The business world today is hyper-focused on digital connectedness, particularly during the pandemic. Lawyers are traditionally reliant on in-person business development, networking, and word-of-mouth. However, the days of entertaining prospective clients and referrals at restaurants and sports games are quickly becoming a relic of the past. On the other hand, the resources normally spent on those activities can be reallocated to other means of networking such as boosting your social media presence. Even if you’re a pro at in-person networking, you may still struggle with virtual networking. In this article, we share tips on how to accelerate business development for lawyers in a digital-first world.
Business Development for Lawyers
1. Leverage Technology
Lawyers can accelerate their business development through face-to-face digital interactions. Set up Zoom coffee meetings, host online seminars or webinars, etc. In addition to using technology tools to better automate marketing and sales efforts, there are plenty of technology tools out there that can allow you to continue networking. Look into which tools will help you build more relationships digitally.
For an all-encompassing look at how to leverage marketing automation, check out this free, on-demand webinar: What Is Marketing Automation and How Can It Benefit Your Firm?
2. Join Industry LinkedIn Groups
These groups help you stay connected to like-minded individuals, and are also a great way to stay up to date on what’s happening in your sector. LinkedIn is especially helpful for targeting industries through groups. Make sure you offer value by posting unique content and being active in conversations. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to approach groups, and members tend to see right through self-promotional posts. In our past blog post, we dug into the proper way lawyers should approach LinkedIn groups.
3. Optimize Your Social Profiles
Having a strong social media presence is an important aspect of business development for lawyers. Make sure all of your profiles are complete, consistent, and on-brand. Optimizing your social media pages makes it easy for others to trust you and get in front of your target audience. Use keywords where appropriate, make sure you have a professional headshot, an impactful headline, etc. See: Social Media Bio Tips for Lawyers.
4. Offer Educational Resources
One of the best ways to build business is to offer something of value. The bulk of the content you create as a lawyer should be shaped around education. Try creating content that answers questions for your audience and provides solutions. Items like blogs, podcasts, informative videos, and eBooks, are a good place to start.
5. Create a Virtual Education Content Plan
Along with a traditional content plan where blogs and articles are promoted, consider coming up with a plan for more modern methods of educating your law firm’s target audience. Fortunately, technology has never been more accessible than it is today, making it simple for lawyers and legal marketers alike to lean into podcasts and webinars. With no geographical barriers, both are great digital mediums for reaching and educating a wide audience.
6. Clean Up Your Relationship Tracking
Many professionals do not take advantage of a CRM system, and that costs them time and deals over the long run. Use any spare time right now to learn a new system and start organizing your database within it. If you don’t have a formal CRM system, an Excel spreadsheet is better than nothing.
7. Revise Your Business Plans
If you’ve never written a comprehensive plan for how to obtain more business, now is the time. Set realistic goals and evaluate different ways you can build credibility and brand awareness. Remember, if you’re heading into the next year without a solid idea of what your business development goals are and a plan as to how you’ll reach them, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Start out by developing a few SMART goals, and then identify which marketing channel(s) and campaigns you’ll use to reach these goals.
8. Leverage Social Media
In today’s digital landscape, brand identity is strongly linked to your social media presence. By building your own personal brand and establishing a social media following, you can enhance your reputation as an attorney, build trust with current and prospective clients, and generate new opportunities to build your practice.
Many people don’t use social media to the extent that they are able because they’re not comfortable. Learn the basics and then invest time in posting content, joining groups, and reaching out to prospects. For more tips, watch our on-demand webinar, How Lawyers Can Use Social Media to Build Their Brand & Grow Their Practice.
9. Collaborate With Other Thought Leaders
Lawyers can accelerate their business development by reaching out to potential partners or other colleagues and co-author a white paper, putting on a zoom webinar, or inviting them on your podcast. Connect with other industry leaders via social media, and keep up to date on what their projects/ typical content is like. If you see something you like, or could help with, reach out. Podcasters and YouTube channels are always looking for guests, and appearing on another’s show can do wonders for brand awareness.
10. Focus on Current Clients
The quality of the relationship is one of the more important aspects of choosing a law firm. Consider your most important clients and think about what else you can do for them. Go above and beyond such as sending a small gift or hosting calls to make introductions for them. Try to have a plan in place as to how you’ll keep your current clients engaged. Even something as simple as sending a client alert can be enough to let them know you’re there and ready to help.
11. Have a Plan for Times of Uncertainty
If COVID-19 has proven anything, it’s that traditional marketing tactics cannot always be relied on and that the push for digital is essential nowadays. However, the silver lining of it all is that our world is even more connected online. If you’re ever relying on an in-person event for lead generation, consider having backup plans in place or an accompanying digital marketing campaign. Sending an email after an event or targeting attendees with ads can go a long way in keeping your name top of mind.
12. Block Off Time
There are plenty of reasons not to focus on business development – specifically, delivering for clients! It’s important to be disciplined and set aside a little time every day to perform business development activities. Many people find mornings work best before they have to put out the fires of the day. Build a block of time into your calendar so you can respond to inquiries, check the results of current campaigns, work on future campaigns, and do anything else that’s a part of your business development plan.
13. Take Action
Every time you think “I should really give XYZ at ABC company a call”, but don’t do it, you’re letting an opportunity pass by. If you consistently tell yourself you’ll do things later, you’re likely missing out on a lot of chances to build business. Take action when you think about it.
14. Delegate When Possible
Do you need to write every proposal or could a junior staffer do that? Do you need to spend more time polishing that presentation or could a virtual assistant help? Automate nurturing activities with email tools and receive automatic reminders with an efficient CRM system. This will free up a lot of your time and allow you to have even more valuable business development interactions.
15. Hone Your Skills
Your law school education focused on preparing you for your legal career, and you probably never received any formalized training in business development and marketing. Nowadays, having this type of skillset is important if you plan on remaining competitive. Check out the Good2bSocial Academy. We have courses covering subjects like blogging and digital marketing, curated specifically for lawyers.
16. Leverage the Press
Did you just win a major case? Have you collaborated with someone recently? If you have any new or exciting news, now’s the time to put it all into a press release and send it to the media. Remember, even if your story doesn’t get picked up, you can still post any of your news stories to your site.
17. Start a Referral Program
You’d be surprised how many of your own clients would love to recommend you to a friend. Although digital is the way to go, and word-of-mouth has lost its reliability, you can edit old tactics into a digital format. Consider creating an email campaign informing clients that they can receive something in return for recommending a friend who signs on as a client.
18. Create Case Studies
Case studies are very important for law firms. They prove with action and evidence that you can meet the expectations of your potential clients. Make the most of your case studies by posting them to your website in an easy-to-find spot and sharing them via social media or email.
19. Conduct and Publish Research
Doing some sound research on topics in your industry and publishing your findings is a great way to pose yourself as a thought leader and get your name seen online. Although this tactic takes some time, the payoff could be a large number of leads.
20. Stay Up to Date on Reviews
Online reviews are essential nowadays. Always keep up to date on your reviews and respond and address any negative comments immediately. You can also easily share your best reviews on your site with an easy tool like Birdeye. And don’t forget to encourage your clients to leave reviews as well! Current and positive reviews will improve your appearance in the eyes of potential clients and in the eyes of Google’s search algorithm
As the digital world continues to cross over into the business world, successful lawyers will be those who are smart about developing business online. These tactics can help you with business development for lawyers, but one of the most important aspects of business development is consistency. Business development is a long-term effort, not a short game.
Are your firm’s business development professionals looking for additional coaching training and professional development? Check out our on-demand webinar: The Challenges and Opportunities of Business Development Coaching at Law Firms. This webinar provides training and tools to teach rainmaking skills to business development professionals at all levels.
This post has been edited and republished from Mar. 10, 2021.