Let’s Get Digital: Focusing on Your Online Presence in 2021

By Rebecca Edwards, senior marketing and business development manager at Williams Mullen

2020 has been a heck of a year. It has ushered in a sea of change, from how we live our lives to how we conduct business. And that includes marketing and business development.

One of the most surprising outcomes, in my opinion, has been watching law firms embrace technology. Never in my wildest (okay, the most boring of my wildest) dreams did I think I would see widespread use of video platforms and the mobilization of a remote workforce become commonplace in law firms. 

And while we anxiously await the day when we can once again meet in real life, we need to continue to embrace this virtual world by maximizing our digital presence to drive marketing and business development efforts in the meantime. This article focuses on two core avenues to boost your online presence in 2021.

LinkedIn

According to Samantha McKenna, founder of #samsales Consulting, LinkedIn is the place to be.

“LinkedIn profiles for attorneys average a view rate of 2.8x that of a law firm’s website bio. Your prospective customers want to see information about their potential counsel in a format that is familiar to them. If your profile lacks the information they’re looking for, they likely won’t take the time to find your firm bio, but rather move on to another lawyer, particularly if they found you via search results.” 

By the end of Q1 2020, Microsoft reported that LinkedIn usage had increased by 26 percent with “record levels of engagement,” demonstrating that if professionals aren’t able to gather in person, they will find another avenue. Here are a few tips to leverage the platform:  

  1. Update your bio. Work with your marketing department to tailor a bio specifically for this platform. 
  2. Connect with clients and other contacts. Make a list of your key clients and contacts, including referral sources, law school classmates, former colleagues, etc., and send personalized invitations to connect. 
  3. Engage with your network. This means more than simply liking posts and the occasional congratulatory message. Post thoughtful commentary that showcases your experience and expertise. Engagement breeds engagement. The more you actively engage with the content your contacts share, the more likely they will do the same with yours, which will further raise your profile, and in turn, create ROI.
  4. Share content. If your firm is like most firms, you and your colleagues have been churning out a ton of valuable content in 2020. Use it. Share it. Most importantly, add context. As Connor Kinnear, chief marketing officer at Passle, stated at the October 2020 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, lawyers carry the gravitas of being experts. He further explained that “Edelman, the pre-eminent experts on B2B PR, have found that of all the voices in the community, it is the experts that are most trusted and valued by the market,” and “to reach new clients, position your firm as a trusted advisor by regularly demonstrating your expertise to the market at large.” As such, lawyers should feel comfortable providing analysis of current news as it impacts the law.
  5. Identify new prospective clients. The search feature can do more than research “Rebecca Edwards.” It also can lead you to your target market. Pose a query like, “General Counsel,” and then drill down to locations, companies, etc. 

Firm Bio

Law firm bios are read more than any other page on a firm’s website. As Gina Rubel, chief executive officer of Furia Rubel Communications, stated in her article, “Tips for Writing Effective Attorney Bios,” “Most visitors enter a law firm’s website through a personal biography page for an individual attorney.”

Further, Rubel shared that 90 percent of in-house counsel rely on attorney bios when researching and hiring outside counsel. This is why ensuring your bio is an accurate reflection of your experience is so important. 

Here are a few things to focus on: 

  1. Know your audience. Is the person hiring you for legal services an in-house counsel or the business owner? Write with that individual in mind, which may mean writing in layman’s terms vs. legalese. 
  2. Use keywords. What keywords would your target audience use when searching for a lawyer? For a venture capital lawyer, that may mean “startup” or “entrepreneurs.” Make sure you use those words in your bio to boost search engine optimization (SEO).
  3. Add experience. Would you hire a roofer if they didn’t demonstrate their track-record of installing lasting shingles? No. So, why would a CEO hire you to defend them in their most significant litigation if you don’t demonstrate that you have successfully managed similar matters in the past. Take time to think through recent matters to start compiling your list of recent experience. 
  4. Be relatable. We know that this is a relationship business. In a time when it is harder to find opportunities to showcase your personality, make sure to build that content into your narrative. This can include anything from your commitment to pro bono service or your community involvement to work as a softball coach. It’s the little things that could spark a very real connection with your target audience.

Take the time you would have spent travelling for business or attending holiday cocktail parties to make meaningful updates to your LinkedIn profile and firm bio now and into 2021. But, be mindful that this isn’t a one and done situation. In order to maximize these efforts, make visiting, posting and commenting on LinkedIn a weekly or daily activity, and revisit your bio quarterly to ensure it stays fresh.

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