December 2008 Archives

December 22, 2008

Don't Leave the Listserv Off Your List When it Comes to Marketing

Without a doubt, social networking was the hottest new trend in marketing in 2008, and is destined to gain even more traction in 2009.  I'll be posting more about social networking at this blog, though if you can't wait, you're welcome to download my free ebook, Social Networking for Lawyers

However, as powerful as social networking may be, lawyers shouldn't neglect the listserv as a valuable tool for marketing.  For a variety of reasons, some lawyers have not made the transition to social networking, nor do they have any intention of doing so. Yet, these lawyers may be a source of referrals, or may need to collaborate with another lawyer or outsource a project.  By ignoring listservs, you miss out on a potential source of work.

In many ways, listservs are a precursor to social networking tools.  Listservs are essentially a mailing list dedicated to a particular topic where users can post messages and receive responses via email.  Listservs enable users to ask each other questions, exchange information, and engage in conversations on a variety of topics.  Over time, many listservs may morph from pure business to include personal discussion as well, thus creating the same sense of community as social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Solosez is perhaps one of the best known listservs for solo and small firm lawyers.  Now a decade old, Solosez boasts more than 3,000 members, making it -- as some refer to it -- the nation's largest virtual law firm.  These days, most state bar sections have listservs, as do specialty bar associations dedicated to practice area specialties like litigation, estate planning, or bankruptcy.

Some lawyers prefer the convenience of a listserv, since messages flow directly into their inbox instead of requiring them to log on to a site.  On the other hand, some lawyers avoid listservs, particularly high volume ones like Solosez, because the thought of 150 daily emails flooding their inbox is overwhelming -- though the email problem is easily cured if you manage your participation properly

 Below are a few tips for maximizing the marketing value of a listserv in your practice.

1.  Choose your lists wisely

Just because listservs are a useful marketing tool doesn't mean that you need to go overboard.  Limit yourself to two or three lists, with at least one of them being a low volume list.  If you spread yourself too thin, you'll either find yourself reading emails all day long or you won't have time to participate meaningfully in any of the lists.

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December 9, 2008

Take a Vacation from Holiday Networking Events By Hosting Your Own

The holiday season has descended in all its glory, and like most lawyers, you probably find yourself with a stack of invitations to bar association lunches, charitable events, and holiday cocktail hours and parties.  So you trek dutifully from event to event, exchanging business cards and pleasantries with dull colleagues whom you see only a few times a year at these types of gatherings and who've never sent you a dime's worth of business.  Maybe worse, the others ignore you entirely, so you resign yourself to observing from the corner, stuffing yourself with cardboard crackers and bland cheese.  And suddenly, the holiday season, which ought to be joyful and uplifting, morphs into an enervating experience.

Guess what?  Networking doesn't have to be this way.  In fact, if you dread or loathe networking events, your distaste will come across in your interactions, thereby further reducing the likelihood of meeting anyone worthwhile.  Why not take a vacation from holiday networking events by holding your own?

You'll find many advantages to sponsoring your own holiday event.  First, you control who you invite, so you can include people you actually want to spend time with, or colleagues who've sent you work or helped you out in the past.  Second, you make yourself the center of attention at your own party by greeting guests and introducing them to each other.  Third, let's face it -- you're not the only person who's grown tired of bar events.  Most lawyers can't stand them and will welcome a chance to hang out in a relaxed environment with a small group of colleagues.  Finally, when you host a party, people appreciate the initiative.  They'll call in advance to ask what they can bring, and likely call afterwards to thank you for a good time, or for introducing them to a potential business contact.  Thus, without any further action, you remain in touch with colleagues long after the party ends and solidify relationships that may eventually yield business.

As for planning a party, it's never been easier than with the Internet.  Use Evite or email to get the word out and collect RSVPs.  You can hold the party in your office or the backroom of a casual restaurant or bar.  There's no need to spend lots of money and in fact, in these economic times, a lavish party may be regarded in poor taste. If you're feeling charitable at this time of year, you can organize a group of lawyers to staff an intake night at a local clinic, or ask them to bring toys or food for the needy to the party.

If you act quickly, you may have time to squeeze in an event before the end of the year.  If not, no worries.  Instead of a holiday party in 2008, why not organize the first post-New Year's party of 2009?
December 1, 2008

Why Sharing Documents Online Can Help You Get A Share of SEO

Okay, so you've written an interesting article for a client newsletter or a local media publication.  Trouble is, your newsletter only goes to subscribers, while the local media publication isn't even Internet accessible.  And while you can scan the article and upload it to your website, even that may not buy you much more mileage because the document's text may not get picked up effectively by search engines.

Truth is, without a decent presence on the Internet, that article just doesn't have much of a shelf life, marketing-wise. And when you realize that, you'll probably find yourself less likely to write another article, which will reduce your marketing efforts even more.

Fortunately, there's a simple solution to this problem:  Article archiving services -- such as JD Supra, DocStoc and Scribd, to name a few -- don't just enable you to easily post your documents online, they can actually help supercharge the search engine visibility of your written work.

The theory behind article archive sites is to give authors a chance to share their work product with others and to provide a convenient way for others to view the article without having to go through the trouble of downloading a cumbersome PDF file.  JD Supra is geared specifically toward lawyer work product, while DocStoc and Scribd serve as repositories for a wide range of written materials.  You needn't limit yourself to just one site, however.  Starting out, you might experiment with uploading the same document at several sites and evaluate which produces the best result.

Why Lawyers Have Nothing to Fear from Sharing Documents

As far as I can tell, lawyers haven't been using article archiving sites pervasively or regularly, though that is starting to change.  Still, some lawyers shy away from using article archive sites for several reasons, all of which I'll address.  First, some lawyers harbor concerns about posting pleadings or other public filings that might infringe on their clients' privacy.  Though most courts offer electronic filing and house court files online, these are generally not visible in search engines.  Concerns about client privacy are valid, however, and you should seek a client's approval before posting filings from an active case online.

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