WHO ARE YOU AS AN ATTORNEY AND HOW DO YOU SHOW UP ONLINE?
As mentioned last week, I wanted to start this first month off with some foundational content to ensure that you are setting yourself up for optimal visibility. This means digging into WHO you are as an attorney and HOW you show up both off and online.
When I say “WHO” you are, I mean who are you as an attorney? You know your niche, legal area of speciality, and expertise. However, I’m referring more to your style, your voice, vision and, really, your unique brand. You may have noticed that as an attorney, a law firm, you have just some competition – especially if you are practicing here in beautiful California!
Ahhh, yes, that, the competition. Over the past few years I’ve shared several exchanges with lawyers through face to face conversations, presentations, workshops or as clients to grow a high quality practice for them through online campaigns. EVERY lawyer loses sleep at some point in their careers over how they are going to find their next client, how to meet their firm’s expected billables, how to build their client book or if they own their own practice how to build it in a consistent, predictable way. EVERY lawyer I’ve met has lost sleep over how to manage the well-known feast or famine cycles that way too many businesses experience. THIS is NOT a great way to spend most of your working days, career, life. THIS is NOT a great way to find balance for yourself.
Most attorneys, and you know who you are, do not take the time to position themselves uniquely online. We all worked so hard and sacrificed plenty while going through law school, bar exams, and then quickly diving into practice. During this rapid pace environment most of us did not take the time to ask, WHO do I want to be as a lawyer? Some of you have figured it out – congratulations! For many others, it’s an evolving and challenging environment.
Whether or not you have a plan to build your practice in a predictable, consistent manner so you have some peace of mind and balance in your life, there are at this point several online portals and channels that you, unfortunately, cannot control. So, my advice is to take proactive steps not only to maintain control of how you show up online, but also and most importantly, to build your position, authority and unique brand online. After all the hard work you’ve put into building your reputation offline, you know, in real life – MAKE SURE your online visibility reflects the effort that has gone into building your reputation.
Well, I (and the American Bar Association) have some news for those of you who still aren’t convinced that most people are looking online for an attorney.
Once upon a time, the first thing that an overwhelming majority of people in need of legal representation would do is turn to relatives or friends for personal referrals. Some would consult the Yellow Pages or the local bar association, while only a small handful would use the Internet before any of the other aforementioned options.
Fast forward beginning 2015, and According to a recent survey conducted by FindLaw.com and Thomson Reuters, those numbers have completely flipped around over the last decade. While the Internet was once the least popular option, according to results published last week, using the Web first is now the most popular choice among respondents. FindLaw and Thomson Reuters found that 38 percent of the 1,000 respondents said that they would use the Internet first. That was considerably higher than the other available options: 29 percent of respondents would ask a friend or relative first, 10 percent would go straight to the local bar association; and 4 percent would rely on the Yellow Pages.
Nearly half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, as well as 41 percent of respondents between the ages of 35 and 44, said that they would consult the Web first. On the flip side, the survey found that respondents aged 65 or higher were twice as likely to ask a friend or family member first compared to going on the Internet. They were the anomaly, however. In fact, in every age range other than the 65-plus demographic, a higher number of respondents say that they would use the Internet first compared to their other available options.
For those of you skeptics saying, my clients don’t find me online, they’re referrals by word of mouth in some way. Yes, that is often the case, but even though they are initially ‘introduced to you’ through a mutual personal or professional acquaintance do you really believe they aren’t also doing their research on your website, your social profiles on LinkedIn or elsewhere?
So, let’s assume I’ve somehow convinced you that most people are looking for lawyers and their services online primarily (whether directly or indirectly through an initial personal referral). HOW DO YOU WANT TO SHOW UP?
Here’s where you need to take a few minutes (or more) out of your busy, rapid pace day to ask yourself this question: WHAT SETS ME APART FROM OTHER ATTORNEYS? WHAT MAKES ME SPECIAL? And, the responses to these questions are key in building your unique brand, I’d argue off or online! The beauty of actually slowing down for a moment to think about this is precisely what will give you the peace of mind and balance we all seek in any profession. Once you’ve figured out WHO you are as an attorney and HOW you show up, you can make sure that you choose the right online channels, at the right time, for the right reasons to connect and engage with a very targeted and relevant audience.
Here’s your handy dandy tip of this introductory episode:
To help ensure you are showing up ONline as well as you show up OFFline, with your unique voice and brand I’ve assembled a one page guide to help get you started on asking the right questions so you are crystal clear in your own mind, and especially in the mind of your most relevant audience, about WHO you are as an attorney, and WHAT sets you apart (beyond simply your speciality).
Once this is clear, positioning yourself online to connect, engage and build meaningful relationships leading to a high quality client relationship is easy.
Next we’ll talk more about WHERE to position yourself and your well-branded online profile to accurately reflect you in real life! Spoiler alert: it has a little something to do with positioning yourself on LinkedIn and the many updates to this channel since it was bought out by Microsoft earlier in 2017.
Thanks for taking the time to join me and talk to you next week!