Networks can look like expletivebut getting your name out there is often an essential part of marketing and business development for attorneys working in small firms or on their own.
Above the Law spoke with several small business attorneys about what they’ve found works best when reaching out to gain or retain new clients. Read on to hear what they have to say.
Express genuine interest
One of the most common sources of fear in connection with communication is the fear of appearing sleazy or selfish, like a business school undergraduate student testing techniques he learned through skimming. How to win friends and influence people.
The antidote, according to two small business attorneys, is to be your true self. Remember, you’re building a relationship—not just a business opportunity—with someone who likely shares many of your professional interests and might take the opportunity to speak with another enthusiast.
“Don’t network for the sole purpose of generating business; you’ll be grouped with everyone else doing the same thing you do,” says Janine Olga, a solo family law practice based in Portland, Maine. “Share your ‘why’ and people will remember you. .”
“Gone are the days of suffocating lawyers. “Clients and colleagues want to work with people who are kind, personable, and helpful,” adds Pamela Rosario, an IP and contracting firm based in New York City.
“My best networking has come from actually reaching out to a lawyer or other business owner that I like and asking them for a quick Zoom call or phone call to hear about their work and their business journey.”
Show your expertise
If networking with other professionals does not seem appropriate to the way you want to build new business, consider focusing on building a reputation for expertise as an entrepreneur or in your primary legal practice area.
“For many, including myself, chatting is a challenge,” says personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Daniel J. Siegel is from the Havertown, Pennsylvania company of the same name.
“I made contact by publishing newsletters (one of which reaches a few thousand lawyers and judges), by writing and lecturing frequently, and by staying active in several bar associations,” he says.
“It takes a lot of time and games, but for those of us who find that traditional methods don’t always work, these technologies have helped.”
Siegel adds that he is very focused on developing and maintaining his company’s web presence. Doing so, he says, made it easier to connect with potential clients and colleagues local to his office.
network with strategy
“One of the reasons I set up my own practice was to get more involved with the commercial side of the law and take control of the strategy for growing the client base,” he says. John Joy, CEO and managing attorney of New York-based FTI Law.
“Communication is an important part of this, but it is important for communication to be strategic if you want it to pay off. If your network doesn’t have a strategy, you can spend a lot of time attending events that will make you ‘feel’ productive, but won’t deliver results. that you want.
Joy recommends the “upstream” approach to networking, which emphasizes reaching out to people who are likely to refer you, rather than building direct relationships with prospects.
“There is a huge amount of data showing that people respond better to recommendations from someone they know when it comes to hiring professional services,” he says. “That’s why recommendations are so valuable and it’s important to identify people and networks who might be in a position to refer you, rather than hire you.”
Joy adds that building a network of non-lawyer professionals means reaching out to other events and networks that aren’t already crowded with other attorneys. This reduces the chances of competing against other attorneys for the same business.
“This is where you can stand out, especially if you are just starting to build your practice.” Joy says.
Don’t forget to take advantage of social media
Claudia Cuprero, a solo family, business and real estate law practice based in Miami, credits the COVID-19 pandemic with prompting her to explore alternatives to traditional in-person contact.
Presenting her real life as a lawyer on social media — especially on Instagram, where she has around 6,000 followers — has paid off in the form of new clients. Cobrero credits her social media presence with bringing in about “80 to 85 percent” of her business.
Social media also provides a well-established avenue for showing expertise on the subject, Cobrero says, whether that means cracking a recent legal win or her morning routine.
Cuprero’s social media strategy incorporates much of the advice given by other attorneys in this article.
For example, Cuprero says she tries to de-regulate in favor of presenting her true self in a manner similar to that proposed by Oliga and Rosario.
She says social media also tends to help create connections with non-lawyers, allowing her to pursue what is essentially a digital version of the “upstream” communication strategy recommended by Joy.
“I began to realize that my areas of law—family, real estate, probate, estate planning, and business law—catered to ordinary people,” says Cupero.
“I was like, ‘Why would I contact other attorneys who only send me a client if they don’t have another attorney (that can handle it) that they’d like better?'” “I can go straight to my ideal customer, which is the consumer.
Cuprero stresses three factors for lawyers looking to up their game on social media. First, forget any stigma around using social media, and know that having an active Instagram account is not a sign that you have a lot of free time.
Secondly, trust and comfort in your content is key to presenting an authentic face to your followers.
Finally, check if your state or local bar association has published information about legal advertising and social media or about ethical best practices for lawyers when using social media. Understand and adhere to any relevant available directives.
Ethan Peppernis is a Brooklyn-based writer covering legal technology and small law firms and is an in-house consultant for Above the Law. His coverage of legal events and the legal services industry has appeared in Law360, Bushwick Daily, and elsewhere.