A common comment and justification for certain activities in the early stages of legal marketing was “because other firms are doing it.” I believe some firms still cling to that reasoning. Last week Otto Sorts, the curmudgeon of Attorney at Work fame, raised several questions about his firm’s focus on social media as part of a business development plan.

Relating to BizDev, he questioned what the firm wants to do, what does it want to happen, what tool is best suited to accomplish that, and what resources are required. His point being that social media should help answer those questions, or not.

Longtime readers would know that I’m not a big fan of social media because I just haven’t seen where it has made significant contributions to marketing and business development efforts of the firm. Granted it could be one to in the overall mix, but I am just not convinced that it makes significant enough contribution to overcome the disadvantages in my mind as a potential lawyer time waster. I could stand corrected but have been up to this point. I see social media being used more for self- promotion, rather than a social networking tool that leads to more business.

Some posts of mine include (unfortunately, a couple of links are broken):

Marketing and Social Media Survey Results

Since we are in the personal services business, I remain skeptical of social media as an effective tool of legal marketing. Clients hire lawyers they know, like or trust (or are referred by someone they do). I think that social media is too impersonal, remote and time-consuming as a business development tool to cross that…Continue Reading

Social Media Doesn’t Replace Face-to-Face Networking

More and more employers are finding that social media is an effective way to network. However it is not an excuse to sit at your desk and think that that is all there is to it. Social media can be and is for many an effective way to make friends connections and raise one’s profile….Continue Reading

Has Social Media Gotten Lawyers Out of Focus?

There is a very interesting article by Anthony Green in Law Practice Today which talks about Web 2.0, Web 1.0 and social media in general. Not being one completing sold on all the hype surrounding social media, I agree with several points Green raises about the need to get back to basics. He (and I)…Continue Reading

Is “Social Media” Networking’s Nirvana? Possibly Not!

According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore. Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let…Continue Reading

Should You Pay Attention To The Social Networking Craze?

Most everyone who has heard about the Internet, or has a child capable of educating them, has heard about social networks like MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. etc. etc. The “etc’s” are part of my point. There are new ones springing up almost every day. There is some question as to which one or two will be the…Continue Reading

Most importantly, what do you readers say?  Has social media produced significant legal business for you?

 

More and more employers are finding that social media is an effective way to network. However it is not an excuse to sit at your desk and think that that is all there is to it. Social media can be and is for many an effective way to make friends connections and raise one’s profile. However, it doesn’t replace the need for, or quite frankly, compare to the effectiveness of the face-to-face networking. Let me repeat that social media does not replace the need for face-to-face networking.

As I have often said lawyers are in the personal services business. You can only be so personable via social media.  Nothing replaces the face-to-face encounter when it comes to building truly meaningful relationships. At some point you need to take those new “friends” you met on social media and enhance the relationship by face-to-face meetings.

An online article by Dan Schawbel last year in Time’s Business & Money section entitled “Why Face-to-Face Networking Still Trumps Social Networking” remains right on.  I particularly liked the quote attributed to Sherry Turkle, an M.I.T professor, on the “sad state of affairs” due to the over reliance on social media.  She said “we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.”

A couple years ago I wrote a post entitled “Networking Requires Getting Off Your Duff!” which I still think is timely.  Also, it contains some common sense tips that might help you network face-to-face.  As I said at the time the tips are pretty straightforward, but we all need to be reminded occasionally on the kinds of things one needs to do in terms of networking.

Bottom line: don’t let social media replace the true benefits gained though face-to-face meetings.

In the early days of legal marketing (oh say 1986) most lawyers were not the least bit interested in the subject.  In fact, the “M” word was an anathema.  When it became acceptable to some law firms, individual marketing efforts were still avoided.  The best that can be said about it all was that firms started doing PR, then brochures, advertising, and eventually, web sites.  What I refer to as “institutional” marketing.  “Personal” or individual marketing efforts were still mainly avoided, except by the one or two firm rainmakers.

The reason was pretty simple, lawyers expected the firm to carry the ball and keep their plates full. Especially in large firms, the attorneys believed that the work would always be there, so why should they be doing something they hated.  They didn’t go to law school to learn to be a salesperson (errrrr, “business developer”). When the world changed and these non-producing lawyers were asked to leave for failure to bring in enough business to support themselves, much less other junior lawyers, some among their ranks began to wake up to the “neo-new normal”.

For the 17 years when I was an in-house marketing, I argued, with limited success, for lawyers to adopt “personal” marketing  efforts instead of relying solely on “institutional” marketing.  After all clients then and now mainly hire lawyers, not law firms, with some exceptions of course.  I have argued on this blog to that effect.  (See a couple of my posts below.)

Now, social media may have come to the rescue.  Clearly, lawyers are gaining recognition and a higher profile there. Certainly more than a firm’s website’s boring bios and practice pages, according to a post this week on UK Inbound Marketing Blog.  The post also reports on two law firms (Levenfield Pearlstein and Arent Fox) that are approaching social media in a “savvy way” with the use of videos to highlight individual lawyers.  Those examples, according to the blog, “gives us a hint about what professional services marketing of the future may look like.”

Believe me, social media may not be the cure that puts personal marketing in the forefront for developing business for lawyers, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

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Clients Still Hire Lawyers Not Law Firms, So Get Off Your Duff

Don’t Let Your Lawyers Opt Out of Marketing

 

You may think that that is so obvious, that my mere mentioning it is dumb.  Not so fast.  Too many lawyers are into activities to be active…they think.  Some believe that by going to enough social events (online or otherwise), or business meetings, or community events that they will pick up work.  Maybe or maybe not.

Jamie Field on her Enlightened Rainmaking blog starts a post on the subject by telling a kindergarten joke to make a point ; to wit:  “Why do you go to bed at night? Because the bed won’t come to you.”  (yes, I did smile, Jamie.)  Her point is that it is important to go where you clients are.

She provides two simple suggestions:

  • Online.  Hang out and be social by contributing meaningful content (not just promote yourself, which happens too often on LinkedIn IMHO) on the social networks that your clients are involved in.  Join the right groups and raise your profile by listening and providing value to the discussions; and
  • In-Person.  Attend conferences, meetings, etc. that have the greatest potential for running into your clients and others like them (and good referrals sources, I might add).

That way you won’t lose sleep worrying about why your clients don’t come to you!

It is always a good idea for lawyers to focus on raising their visibility to attract clients directly and via referrals. Amy Campbell’s Web Log recently suggested three steps to increase fame and fortune this year that should help in developing business. They include:

  1. Writing more. Whether that is with more articles, blogging, or just increasing meaningful content on your website, the important thing is to make it relevant and interesting to your clients and prospective clients. Also, Campbell suggests considering “video, audio, presentations, lists and more;”
  2. Socializing more online. Share your content utilizing social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook at least once a week. And don’t hesitate to share and comment on other content you encounter on social media; and
  3. More face-to-face meetings. This I particularly like, because there is a tendency among some lawyers to concentrate too much on electronic networking vs. the old fashion (and trusted) way IMHO. So, don’t forget to pick up the phone, invite a client or referral source to lunch or dinner, or just for coffee.

Not sure how much fame and fortune will result directly in 2012, but it certainly will raise your profile, and that should result in more business for you and your law firm sooner rather than later. 

Last month I did a post on Facebook’s Business (actual name is Fan) page. I referred to a post by Tom O’Leary in which he made some good points about why people should keep an eye on the developments at Facebook. He suggested setting up a profile on the social media site. His thinking, as I understand it, is that you do not want to be left behind as Facebook aggressively goes after Google in the areas of search engines (Bing has already been embedded), local maps and soon e-mail – all without leaving the site.

O’Leary reports that as the word is getting out, more and more of his clients are asking how to set up a fan page. In response he has a recent post that contains a video tutorial on how to set up a page; and a second video on how to manage and why it’s important to set the page up correctly. He points out how in a huge city like Los Angeles, there are only two divorce attorneys who have set up a business page at the current time. Obviously, they have a large advantage in being found by people searching Facebook for such an attorney.

Can’t imagine anyone thinking that Facebook has peaked. All the more reason to set up a fan page sooner rather than later. O’Leary apologizes that his video equipment doesn’t allow close ups of the URLs, but if you enlarge the YouTube videos to full screen, you’ll get the idea.

It seems like a good marketing strategy to go ahead and set up your business/fan page asap.

Although I’ve been on Facebook for awhile, I can’t say that I have been a big fan. In fact, when it comes to social media, I’ve been in favor of LinkedIn over Facebook for businesses, especially law firms. That may be changing. If you are not already on Facebook, I suggest you go ahead and sign up.

What got me thinking about this was a post by Tom O’Leary on The Attorney Marketing Blog entitled "Google VS Facebook-Should Law Firms Care?" It appears that O’Leary hasn’t been a fan of Facebook either, but is having a change of heart, at least preliminarily.

According to O’Leary, "Facebook is growing up… And now has more visitors worldwide than Google." He goes on to point out that it has Bing’s search capability on its site, and apparently they’re working on a "Places/Local/Maps product". O’Leary wonders what will happen when they roll out an open e-mail capability.

He (and I, since I know when to jump on a bandwagon, don’t cha know) suggests keeping an eye on Facebook developments. And if you do not have a profile already on the media site, "now’s the time to build one."

Just what I was going to say, and make sure to put your best face forward.

P.S. If you’re so inclined why not become a friend by clicking on “Like” on my new Business Page. Why not become a fan of O’Leary’s here while you’re at it. Thanks.

There is a very interesting article by Anthony Green in Law Practice Today which talks about Web 2.0, Web 1.0 and social media in general. Not being one completing sold on all the hype surrounding social media, I agree with several points Green raises about the need to get back to basics.

He (and I) recognize the role social media can and is playing. The question is have we lost focus on the main point surrounding personal services marketing? As Green points out “In all likelihood, the big decision makers still prefer face-to-face communication…” and although social media and the virtual world is playing an “increasingly important (role)… keep in mind that most business in the professional services world is still done face-to-face.”

He sums up his article by pointing out the need for lawyers to spend less time in front of their computer screens and more face time with clients and prospects (and referral sources I might add). As he puts it: “The end goal of your marketing efforts should be to foster face-to-face conversations.”

In my mind that is Business Development 101. Green shares a quote from Jonathan Baskin, the columnist for Advertising Age, who said “we’ve allowed this (social media) nonsense to get out of hand.” So, let’s not lose focus on what it is that really develops business most effectively.

Certainly you know of someone who is looking for a job during these tough economic times, whether in our legal community or not. It appears that social media sites may be able to help

I’m learning more each day about the benefits of social media, and don’t pretend to have a full grasp of all its implications. It certainly has tremendous potential from a networking angle, although as I mentioned in my last post I still believe face-to-face networking is more effective.

But, clearly, it has the advantage of reaching a larger audience faster. Thus, thanks to my friend Ford Harding for steering me to Charles Brown at web marketing coach and his post on “7 Great Social Media Resources For Job Seekers.”

Here are some of the resources he talks about:

If you are looking for a job or know someone who is, Brown’s post and the resources listed above are a must read.

According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore.

Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let me quickly say that of course social media is, and will be even more so in the future, a great networking source. And Susan is an active participant on those networks as well.

Her point is that “[r]eal networking is about real people and real relationships. So she says, “let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking.”  Here are her “three rules for effective networking – the old fashioned way”:

  1. Be Committed. Don’t be looking for Instant gratification. It isn’t in the cards. Rather building a “solid foundation of relationships” is what it will take over time. Spend time listening, asking probing questions and finding things you have in common. Susan suggests an opening question like “Tell me about yourself;”
  2. Develop a Relationship. Tons of business cards (or “follows” online) isn’t the answer. After an event, she suggests sending an email (ugh, handwritten note is much better) with a copy of an article or link to information about a topic you talked about.  Then, of course, more follow up after more follow up should continue; and
  3. Give, give, give. Think of ways to help someone before asking for referrals or otherwise seeking something from them. By being willing to help the other person first, you will become known as the go-to person, and your network will become very strong in the process. So, ask the question “How can I help you?,” Susan suggests.

Okay, okay. I can hear a thousand of you lawyers out there (Susan is a lawyer, BTW) saying “wait a minute, you can do those things via social media too.” True, but can you do them as well? Or is social media the best way to network? IMHO, whenever or wherever possible, the best networking is still face-to-face interaction. It is not as easy for some for sure. But having a million online acquaintances, by itself, is not the answer.

So, don’t hide in front of your computer monitor. Get out there and network in person…after tweeting your heart away, of course.