are some measurable strategies, tactics and tips that I have seen work to help people accomplish this:
Be Active in Associations, Groups and Organizations
This applies to bar associations, your professional groups such as Chambers of Commerce, industry specific groups, and pro bono organizations. Take advantage of the myriad of member benefits available to you. Your personal involvement will pay off. Take it a step farther and set some goals for involvement. At the very least, join at least two groups before the end of 2012. As an example, if you are involved in intellectual property law, join the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA).
Once you have settled in as an active member, begin volunteering your time and talents. Do you love to write? Contribute articles to the associations’ newsletters. When there is a call for committee members, raise your hand and devote your time. If you are lucky enough to be comfortable with public speaking, get out at a meeting or a conference and display your expertise.
The point is to use your strengths and do what’s comfortable. I have found that serving on a committee really put me in the midst of people with whom I wanted to do business. I still have relationships with several committee members with whom I’ve served from more than ten years ago.
Use the Press to Your Advantage
After fifteen years in the legal press, I can attest to the advantages of becoming close with beat reporters and editors in your practice area. Reporters and editors truly value a consistent and reliable source, especially at 4:00 pm on the eve of a breaking story. One of my friends is a legal recruiter and she has appeared in the Bay Area legal press several times over the years to comment on career trends or offer her opinion on firm moves. A by-product of her availability is that her name and her company’s name have become top of mind.
In addition, once you are quoted more and more you can begin to use these articles as material for your own website, email newsletters, blogs and social media outlets.
Give Social Media Time & Attention
The future is now. If you are not getting involved with social media as a tool to increase business for you and your firm, you should know that it is highly likely that your clients and prospects are. Furthermore, the generation that is coming out of law school these last few years use social media as regularly as we used to use rotary phones.
Social media deserves its own article. For now I will offer some thoughts and tips on three of the more widely used tools.
There are more than 120 million people on LinkedIn. I often suggest that people concentrate on three areas within LinkedIn to maximize their activity and visibility. First, you should complete, update and maintain your individual profile. This includes requesting recommendations from people. Secondly, research the kinds of LinkedIn Groups you want to become involved with and join in. And lastly you should take advantage of the Company Pages on LinkedIn for your firm.
LinkedIn is constantly adding tools and features you can use to interact on either of these three levels of involvement. For instance, you can post an interesting article on your personal profile, ask and answer questions within your Groups, and even post a poll on your Company Page. One tip about Groups: if you don’t see a Group in your area of interest, LinkedIn makes it very easy to create your own.
Twitter, the famous microblogging service, is a social media platform where you can follow and be followed by whomever you wish, You are able to distribute, or tweet, messages, ask questions, post articles of interest and interact with clients and prospects as long as your messages are 140 characters or less. One person I follow must send out a dozen messages daily, and whenever I think of attorney blogging, his name comes to mind. What’s more, you can set up your Twitter feeds to appear on your LinkedIn home page as well, which provides much more exposure to you and your messages.
Of course, the ubiquitous Facebook platform is another way for you and your firm to get exposed to clients and prospects. I will admit that I think Facebook is more for personal and family life but I do know some attorneys and law firms that have devoted some time and energy to their Facebook pages.
Of course, nothing will trump providing excellent legal services. However, differentiation is a key factor in the competitive legal marketplace. I know attorneys, practice areas and firms will see results and “become their markets” if they implement a few of the above strategies and tactics.
Austin Holian has nearly 25 years of media and business development experience. Austin recently started Big Picture Business Development, focusing on helping attorneys, firms and legal service providers find the most effective and creative ways to get and remain in front of clients and prospects. Contact Austin at Austin@bigpicturebusinessdevelopment.com and (925) 849 2429
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