Lawyers: As providers of professional services, it should come as no surprise to you that your firm’s bottom line starts and stops with you. Your clients and potential clients want to know you. Many will hire you because of a personal connection they feel to you.
Connect with your client on a human level early
That personal connection can be made before you ever meet or talk on the phone. The effort that you put into developing your voice and online content will be a gift to your practice that pays handsomely for years to come.
Using the internet in the wrong way can have a chilling effect on your practice. Some lawyers inadvertently misuse the internet, and then write off online marketing as ineffective.
I’m here to tell you when you, the LAWYER, are an active participant, it works. In order to make it work, let me disavow you a few common misunderstandings about what a modern internet presence is not:
- The web is not a soapbox.
- It’s not a billboard.
- It’s not a microphone or megaphone for a monologue.
Your content — whether it’s in the form of web pages, blog or new articles, comments, video or audio — does not exist in a bubble. Without the will to engage your audience in a real conversation, you might as well buy yellow pages ads, television or radio time.
Done right, your website is the next best thing to a telepathic connection with a vast peer referral network, and directly with your potential clients.
Your overall internet presence, when tuned and driven correctly, is the most advanced means of direct networking ever invented. Although seemingly complex, to use it correctly you need only keep two basic things in sight.
Your first goal for your law firm’s web presence
Your first goal is to get your voice heard. That means your authentic voice. Not the voice of an SEO consultant… your own voice.
Your second goal is to use your authentic voice to build authentic relationships. From now on, I want you to see the internet as the equivalent to the biggest benefits of public speaking and peer networking groups… but without the pesky restraints of space, time and the foibles of human memory.
For many lawyers, especially older ones, online marketing requires a paradigm shift. The internet is just different. New values. New Rules.
Old media like radio, TV, phone books and billboards were impersonal. Those things couldn’t possibly reveal your true essence and consummate a relationship. They were an INVITATION TO CONNECT with you.
Used correctly, the Internet helps lawyers establish and build relationships
The internet, when used correctly, bypasses the INVITATION stage and goes directly into a connection and RELATIONSHIP. Because relationships are personal, it’s best if you personally handle your relationships.
Your online persona and your real world persona should be the same… namely, you! You can’t delegate you.
You are paid as a professional because of your education, experience, and the intangibles that make you, uniquely, you. Search engines strive to help people find what they want. As the internet continues to mature, search engines and human users are getting better and better at sniffing out a phony… don’t delegate your personality. Forget buzzwords like reputation, clout and firm culture.
Your law firm’s reputation and relationships are only as good as the relationships of your lawyers. It doesn’t matter if you run a two partner firm, a 20 person boutique or an Am Law monster, this is a wake-up call. All hands on deck! Every lawyer has something unique that somebody can relate to. Don’t hide your associates and partners who are not thought of as rain-makers from the public… give them a voice. Let them shine. And if they don’t want to, well, make ‘em. It’s that important.
The larger your firm, the greater your potential advantage. Online legal marketing is a conversation, and you have the built-in prerequisites for a robust conversation within your firm’s walls. Mobilize around your attorney’s articles. Comment on them. Tweet them. Post them on your Facebook walls. You’ll be amazed at how fast things grow.
For solo practitioners, there has never been a better time to be light and nimble. Your online voice can be as loud and as powerful as any voice in a mega firm. The correct choice of technology is your slingshot in your battle against Goliath to gain or keep market share. Use the internet to form cross-promotional alliances with other solos outside of your practice or geographic areas. Engage competitors and non-competitors alike in meaningful, public discussions. Give freely of advice, encouragement and endorsements using your own voice.
The more you give, the more you get… and what you write online today, when done thoughtfully, and in your own voice, is like a little marketing soldier that you have sent out into the world. That soldier will produce for you loyally for years to come.
Whether you’re a solo, a member of a 100+ lawyer firm, or somewhere in between, the hardest thing about taking control of your online voice is getting started. So hold your breath, close your eyes, and jump in, and let the world get to know you.