We’re too busy to market. That is probably the lament of more attorneys than not. When you have the time, nobody is interested in you. When you are busy—and people want to hear from you—no time.
I happily just missed the window when speed dating became popular—I don’t think I would’ve done well. And while speed marketing may not be the greatest solution, it beats the alternative of doing nothing. While it is preferable for an attorney to have a business development plan and marketing strategy, the reality is that cases and clients (and family and life) keep getting in the way. Thus I reluctantly give you some suggested ways to market your practice in 60 minutes or less.
All I ask of you is an hour. Maybe it is an hour a week. Perhaps you’ll only give an hour a month. If you simply can’t find that time, I would say you are not a particularly sharp business person. Here are 10 ways to do something to market yourself. It’s not necessarily ideal, but it is better than nothing.
1. Update and refine your attorney profile/bio. It sounds stupid and simplistic, but the reality is that most attorney bios are out of date. Are your representative matters properly listed? Or your memberships in associations? How about your narrative? There is simply no more important piece of marketing than your own bio. It’s what people look at when a referral is made. Or you are put on a team with a new client. Spend an hour. Clean it up. Nothing matters more than putting your best foot forward on the one document everyone dealing with you will read and review.
2. Reach out and touch someone. This is an ideal short exercise that is easy to do. You can mostly cut and paste the same personal message repeatedly. Go through your contacts and send a nice email touching base. This does not work if you want something, or they think you are trying to sell them. You were just thinking about them. Wanted to give you an update. See how they are doing. When people realize your intention was really just to touch base, see how they are, and provide some sort of personal update/message, they are impressed. But don’t ruin it by throwing in any type of suggested solicitation. This is just a contact “touch” with no strings attached.
3. There are lots of productive ways to spend an hour on LinkedIn. Maybe you go back to this one time and again to use different components of the tool. An hour on your profile. An hour finding legitimate new contacts. An hour reviewing and commenting (thoughtfully) on posts from colleagues. An hour posting items of interest for others to read. You might scroll through an alumni network or association of interest. You’ll almost always come away with something. I’ll sometimes pull LinkedIn up on a weekend afternoon and just play around with endless possibilities.
4. Schedule that lunch. I review plenty of BD plans that list out the people that an attorney plans to contact for lunch or drinks. At the end of the year we go through the list and somehow none of it ever happened. List out some dates. Reach out to those contacts. Get that lunch on the calendar. Just one.
5. Claim a profile. There are lots of great free attorney profiles out there that can create visibility and subsequently leads. Avvo is one option. The best free profile is from Justia—which feeds several attorney bio databases and offers up a dynamic, search engine friendly bio page.
6. Write something. It might be a contribution to a blog, or a news item for your website. Perhaps you can put an hour a week into an article for publication (yes, it take more than an hour—so we’ll cheat and break it up over the course of a month or two). We’re not talking about law review articles here. You would be surprised how quickly you can bang something out in the 800-1,200 word range. Plenty of outlooks are looking for opinionated content on your area of practice.
7. Play on social media. Pick your poison (of interest). Your client base and practice will dictate the best forum. It might be old standbys like Facebook or Twitter. Or younger channels such as Instagram or Tik Tok. But lawyers are carving out brands for themselves on all these sites. Go ahead and check them out yourself. Successful Twitter users will follow (and get followed back) by CEOs, journalists and other key audiences. Pick one and build your market on social one hour at a time.
8. Join a new association (or more likely utilize one where you are already a member). Many have well-trafficked listservs to post and comment on. I recently joined two new attorney groups—both have a lot of informative chatter in areas where I’m interested in the practices. I go back to the listserv digests every few days (as opposed to getting inundated by posts). It is an ideal way to get yourself known in a niche area.
9. Do some competitive intelligence. It is amazing what you can learn (and what they’ll tell you) when doing online searches and combing another law firm’s website. Where are they speaking? What are they sponsoring? What client alerts are they issuing? Simply studying the attorney or law firms you compete with can be quite enlightening.
10. Pick one function a month to show up at – depending on your schedule, it might be a breakfast briefing, brown bag lunch presentation, or happy hour event. Perhaps put on by your law school, a bar association or industry organization. Make it a goal to hit one a month. Now that “in person” is finally a real thing again, know that rubbing elbows, getting out there, and being seen are the best ways to remain visible and further develop contacts—old and new.
None of this is rocket science. You’ve probably thought about and avoided doing all 10 because you don’t have the time. Break it down into one-hour commitments to your law firm marketing efforts. And rather than simply saying I don’t have time to market, tell yourself that you can carve out an hour—ideally weekly, but maybe monthly—and do something rather than nothing. Before you know it, you’ll realize that you are marketing and on your way to bigger and better things. Because the less time you have to do it, the easier it is to continue planting the seeds to maintain or increase growth. Once you have too much time on your hands to sit down and market, the real opportunity is lost.
About the Author
Micah Buchdahl is an attorney who works with law firms on marketing and business development and is a past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division. Micah is a member of Law Practice Today’s Board of Editors. He can be reached at email@example.com or 856.234.4334, and on Twitter at @mbuchdahl.