Whether you work for a large law firm in the city or a small firm in the ‘burbs, clients want to know who’s behind the corporate brand. They want to connect with the person with whom they’re about to share their painful, often devastating, story. They want someone they can trust.
Same with other lawyers who need to refer cases or recommend you for speaking and writing gigs. In order to do so, they have to get to know you, and they do that by looking online. If you’re not building your online presence and unique voice, you’re missing out.
How do you go about establishing a meaningful and rewarding online voice? Blogging and social media, for starters. The platforms can be used to engage, build relationships, and establish expertise, but to be consistent and successful, you need a strategy.
Which leads to an excellent piece I came across earlier today, Building Your Online Brand Voice. Authors, Roopa Unnikrishan (@roopaonline) and Sree Sreenivasan (@sree) note that just like in real life, active [online] networking is a key strategy to building a core personal and business brand. In the article, chock full of good advice, they include a few concrete steps to building your online voice. Here are a choice few with my comments:
- Identify your brand drivers – What is your unique selling proposition for delivering legal services? What differentiates you from the other lawyers in your field? What pithy line do people associate with your name?
- Recognize your voice: Be clear on how you want to sound online – be your authentic self, but I would posit that when someone is in trouble and they’re looking for help, thoughtful and helpful beats irreverent and provocative.
- Be clear on your goal: Are you selling or influencing? Both are important, but branding is about the latter, not the former. I’d add “informing” to this. “Selling” is a no-no and “influencing” takes some effort, consistency, and purpose. Building a voice that knows and understands a client’s particular problem or that a colleague can relate to is meaningful and impactful. And doable.
- Experiment with platforms – Don’t try to be everywhere. It’s exhausting and impossible to sustain. Be where your clients and influencers are. The big three: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are usually enough, unless you have a niche practice that appeals to people who hang out on Instagram or Pinterest or Reddit. If one is not working for you, drop it and concentrate your efforts on the ones that do.
- Choose a few paid tools that can make your work easier – The authors recommended Crowdbooster, Hootsuite, and SocialFlow. See, also: 21 Tools For Lawyers Who Blog.
Finally, the authors advise, “take that big next step – let your physical and virtual worlds collide. Find those people you meet in routine and professional events, online. Engage with them, watch them, be supportive of them. Then draw the insights you see online into real life.”
Anyone who’s been on Twitter can observe how this works. You follow people you admire and want to learn from, or simply want to be friends with, engage them, and the first time you meet in person at a conference or event, it’s like old friends getting together. That solidifies your relationships online and off, a confirmation of and reward for your consistent efforts in building your online voice.
Note: Not only did I link to the article that inspired this post, I included the authors’ Twitter handles making it easy for readers to find them and for me to acknowledge them when I tweet it out. This helps to establish and build relationships online. Thanks to @kevinokeefe for the tip and example.