Some lawyers love to network and cultivate new business; others hate it.
But every successful practitioner does it.
Here are your Marketing Practice Pointers for the third quarter of 2022, with a focus on networking and business development.
Your 2022 Law Firm Marketing Plan
Q3 – Networking and Business Development
1. Work your referral sources. Last quarter, you created a robust referral program for your practice. Now work the program. Stay in touch with your current clients, former clients, and top referrers. Always be on the lookout for new business opportunities. If you’re an introvert, no problem. The best networking is one-on-one.
2. Research potential networking targets. When you’ve found a promising contact – whether it’s an individual or a group – do some homework before reaching out to them. Look them up on Google. View their Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. Visit their website. Search for common ground. When you meet, you’ll be prepared to highlight common interests and ask relevant questions.
3. Follow the ethics rules. Review Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3 (Solicitation of Clients) and pertinent ethics opinions in your state or jurisdiction.
4. Join professional associations. Start with your state and local bar associations and branch out from there. Identify groups that match your demographic (young lawyers, senior lawyers, etc.). Attend meetings, speak at a seminar, volunteer for a committee.
5. Join community and civic groups. Getting involved will expand your social network and enhance your quality of life. Sign up for a charity or non-profit that is consistent with your values. Become a scout leader. Coach your daughter’s soccer team. Volunteer for a PTA committee. Pick up litter on Clean-Up Saturday. You’ll meet new people and establish a reputation as someone who cares – and shows up.
6. Go where your clients go. If you represent small businesses, join the local Chamber of Commerce. If you represent doctors and dentists, join a medical association or subscribe to healthcare industry publications.
7. Strengthen your EQ. When it comes to networking and building relationships, emotional intelligence is key. Empathy, patience, loyalty, trustworthiness and active listening will reap big dividends.
8. Create pitches. The elevator pitch – in which you describe who you are and what you do in a few seconds – has become a cliché. But it’s important nonetheless to be able to tell people clearly and succinctly why you’re the right person to help them with their legal problems.
9. Use proposals. Once you receive a nibble from a prospect, reel them in with a written proposal. This will show you understand their needs and have a coherent strategy for success. The proposal should include: (1) information about you and your firm; (2) your experience handling similar matters; (3) a projected timeline; (4) your fee and payment terms; and (5) links to your website and other information.
10. Retain an outside marketing firm. If you have room in your budget, consider hiring an outside consultant to help grow your practice. This will take the weight off your shoulders and let you do what you do best – practice law. But do your due diligence. Shop around. Ask other lawyers who have used a marketing firm for a referral. Choose one that understands the unique demands of a law firm and has had prior success working with lawyers.
11. Engage in public relations. Write press releases when you add a new lawyer, win a significant case, or open a branch office. Make yourself available to the press (Google the website HARO – Help a Lawyer Out) for expert commentary on legal matters. Give a talk at your local library on the importance of having a Will. Teach a class at the community college. Speak at Continuing Legal Education events to increase visibility and showcase your expertise.
12. Create a winning brand. Your brand starts with you and extends to pretty much everything you do and say publicly. Your law firm logo, website, advertisements, signage, About You page, letterhead, business cards, invoices and emails should be attractive and consistent in terms of style, theme and color scheme. Putting thought and care into these details will convey the message that you’re a thoughtful, caring lawyer.
13. Have a strong presence on LinkedIn. This is the preferred social media platform for lawyers and firms. If you choose to also use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, make sure your messaging on these platforms is consistent with your brand. Maintain a robust profile on Google My Business and Avvo. Use analytics to see what results you’re getting from these sources.
Bonus Practice Pointer: Create a networking and business development budget (which includes paid advertising) to guide your efforts.
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