3 Steps to Network Your Law Firm on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is all about making business connections and luckily for you, there are several great tools on the site that makes networking on this platform a breeze. Once you have your profile in place and have made sure all the information is up to date, that you have some blog posts connected to it, and have added a video or two, you are set to network. Here are the three key steps you need to take:

Step 1: Have LinkedIn import your address book and search your email account.

The site will then suggest some connections based on who you already know. Send those suggested connections a connection request and you are on your way.

Step 2: Find and connect with potential clients.

  • Search by industry first to see if you already have any connections at companies you are targeting for potential new business.

  • If you find that you have a first-degree connection to a prospective client, call or email your first-degree connection and ask them to make an introduction.

  • If the connections you find are further down the scale (2nd or 3rd tier connections), use the InMail feature to invite those people to connect with you. Customize your request to provide context for the connection.

  • Be sure you have opted in to LinkedIn alerts for all your connections. Once you receive an alert that someone you’re connected with has published an article or has a new job, send them an email to reconnect and rekindle the relationship.

  • If you receive an alert that someone has viewed your profile who could be a potential new client, send that person an InMail message asking if you can help.

Step 3: Cultivate new referral sources.

  • Find LinkedIn groups that match up with your practice area and join them. Participating in these groups helps drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile page.

  • Showcase your expertise by starting your own LinkedIn group and inviting your connections to join.

  • Post blogs, articles, firm announcements, press releases, videos on your profile page and in your groups.

  • Examine your client’s networks to see if there are any potential prospects you’d like to be introduced to and then ask your current or former client if they would be a referral source for you.

Once you get the hang of how things work on LinkedIn — and how easy it is to connect — you will find that it is ripe for networking successfully. And you don’t even have to leave home or the office to do it!

This post was written by Stephen Fairley of The Rainmaker Institute, All Rights Reserved ©
For more legal analysis, go to The National Law Review

#LMA17: Twitter Recap of the Rise of the Legal Marketing Technologist

LMA17 Twitter recapThis year’s Legal Marketing Association Annual conference featured a new pre-conference program: Rise of the Legal Marketing Technologist.

The session is designed for looking at a lot of the big picture issues legal marketers face such as artificial intelligence, as well as provide practical advice and tools to help navigate today’s ever changing marketing technology landscape. Here is the National Law Review’s a recap of the Twitter commentary for the day:

The Future is Now: Scaling Expertise with Cognitive Computing

The Ethics of Data-Driven Legal Marketing

Marketing Automation: How to Build a Platform that Nurture Prospects and Clients

Design Thinking Workshop

Re-architecting Law Firms’ Data Sources

Stay tuned for more Twitter coverage from the 2017 LMA Annual Conference!

What It Takes to Make It Rain: Rainmakers Now, and Rainmakers of the Future

rainmakerIn the rapidly changing legal industry, it is no surprise that broad conceptions of what it means to be a rainmaker are also evolving. Dr. Heidi Gardner, Lecturer and Distinguished Fellow at the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, has been conducting research over the past decade on collaboration in law firms. Her findings have also revealed insights into rainmakers: what makes them successful, how their roles changed over time, and how the next generation of rainmakers can be primed to succeed. She will be presenting her findings on the myths and realities of rainmakers at the Thomson Reuters 24th Annual Marketing Partner Forum.

Successful Rainmakers: Extroverts, Introverts, and Cultural Understanding

A common discussion regarding rainmakers, and leadership in general, is whether they are born or made. Based on her decades long research, Dr. Gardner’s answer to whether rainmakers are born is a resounding no. What makes someone a successful rainmaker is their ability to exhibit other sides of their personality, or other strengths and traits, depending on their audience. Rainmakers are typically discussed as being highly extroverted—charismatic, forceful, possessing great salesmanship skills. However, these traits themselves don’t make rainmakers successful, but rather it is their enormous ability to connect with whomever the buyer of their services. Because buyers are not a homogeneous group, most successful rainmakers are able to adjust or adapt their style appropriately.

Introverts are therefore not precluded from being successful because of their commonly thought of as “quiet nature”. In fact, introverts may make better rainmakers in some regard. Dr. Gardner points out that introverts tend not to think out loud and consider what they’re going to say before they say it. They often take time to reflect and appropriately listen to the person that is sitting across the table. This makes introverts very adept at identifying the buyer’s underlying issues and thinking through what it takes to connect the dots inside their firm to help clients solve complex issues. Dr. Gardner also points out that “Many buyers of legal services are also introverts, and they will appreciate someone who has similar a demeanor—not salesy or pushy.” Great rainmakers who are introverts are chameleons. It likely takes more energy for them to be outgoing and interact with strangers in a bigger setting, but they will have developed the capacity to be gregarious enough to make those connections.

Successful rainmakers have a foundation of being highly empathetic and have a strong motivation and interest in understanding other clients—it’s part of what makes them so successful. Dr. Gardner posits these skills are the “basic building blocks for being able to communicate across cultures” and make rainmakers more equipped to be successful with buyers from other countries. What’s required is an additional measure of cultural intelligence; successful rainmakers take part in and study the behavioral mimicry of their buyers in addition to having an appreciation for why different people approach different problems from different perspectives in general.

Evolution of Rainmaker: Toward Collaboration

During the course of Dr. Gardner’s research, she has discovered an interesting trend, or rather non-trend, in the legal industry: the rainmakers at law firms are largely the same people. During the past ten to twelve years, firms have moved away from mandatory retirement. Partners are staying longer than ever, so the rainmakers at firms now are the same ones from a decade past.

There is a new generation of rainmakers coming in now, but there is a lot of frustration in the profession regarding the structure and effectiveness of succession planning (which will be discussed further below). Despite the fact that the legal industry is currently dealing with the same cast of characters, one profound change Dr. Gardner has observed in the last decade involves a simultaneous broadening and narrowing of the role of the rainmaker.

According to Dr. Gardner, “clients increasingly expect a level of industry expertise” that requires attorneys to identify their practices with more specificity than ever. An attorney can no longer be an “environmental attorney”, but must become “an environmental attorney with a focus on extractive industries”, or an “intellectual property lawyer” must be an “IP attorney who specializes in the patent prosecution of computer hardware”. However, because clients’ problems are becoming increasingly complex, rainmakers are less able to be seen as the single go-to person for a particular client who puts together a team of experts in a single discipline, but rather as needing pull together teams of multidiscipline experts. So along with the narrowing of the rainmaker’s own field of expertise, successful rainmakers are broadening their ability to pull together diverse teams to tackle their client’s problems. The rainmaker is the conductor; as Dr. Gardner states: “The client counts on them to be a broker to all of the kind of experts that exist within the firm.”

In order to be successful going forward, rainmakers of the future need to be more collaborative as far as seeking out complementary experts to serve clients. A common obstacle that prevents rainmakers from being successful in this is the reliance on bringing in the “obvious suspects” as a matter of prestige in front of the client. But when called upon to do work on the case, these attorneys are nowhere to be found. Dr. Gardner believes that a key to building a successful team will be to find the hidden gems at the law firm—rainmakers should seek out attorneys who are hungry for client service opportunities. She acknowledges that doing this can be a risky. It’s easier to put someone in front of your client who has an existing reputation as a guru in their sector, but their value to the process is limited if their participation is not complete.

People who are truly intent on becoming successful rainmakers should be investing the time and the energy on others who are not necessarily thought of as the “obvious suspects”. They must access the deeper well of talent that exists and bringing them through the system so that they become committed, loyal, deeply engaged attorneys who are serving the client. To continue to be successful, rainmakers will need to take the risks and bring different kinds of people on board; as Dr. Gardner stated “The legal industry is too fragile to rely on just small pool of experts.”

Rainmakers – The Next Generation

As stated previously, Dr. Gardner has found that effective succession planning in law firms has been found wanting. Even though this generation of rainmakers has been around longer than ever, it is critical for the continuing success of firms to take a hard look at bringing up the new generation of rainmakers on deck. The most effect way to begin doing this is through mentorship. Dr. Gardner states, “People need to accept responsibility for developing a pipeline of talent.” She experienced some of the effective mentoring while she was working as a consultant at McKinsey’s Johannesburg office. She worked under a partner that would take her to all the important meetings, where she wasn’t expected to participate, but allowed to observe. During her time under the tutelage of this partner at McKinsey, she learned a tremendous amount about the ins and outs of client handling. Today’s rainmakers need to make those types of investments in people that will eventually come after them.

Up-and-comers also need to be willing to take responsibility for the trajectory of their career. Too often, Dr. Gardner has encountered partners who have tried to give junior partners or associates the opportunity to participate in learning experiences, who are asked “Can I bill the time?” This is the incorrect mindset to have on the road to becoming a successful rainmaker. Dr. Gardner elaborates: “If you’re trying become a successful rainmaker, you have to invest some non-billable time in your own development as well.” Both the willingness of existing rainmakers to mentor and the tenacity of of rising rainmakers will be what dictates the success of the next generation of rainmakers.

Learn more about the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute Marketing Partner Forum here.

Copyright © 2017 National Law Forum, LLC

Law Firm Holiday Cards – Do’s and Don’ts

Q: Are holiday cards effective?

A:  I think that they can be considered one more nice way to stay in touch, to send a friendly communication to a large number of clients and prospects all at once.  Of course, I said that they can be effective, not that they typically are.

Holiday cards pose complex issues of database management and client ownership, combined with the logistical questions of who signs which card(s).  Through hard work and discipline, these are mightily overcome — only to become one of a dozen bland, look-alike cards depicting politically correct images like pine trees, ice skaters, snow-covered skylines, ambiguously decorated snow men, or handicapped children’s artwork — which are then sent to dead former clients.

All in the name of strengthening client relationships?

Superhero, CardDone well, the cards should reinforce your firm’s unique brand message, or at least stand out somehow, so they don’t get immediately discarded and forgotten.

When I was the marketing partner of a law firm, it wasn’t unusual for me to get as many as 25 generic holiday cards per day from vendors all wanting our business.

Glance, toss, forget.

Glance, toss, forget.

Glance, toss, forget.

It helps if you have a strong brand message to use, or at least an interesting design to leverage. 

For example, a number of years ago we used an olive-based branding theme for Florida’s Bryant Miller Olive law firm.  Here’s the cover of their olive-themed holiday card:

Holiday Card

The point is — the card represents your firm and your practice.

Don’t rub clients’ noses in your firm’s lack of creativity by doing the same thing as everyone else.  Find some way to do something different. Those that avoid the spam filters don’t generally create much goodwill.

On rare occasion, extra creativity causes one to stand above the pack and get a notice or a smile.

For example, Phoenix’s Engelman Berger law firm always goes the extra mile.

Baseball Card, LawyerEvery year they try something new, including lawyer baseball cards, comic books, TV Guides, and parodies of board games like Clue and Scrabble, Mad magazine, and a children’s book, “Are You My Lawyer?”

Finally, while I know this whole rant is making me sound like Scrooge, I’ve never been a big fan of cards that promise:

“In lieu of a personal gift to you, we’re making a donation

in your name to the following charity(ies).”

In my actual name?

Did they ask me whether I’d prefer receiving the gift?  Or at least help select the charity? Do I get a tax deduction on that money?  And because they never tell you how much they’re donating, everyone I’ve quizzed about this assumes that they’ve taken this approach because it was cheaper and easier.  (And generally, from my experience, they’re right.)

At least that’s how I see it.

Season’s greetings.

Power of Communication in Legal Marketing – The Medium Does Change the Message Part 1

communicationToday’s business environment offers more methods of communication than ever before.  However, more choices does not equal clarity or effectiveness, and in some ways, with the many mediums available communicating effectively requires a thoughtful understanding of the medium being used and how to best stay on message within that medium.  Lee Broekman of Organic Communication and Judith Gordon of LeaderESQ presented at the LMA Tech1 conference in San Francisco, focusing on empowering communication by understanding the medium at play.

Communication can be a major challenge for attorneys, yet it is a critical part of a lawyer’s job.  Gordon says,

To put it simply, lawyers ‘speak for’ their clients. Whether in transactional matters or litigation, lawyers are conduits of their clients’ intentions. To fully and accurately represent another—the essence of a lawyer’s work—understanding the fundamentals of communication is essential. Key communication skills—such as the ability to listen, understand, and then accurately present a client’s position to third parties in negotiations or litigation—are essential to a successful practice, and the smooth running of our legal system.

Broekman agrees, saying: “The lawyers I coach are highly skilled at managing cases and deals, but behind those cases and deals are clients and colleagues. Managing people and relationships is an entirely different skill set—lawyers who want to be successful have to put care into connecting with people who have different perspectives and preferences.”

The four main channels of communication are Person, Print, Phone and Panel. Each channel has strengths and weaknesses in particular situations, and understanding the nature of the message can help determine which channel is the most appropriate.

The first channel is Person—and that is what it sounds like—the fewer and fewer face-to-face meetings, when everyone puts away their phones and looks each other in the eye across a desk or table.  This is the best medium for sensitive issues; even though some of the conversations can be difficult.  Broekman says, “Whenever the issue is sensitive, when a possible conflict is anticipated or a misunderstanding is to be expected —we should have a face-to-face or side-by-side conversation.”  Gordon points out that sensitive matters are best handled in person, because of the way humans process information: “Much of the information we glean from others is visual and auditory—facial expression, tone of voice and body language. When we remove that layer of information, our brains ‘fill in the blanks’ by superimposing our own judgment, which can be devastating.”  When the matter is sensitive or misunderstandings are anticipated, walking down the hall or getting on a plane is worth the effort–and when that’s not possible, a videoconference is a reasonable alternative to try and prevent misunderstandings.

Many times, these face to face meetings can be challenging-and the desire to avoid the awkward, sometimes painful conversation can be tempting.  With so many alternative ways of delivering bad news, it’s important to remember that it can help avoid confusion and drawn out conflict by having tough conversations across a desk without a screen as a buffer.  Broekman points out, “Our instinct is to hide behind the screens of our computers or smartphones, but typing or texting instead of talking could lead to bigger problems and drawn out conflict.”

The second channel, print,  is any medium where the written word is paramount—emails, texts, letters, etc.  This is a channel where misunderstandings tend to cluster around tone—as you are “speaking” to readers, not listeners—who cannot see your face or hear your voice.  With this in mind, Gordon says, “direct communication is best. Write each sentence so that it is able to stand alone. A good rule of thumb is to stick to one message per sentence. The ‘one message per sentence’  rule heightens clarity and lessens ambiguity.  Gordon adds,  “It’s also a good idea to avoid sarcasm or innuendo in print, and allow the power of the written word to speak for itself without relying on inference.”

To be clear in print, sometimes it’s helpful to overcompensate with your words to ensure your audience picks up what you are putting down. Broekman says, “Sometimes it’s helpful to ‘massage your message’ with gentle words such as ‘will you please?’ when making a request, ‘yes, and’ when responding, and ‘yet’ when wanting to suggest that something is not quite done.”  Using the tools at your disposal to convey tone is an important step to take.  While smiley face emojis are appropriate when planning post-work drinks, they are not always professional and appropriate.  Broekman also suggests, “writing feeling behind our statements in parenthesis may be effective.”  For anyone who has misinterpreted all caps as anger, this is a tip that might resonate.

In Part Two, we will examine the Phone and Panel mediums of communication and how to negotiate those streams.

Copyright ©2016 National Law Forum, LLC

1 Broekman and Gordon spoke at the Legal Marketing Technology Conference on October 6th in San Francisco. Their session was entitled Webinars, Podcasts and Mobile (Oh My!) The Medium Does Change the Message. The LMA Tech conference is the largest conference dedicated to technologies that law firms use to identify, attract and support clients.

Learn about Leadership Development and Legal Marketing, November 14-15

Join LMA and Lead Star™ for the inaugural leadership development experience for the legal marketing industry. The program incorporates current research with experiential activities, providing legal marketing professionals with a unique perspective on their personal leadership style and tendencies.

LMA Leadership Development

When: November 15-16, 2016
Where: LMA Headquarters, 330 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

Learn more about the value of your leadership experience with Lead StarLeadstar LMA Leadership Development and prepare for take-away benefits including:
  • A personal assessment of leadership style and its impact on their ability to achieve results
  • Individual leadership coaching sessions to support implementation of lessons
  • Access to online learning resources and social exchange with cohort participants
  • Development of a Personal Action Plan to guide participants in achieving next-level success
  • And much more!

Legal Marketing: Finding Internal Champions and Other Blogging Strategies that Work

Blogging StrategiesDoes your law firm have one or more blogs? Chances are, one in four of you will nod yes. According to the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey, about 26 percent of law firms currently have blogs, continuing a rising trend over the past few years. And of those lawyers who blog, an average of 40 percent have been able to attribute new clients as a result of that activity.

The ABA Journal wrote in April this year about an October 2015 LexisNexis survey concerning law firms and marketing. The survey indicated that “a majority of firms said they are planning to increase their investment in blogging and content marketing this year. According to LexisNexis, of the roughly 400 law firms that responded to the survey, 57 percent said they anticipated doing more blogging as a means of generating business.”

With all signs pointing to the fact that blogging is an effective element of a comprehensive business development strategy, what is holding your firm back?

Jacqueline Madarang, senior marketing technology manager at Bradley, provided many tips and recommendations for making the most of a law firm blog at the Legal Marketing Association Southeastern Chapter annual conference in September. She should know, since the firm has launched five blogs under her deliberate and effective guidance in the past two years.

“There are certain action items that must be done before we will even consider launching a new blog,” said Madarang. “We have a long checklist. It includes a lot of behind-the-scene commitments, such as that attorneys who request a blog have to seek their practice group leader’s approval and also meet with us. They must commit to writing at least two blog posts a month and they have to find at least two editors for the blog. They also are required to submit at least five blog posts before we will launch the blog, and we create a timeline on a calendar of blog development and content development that we follow.”

Find Your Internal Champion

“We have found that the attorney who requests to develop a blog becomes our internal champion in making the blog successful. After the practice group leader supports the effort, we have another champion. We work hard to earn their trust, we seek press and other coverage and awareness of the blog when it goes live, we show them results of their posts, we look to get their content repurposed through media interviews or published as bylined articles, and we always provide them with the support they need to keep it going,” said Madarang.

“We felt even greater success after large Fortune 100 companies (not clients, yet!) emailed our bloggers and complimented them when they were mentioned in our blogs; when Forbes reporters reached out directly to our attorneys because of a blog post; when reporters who followed cases our attorneys blog about asked about status of cases; and when we opened new matters from blog posts.”

“Our internal champions have become helpful advocates who have furthered our own PR within the firm about blogging and the successes we are having,” Madarang said.

Why Do a Blog?

Madarang poses this question to the attorneys to develop a strategy with defined goals and objectives. Some motivations include:

  • Build online visibility to help drive business development

  • Raise their profiles as thought leaders in the industry

  • Become a go-to resource in the area/industry

  • Boost their Google search engine ranking results

She said the firm’s marketing department has to complement and work cooperatively with the attorneys.

“They have to work together,” Madarang said. “The attorneys are the ones writing about the legal topic, but marketing provides the platform and provides all the marketing, social media and technical support.”

What Should I Write About?

“This is a frequent barrier for producing quality blog content,” noted Madarang. She offers these helpful tips for generating topics:

  • Write about topics you are passionate about. If you’re bored by it, your readers will be, too.

  • Talk to clients. What are they asking you about – what do they want to know?

  • Look at analytics. What are people searching for in the firm’s website, search engines and blogs?

  • Identify trending topics. Keep on top of current events and listen at conferences you attend.

  • Repurpose content. Repackage topics you are delivering in other formats, such as presentations.

Bradley Blogging Bootcamp 

One of the most important pre-launch activities that Madarang has instituted at Bradley is required attendance to the Bradley Blogging Writing Bootcamp.

“During this bootcamp, we coach the attorneys on how to write an effective blog. We teach them to write to a specific audience and be more conversational, to find their own style,” said Madarang. “We coach them on how to craft titles, how to hook in a reader with an opening paragraph, how to make their blog posts more digestible and readable without any legalese, how to include the appropriate keywords and how to focus on the key issues. This has been an extremely successful approach that the attorneys have learned from and appreciate. They are committed and want the blog to be a hit, and we provide them with the tools and consistent strategies they need to help them.”

Post-Launch Activity

Once the blog launches, Madarang pays close attention to the results and fine-tunes with the attorneys as needed.

“We have several ways we extend the life of a blog post, whenever possible,” she said.

 Her tactics include:

  • Measure success and show ROI. Look at the analytics and share with the bloggers to help them understand their performance. Create infographics to help them visualize how their results have translated into ROI.

  • Repurpose and reuse. Use blog posts for PR opportunities; publish on LinkedIn, JD Supra, National Law Review, Lexology and/or Mondaq; and share on social media.

  • Celebrate! Create fun awards for the attorneys with the most-read or most-shared posts or for those who wrote most often and opened new client matters as a result. Recognition is a motivator.

Developing and maintaining a law firm blog requires a deep commitment from the attorneys who are going to have to write regularly, as well as from the firm to support that effort from A to Z. Bradley’s blogs have become a well-read fixture under Madarang’s organized strategies, and these tips should provide aspiring law firm bloggers with a foundation for their own success.

ARTICLE BY Vivian Hood of Jaffe

© Copyright 2008-2016, Jaffe Associates