Networking and media relations have a few things in common. Both marketing tools will increase your visibility among potential clients, but they also can be a big waste of time if they’re not strategically executed. Although throwing spaghetti against the wall may sometimes result in something sticking, there are better ways to ensure results.
The first half of the battle is showing up. By attending an event or writing an article, you are at least stepping out to play the game. As Enlightened Rainmaking blogger Jamie Field jokes, “Why do you go to bed at night? Because the bed won’t come to you.” Many lawyers understand this concept, but fewer actually make time to market themselves.
So, when time is limited, how do lawyers get the most value from the time they’ve invested in networking or writing an article? Field suggests in her blog post, “Attend conferences, meetings, etc. that have the greatest potential for running into your clients and others like them.” This means that while networking with your peers and competitors at legal events may elevate your presence in the field, it’s not the fastest route to building relationships with clients. Neither is publishing in general legal journals.
Here are a few tips lawyers can use to maximize their networking and media efforts:
- Getting started — Target smaller audiences. If your goal is to build new business, begin by identifying the industries in which you’d like to raise your profile. Attending smaller – but targeted - events will help connect you with general counsel and executives from specific industries. Likewise, targeted industry trade publications may have smaller circulations, but publishing an article in a top industry trade will help you reach the right audience.
- Getting their attention — Focus on them, not you. Few people want to have a drink with someone who talks endlessly about himself. Most people understand that effective networking entails learning about others around you and discussing their needs, challenges, experiences, etc. This logic can and should also be applied to publishing articles. While simple case analysis may be interesting to lawyers, offering best practices or take-away messages will refocus your article on the legal concerns or business challenges readers in a particular industry are facing.
- Staying in the game — Seek power in numbers. Occasionally attending an event or writing an article may help raise your profile in an industry temporarily, but it’s unlikely to have a lasting effect. Brands are not built overnight. Consider making a list of the top three to five industry associations and trade publications, and set a goal to be active in at least one of those outlets each month.