Welcome to the Brave New World of Virtual Networking
By Liza Vasquez ICF CMC and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA MBA CMC
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
When Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931, he could never have envisioned what that phrase would mean to us in 2021 when the Covid pandemic essentially ended the Brave Old World of obtaining clients through personal contacts. Of course, by the beginning of 2022, we will likely return to some form of in-person networking. But much of the world of Zoom, Webinars and LinkedIn are here to stay. So, how do we live in this new hybrid world of human interaction?
Some of the old methods of increasing your client base will remain the same, but inevitably the approach will be different. Let’s see what we need to do.
You will still need a network, a web of your own social and business contacts. As you plunge into the world of ‘personal virtual networking,’ kindly remember that the quality of your network will be far more important than the size of your network.
Your goal is to have a high-quality network even if that means having a smaller one. Think about it: a large network of people who have nothing to do with your practice area is nearly a complete waste of your time. Your goal is to emphasize Quality over Quantity.
In fact, we highly recommend that you do not aim for mass-marketing. We suggest that you target one-on-one conversations. Slowly build a small but loyal group of followers with your high-quality content through one-on-one relationships. Remember to be extremely generous with your content (see below) and ideas. This is what will make you memorable. Then you can shift into Zoom or telephone calls, text messages and personal emails and you will have a real relationship going.
Action items: Every month, identify four additional people you want to connect with (ideal clients, reporters, prospective clients, referral sources, influencers) and engage with them. Start in the next two weeks.
High-Quality Content is Worth Gold To The Internet
In our private sessions, as in our monthly articles, we keep emphasizing that your objective in social media is to present yourself as a Thought-Leader. What is that? It is not someone (or a law firm) that shoots out Client Alerts whenever there is a change in the law. Usually, Client Alerts are excessively legalistic in referring to what has changed in the law.
In-house lawyers receive dozens of basically identical Client Alerts from lawyers who want their business. In-house lawyers usually only read the Client Alerts from the current law firm. So why bother?
On the other hand, you need to publish articles on a weekly or monthly basis that offer practical take-away action items that your followers can implement. From the marketing point of view, there is little value in pushing out articles that are theoretical with no down-to-earth applications. The first issue is the timeliness of your articles, weekly, if possible, but not less often than monthly.
The size of your network and the quality of your content are completely linked. The best way to grow a high-quality network is by focusing on hi-quality content.
Plants do not chase the bees. They offer delicious pollen that entices the bees to come to them. Take a lesson from the plants. Your network will grow in a more natural way when you provide high-quality content.
In transmitting your message there is an old concept for making speeches that applies to good content, that is: Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you just told them. Make sure you clearly communicate your valuable ideas right from the headline and “about” sections.
Action Item: Create and share three posts in the next month
Social Media is No Place to be Shy
In our private sessions we emphasize that the way to take advantage of LinkedIn is by opening your mouth. That is not a place to be passive and expect potential clients to come looking for you. Comment on other people’s posts and build on other people’s content. You will find that they will soon ask you to connect with them. Once you get a dialogue going with journalists, potential clients, and referral sources, you are on the road to creating a following of your own.
Action item: Google yourself. Take an objective view of the results. Do you have enough exposure? What more can you do to improve your visibility? Make an honest assessment of your profile in LinkedIn and on your Landing Page (see below) as to whether it is clear that you are someone worth connecting with and following.
Do You Have Your Own Personal Landing Page?
You want to be found easily and your own landing page is the right approach. First, do you know what a landing page is and when to use it? A landing page is a standalone web page that a visitor "lands" on after clicking through from an email, a post, or from another digital location. Once they are on your landing page, users are encouraged to take an action, such as joining your list of followers or buying some product (not your case).
The point is to make it easy for people to find you and then to connect with you.
Abuse of Social Media
From the point of view of offering your legal services to the world, you must become a Thought Leader as mentioned above. Your social media posts and commentary need to focus on your area of professional expertise.
We have seen some lawyers go crazy once they see they have a significant number of followers. What we mean is that these lawyers have lost sight of the purpose of their social media marketing efforts. Several times per week they post comments on political, social, or economic issues that are unrelated to their practice area.
Inasmuch as your followers’ opinions are just as valid as yours, these types of posts tend to drive away those of your followers who do not share your political opinions.
Action item: Avoid posting articles or commentary that will not advance your search for more clients in your area of expertise.
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