Checklist for a Client-Focused Website

10 Questions to Ensure that Your Website Attracts Clients

  1. Are your clients described on your site?

Can your clients ‘see’ themselves anywhere on your site? Is there sufficient detail so that clients will read it and say, ‘that’s me’? Does your site include testimonials from representative clients, or case studies of typical matters you handle so that clients can see the kinds of people or businesses you represent?

  1. Does your site accurately describe the legal problems/challenges faced by your clients?

More likely than not, your website gives a laundry list of practice areas. But does it talk about the specific problems your clients encounter, or the situation in which they find themselves at the time they’re seeking your advice?

  1. Does your site talk about your clients’ problems in language your clients understand?

Or does your site sound like a bunch of legal gobbledy-gook? Are the terms you use on your website the same terms your clients use to describe their problems or challenges? Use the ‘mother/child test’ – if you read your site to your mother or child, would he/she immediately understand it?

  1. Is your site easy to navigate?

Are navigation buttons clearly labeled? Are they easy to find? Do navigation buttons look like buttons? Is there navigation available at both the top and bottom of your web pages? Is your contact information easy to find?

  1. Is your site easy to read?

Are paragraphs and sentences short? Are key points highlighted or set apart from the rest of the text? Do you use headlines, bold type and spacing to give the eye a rest? Is your site easily skimmable?

  1. Does your site provide valuable information to clients to keep them returning to your site?

Is your site a resource for your clients or merely an online brochure? Do you provide clients with information, resources, case updates, facts, new information that could affect their business, changes in the law that might affect them? The more relevant content that is on your site, the more clients will keep returning. You’ll build credibility, loyalty and provide fodder for search engines.

  1. Does your site establish you as an expert in your field?

Does your site contain case studies or jury verdicts to demonstrate your expertise? Does it contain statistics, testimonials or other evidence of the results of working with you? Are there published articles on topics relevant to your clients’ business, challenges or legal problems? Do you list seminars and speeches you’ve given on your practice areas? If this information is listed on your site, is it easy to find? Is it listed in an organized fashion, by date or by category?

  1. Does your site pass the ‘so what’ test?

Clients read everything with the “what’s in it for me” mindset. To  be really effective and grab clients’ attention, you can’t just describe your office, your practice areas and your attorneys’ qualifications – you’ve got to answer the ‘so what’ – how do those things benefit the client?

Don’t just say it – show it. If your site says that you’re committed to learning the client’s needs and understanding the client’s business, you must demonstrate that on your site. Show that you know what your client’s needs are by telling a story, providing a case study, or talking about your clients’ businesses (in general terms) on your site.

  1. Do you walk clients through your site and tell them what to do?

You wouldn’t let a client wander around on their own in your office looking for an attorney’s office, the restroom, the conference room or the coffee machine, so why let them wander around your website on their own? ‘Signs’ (navigation buttons) alone aren’t enough. Give your client a tour and lead them through your site by providing suggestions about where to go next, or proposing an action step.

A client who gets lost, can’t find what they’re looking for, or doesn’t know what to do next is just as likely to click away from your site as they are to go back to the navigation bar to look for something interesting to read on your site.

  1. Does your site demonstrate the difference between you and your competitors?

Your site should be a reflection of your firm’s personality. It should give prospects an idea what it will be like to work with you and highlight the benefits and advantages your firm provides. Clients are looking for people ‘like’ them, or people they can relate to. If your site is too ‘flat’ and clients can’t get a good feel for the firm from it, they’re likely to move on.

[Infographic] Six Ways to Jumpstart Your LinkedIn Network

Is your LinkedIn network working for you?

In 2016, Dennis Kennedy, my co-author on LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, and I wrote a two-part post on LinkedIn about how lawyers can reinvigorate their LinkedIn networks. That post was subsequently combined into one post on Law Technology Today.

As we say in the article, it’s usually best to send personalized invitations to connect and to always think strategically about who you want to connect with and why, as well as what might motivate that person to want to connect with you. But we also talk about some ways to add a lot of LinkedIn connections quickly at those times when that makes strategic sense for your practice.

We discuss these six ways to expand your LinkedIn network, whether you’re brand-new to LinkedIn or you’ve had a Profile for a number of years:

  1. Uploading your contacts/address book to LinkedIn to make connecting with those you already know in the “real world” easier
  2. Sending personalized invitations – your goal is to get the other person to accept your invitation to connect, so invite wisely!
  3. Using Groups to identify and reach out to potential new (targeted) connections
  4. Connecting with fellow alumni from your college or law school
  5. Searching 2nd level connections
  6. Using LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” suggestions

Although some things have changed since we wrote the initial piece because LinkedIn changed the user interface, the main ideas remain the same – you may just need to click in a different place to find what you’re looking for.

For example, now you’ll click Continue under add personal contacts on the left side of the page under My Network to upload your address book. And LinkedIn no longer provides the radio buttons to choose how you know someone when sending an invitation to connect. Find Alumni is no longer an option under the My Network menu, but you can still connect with fellow alumni by searching for your school and then clicking the See Alumni button.

You can find Part 1 of the article here (on my LinkedIn Profile) and Part 2 here (on Dennis’ LinkedIn Profile). Or check out this great infographic the folks at Venngage made for us for a quick visual reference:

Expand Your LinkedIn Network with Legal Ease Consulting

A Simple Social Media Plan for Lawyers

A Think social media is too difficult or time consuming? Here’s a basic social media plan that only requires about 1 1/2 hours a month – although you can expand and contract it as necessary:

Improve Your Marketing in One Step: Focus on Your Clients

Focus on clientsI recently received a question from a blog subscriber, “If I did one single thing to improve my marketing what would it be?” My answer: focus on the client. Get excruciatingly clear on who your best clients are and why. Create an ideal client profile so that you can easily recognize potential clients who may fit into this category, and so that you can describe your ideal clients succinctly and consistently. This will help you educate your referral sources and help them to spot your ideal clients so that they immediately know who to refer to you.

Too many lawyers make the mistake of trying to target too broad an audience for fear of turning business away. But instead of attracting more clients, a poorly identified ideal client results in a watered down message that loses its impact and fails to elicit a response.

It is only when you have a good picture of who your ideal clients are that you can move forward to determine what is important to them, where to find them, how to attract them, how best to serve them, what processes and procedures need to be in place, which employees will work best with those clients, and more.

Who are your best clients?

Review your past and present client lists. Which clients did you work best with? Which were the most lucrative for the firm? Which were the best sources of additional business or referrals? Which clients were the most difficult? Which ones failed to pay or did not respect your advice? Which ones brought you matters that didn’t fit into your strengths? Make a list of the characteristics of good and bad clients.

The value of a client isn’t measured solely by the size of the case or the size of your fee. Valuable clients can be those who have realistic expectations, respect your advice or want the best service. Perhaps your ideal client is one who works with you on a case – or perhaps it’s just the opposite. Maybe you work best with clients who leave you alone to work your magic. Maybe your best clients are simply those who will be ‘raving fans’ and generate lots of referrals for your practice.

Once you have a preliminary idea of what a ‘high value’ client means to you, they will be easier to spot. This takes some in-depth work, but it is well worth it. When you become skilled at defining and identifying high-value clients, you waste less time and energy on lower value clients that sap your energy or cost you money and time.

Change how you talk about your practice

Listen to how most lawyers talk about their practices (or read their websites, social media posts and other marketing materials): it’s all about the lawyer, rather than being about the client. This is a mistake. Clients don’t care about you – they care about themselves and their problems. Why not change the focus of your marketing to be more in alignment with the clients’ interests?

Your marketing message should create an association for the people you are speaking to – either so that they identify themselves as your ideal clients or so that they immediately think of someone else who needs your services.

Instead of focusing your marketing message on you, focus on who you serve and what they struggle with.

Calling your clients by name

Think of your marketing message as a way of calling the name of your potential clients. Rather than making a general statement (“Hey, you!”), identifying someone by name (“Hey, Bob!”) will get their attention much easier. Bob is tuned into that information because it’s very specific to him. You want your marketing to do the same for your clients. You want them to think you’re talking directly to them – because you are.

In order to call your clients by name, you need to be intimately familiar with who those clients are. The better you know the clients you’re seeking to attract, the better your marketing efforts will be. Creating a client profile is a good way to develop that knowledge.

Keep in mind that whether your practice focuses on individuals or businesses, all of your clients are people. If you have a business to business practice, you’ll want to focus on the decision-makers – the human beings you need to connect with in order to get their work.

When creating your ideal client profile, remember that you may have a different “ideal client” for different for different areas of practice or services you provide. Dig deep. Some areas to explore include the four Ps: Psychographics, Patterns for choosing legal services, client Problems, and your Positioning.

Psychographics

Psychographics are one of the most powerful ways to connect with your clients, and also one of the most frequently overlooked. You may find that your clients are actually very different demographically, but psychographically, they have a very similar profile.

Psychographics, while less tangible, are much more accurate in predicting which people or businesses will relate best to your particular message, method or solution. Psychographics include things like your client’s mission, philosophy or values, their reputation in the industry or community, their management or communication style, integrity or litigation history. For example, do you prefer clients who are more collaborative and settlement-oriented or those who want to fight or pursue litigation regardless of the cost?

Psychographics include any belief or value that your clients strongly identify with – and they don’t necessarily have to relate directly to their business or to their legal matter.

Patterns

An important part of profiling your ideal client is determining how they choose legal services. Knowing that your clients are more likely to make the decision to hire a lawyer at certain times of the year, as the result of specific triggering events, or upon receipt of specific types of information can help you plan your services and your marketing strategy. Learn why your clients hire you, what kinds of service providers they prefer and what similar services they have used, among other issues.

Problems

One of the most effective ways to connect with clients is by identifying what problems they face. Everyone wants their problems to be solved, and if you can identify what the client perceives their problem to be (as opposed to what you think their problem is, or what lawyers generally think the problem is), you’ll get the potential client’s attention quickly – and start gaining their trust. Think about not only the problems themselves, but also about the symptoms of the problems that your clients commonly experience, and how clients typically describe them.

Use the language your clients use when crafting your marketing messages, writing copy for your website, posting on social media, or discussing what you do at a cocktail party. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. If you can do that, your marketing will automatically stand out from the rest of the lawyers in your area and it will help you build relationships.

What is it that your clients want or need? How do they talk about it? Is there an underlying result your clients wish to achieve, even if they don’t articulate it? What are the underlying emotions your clients typically experience when facing the kinds of legal problems you solve?

Positioning

Once you’ve analyzed the problems, ascertained the values and goals, and determined when and how your ideal clients choose legal services, you need to get your message in front of the right people, whether they are the clients themselves, their trusted advisors, or other referral sources. Your client profile should help you to position yourself in front of the right people if it includes an analysis of the places your ideal clients and referral sources gather.

What do your ideal clients read? What do they watch or listen to? Who influences them? What kinds of advisors do they seek? Which websites do they visit? Do they participate in social media? Where and how? Are they members of specific groups on LinkedIn, for example? Where and how do your ideal clients seek out information? What professional associations do they belong to? What types of events do they attend? What causes do they care about?

If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, ask your best clients, or do some research on your existing clients or on individuals in your target market.

The client profile will help you to focus your marketing efforts, plan effective means of reaching your ideal clients, and develop methods to serve them better. The insight it provides can be invaluable for the future of your practice. But don’t create your ideal client profile and then put it away – it is important to revisit it regularly to keep it up to date.

LinkedIn Updates and Changes Every Lawyer Should Know

LinkedIn logoLinkedIn has been busy making even more changes to its platform lately. Here’s a summary of some of the changes and updates you should know about:

Skills and Endorsements

LinkedIn’s previously named “Skills and Expertise” section has been re-named “Skills and Endorsements” in part due to feedback LinkedIn received from lawyers who advised that many jurisdictions (including mine – New York) would not allow lawyers to complete any section under the title “expertise” without special certifications. The newly-named “Skills and Endorsements” section should cause less ethics headaches for lawyers. However, there are still cautions. To learn more about endorsements, check out my article on Law Technology Today, LinkedIn Endorsements 101.

Changes to LinkedIn Company Pages

In another article on Law Technology Today, I talked about LinkedIn Company Pages. That article gives a good overview of what lawyers can do with LinkedIn Company Pages for their law firms, but as of April 14, 2014, LinkedIn will be eliminating the Products and Services tab from LinkedIn Company Pages. It turns out that not too many users were taking advantage of this feature of Company Pages. In place of the information that used to be contained in the Products and Services tab, LinkedIn recommends two options. First, you can post Updates to your Company Page about your services. These Updates will appear both on your Page and in your followers’ LinkedIn feeds. You can even include video in your Updates. While this is one option, you may want to use this option for announcements of new services or initiatives, news or other timely items, rather than general descriptions of your practice areas and services.

Your other option is to use Showcase Pages to highlight specific services that your firm might offer. Showcase Pages were introduced by LinkedIn in late 2013 as a way to highlight specific products or services, or to allow businesses to reach specific audiences who might be interested in only a segment of the company’s offerings, rather than their general Company Page updates.

Essentially, Showcase Pages are sub-pages under your main law firm Company Page on LinkedIn, but they are dedicated to one individual service that you provide. Showcase pages can be helpful for law firms who have diverse practice areas and want to post different content to different audiences. As legal marketing expert Nancy Myrland noted in her post announcing Showcase Pages last year, Showcase Pages can also be a great way to institutionalize cross-selling, because all of the Showcase Pages link back to the main Company Page and to one another.

To find out how to drive traffic to your Company Page, you may want to read my post from the Legal Ease blog, “Driving Traffic to your Law Firm Company Page.” These concepts can be applied to your Showcase Pages as well.

LinkedIn Analytics

LinkedIn has been adding some tools within the platform to help you see how much attention your LinkedIn Profile, updates and Page are getting. For example, the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature of LinkedIn now gives you lots of information about the industries and locations of the people who have viewed your Profile, as well as information about how they found you (LinkedIn search, Google search, etc.) – even with a free account (although premium accounts provide even more information). In addition, at the bottom of the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” screen, LinkedIn will also give you suggestions about how you can garner more Profile views.

If you post Updates to your LinkedIn Profile, on your Home Page LinkedIn will provide you with information about how many views and likes your recent Updates have received under “Who’s Viewed Your Updates” in the right sidebar.

If you manage a Company Page for your firm, you’ll get Analytics (stats on the number of impressions, clicks, and interaction) and Page insights (Page views, unique visitors, page clicks).

Blocking Users

LinkedIn recently made some changes that will now allow you to block individual users on the platform. Simply go to the person’s Profile that you want to block and click the down arrow next to the blue button you see on their Profile and click on “block or report.” For more details, including what blocking means on LinkedIn, stay tuned for an upcoming post on Law Technology Today explaining how you can do it.

Three Steps to Using LinkedIn [infographic]

If you’re not a regular LinkedIn user, you may be wondering what it’s all about or where to start. This infographic was developed as a quick overview of three of the steps you need to take to build your LinkedIn presence. All of these steps are covered in more detail in the recently released Second Edition of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, which is available now (for more information about the book, you can click on the book cover at the bottom of the infographic)

Using Infographics to Drive Traffic and Engagement

EngagementWith increased pressure on lawyers to develop content for blogs, websites and social media, any tool that helps increase visibility, drive traffic and boost engagement is a tool worth looking at. One such tool is the infographic.

In May of this year, I wrote about Slideshare as a tool lawyers can use to share content. That post focused mainly on presentations. But in July of this year, Slideshare released a new infographics player to make it easier to upload, discover and share infographics. Although Slideshare always allowed for the sharing of infographics through its platform, the new player optimizes the viewing experience for infographics. According to Slideshare, the new player automatically detects an infographic upon upload, includes it in the infographic directory and displays it for best viewing.

Since the launch of the new player in July, Slideshare has analyzed over 1000 infographics, and last week on their blog, Slideshare reported the following statistics:

-Infographics are liked four times more than presentations, and twenty-three times more than documents on SlideShare

-Infographics are shared two times more than presentations, and three times more than documents on other social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

Infographics can be embedded into blog posts, displayed on websites, shared on social media, or printed for handouts for presentations or as a visual aid for clients.

Want to learn more about infographics and how lawyers can use them? Check out this post I wrote on Slaw.ca on Infographics for Lawyers, or take a look at the presentation below:

Who’s Using Social Media?

Lawyers ask me all of the time whether they should get involved in social media platforms, and whether those platforms really do anything to help them build their practices or attract potential clients and referral sources.

When answering this question (or similar questions about any particular marketing endeavor), I encourage lawyers to first determine two things: first, what is their purpose or intended outcome (for example, do they want to get in front of a wider audience, have a platform for distributing content, build relationships with existing clients, or attract potential new clients, etc.?) and second, depending on that purpose, is the audience they are seeking involved in that particular activity?

If you’re seeking to target a specifically male or specifically female audience, for example, his infographic from InternetServiceProviders.org,  may help you to determine if your audience is participating on social media:


Social Gender Infographic

As I discussed in a recent post on Slaw.ca, if you have a business to business practice and in-house counsel play a role in selecting or retaining outside counsel, LinkedIn might be a good platform for you to consider. As I discussed in that post, the 2013 In-house Counsel New Media Engagement Survey revealed that more and more in-house counsel are influenced by blogs and social media, with LinkedIn’s “professional network” being the one they use most for their professional contacts.

Don’t forget that even if your audience is participating on a particular platform, you’ll need to ensure that your content fits with the culture of that particular site. It’s great to have an opportunity to communicate with your intended audience, but you’ve also got to make sure that your message will resonate, and not turn them off. For example, if your audience is on LinkedIn, don’t ignore the culture, which is one of professionalism and business-oriented discussion, rather than the more personal sharing that may occur on other platforms (such as Facebook, for example).

Google Plus for Lawyers

Google PlusI’ve been getting a lot of questions from lawyers lately about Google Plus – do they really need yet another social network to concern themselves with? The answer may depend on why you’re considering Google Plus for yourself or your law firm. Many lawyers evaluate social media platforms based on whether their clients use them. But if that describes you, at least in the case of Google Plus, you may want to adjust your thinking.

Google Plus is Google. You know – the search engine – the one everyone is always trying to ‘game,’ to pay “SEO experts” to ‘get to the top’ of, the one you may be paying for adwords or pay per click campaigns to boost your visibility or drive traffic to your website. If you’re serious about online visibility, you need to pay attention to Google Plus and Google’s related services. Google “favors” content from Google+ in its search results, and if you use Gmail and Google Contacts, they integrate with Google+, making for an easier user experience.

Finally, it’s FREE. Why ignore the free option and throw money at the paid services? And what are the chances that you will be found in organic Google search results in the future if you don’t have a presence on Google? Why take that chance?

Google+

Google+ is similar to other social networks; you create a personal (or business) profile, follow others ( by placing them in “circles”), and post content including links, photos, videos and other media. It has over 500 million registered users, of whom about 235 million are active monthly.

As with anything else, you will want to make sure your profile is credible, authoritative and contains good content and information about you.

Google+ Circles

Circles work like Friend Lists on Facebook, except that on Google+, you must add people to at least one circle (on Facebook, you can ‘friend’ someone without adding them to a specific friend list). Just as you do when choosing an audience for posts on Facebook, you can choose which Circles to share specific information with on Google Plus.

Unlike Facebook, you can add someone to a Circle without them having to add you back – it is a one-way, rather than a two way relationship. For personal profiles, if someone adds you to a Circle and you don’t add them to one of your Circles, they will only see your public posts on Google+. By contrast, business pages (discussed below) require that a user add your Page to their circles before your business page can add them to your circles.

Google+ Business Pages

Google+ also offers businesses the opportunity to set up profiles, called Google Plus Business Pages. Firms and organizations should consider consider setting up profiles on the site because there are many advantages to having a presence on the network, and Google is investing more time in business pages, as can be seen by the recent release of the Google dashboard discussed below. In addition, as mentioned above, Google wants more people to begin using Google+, and it has begun ranking posts to the network very high in its search engine. If you are at all concerned about optimizing either your personal or professional appearances in search engine results, this may be the main reason to set up a Google Plus account.

Google+ business pages can have multiple administrators, just like Facebook business pages can.

Google dashboard

Google has now made things even easier for its users by creating an integrated dashboard to help you manage your information across all of Google’s services, including not only Maps and Search, but also Plus and Local (formerly Google Places).

If you set up a Google Places account so that your firm could be seen on Google Maps and for purposes of Google search, the look of your business listing has changed to be more consistent with the look and feel of Google+, and the name has changed to Google+ Local. Now you can also combine your Google+ Local page and your Google+ Business page into one complete page that is both listed on Google Maps and incorporates the social features of Google Plus.

According to Google Engineer Pavni Diwanji, using the dashboard businesses can now:

  • Update core business information (hours, location, etc.) to Google properties such as search, maps and Google Plus.
  • Monitor notifications on their Google Plus page and manage their account
  • See “at-a-glance” data about their AdWords Express account
  • Create and manage special offers through Google Offers
  • Conduct hangouts (video chat) with fans and customers

Google+ Integration

Another advantage Google+ offers users is the ability to link to every single other one of their online profiles and websites. (Other social media sites allow the following number of outside links: Twitter-1; Facebook-2; LinkedIn-3). Google+ is the only one that allows its users to create a complete profile of all of their online activities in one place. This is also important for Google authorship, which is discussed in a bit more detail below.

If you are already using other Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, GoogleDocs, Google Calendar, etc., you can easily share anything from them with your Google+ Circles. If you use Google Ads, your click-through rates will improve if you include Google+ material. Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) allows users to post reviews and photos of places and businesses directly to their Google+ pages. Google+ Events allows users to create events and invite people to them, then share photos and videos in real-time as the events take place, and it integrates with Google Calendar.

Google+ Hangouts

Hangouts used to refer only to the Google+ free online videoconferencing feature (which supports up to 10 participants), but now hangouts encompass what used to be Google Talk – essentially a chat service which supports photos and emoticons. You can invite anyone to join you in a video hangout (whether they are a Google user or not) on the spot or you can schedule hangouts for some time in the future and invite others to attend. You can even live stream your hangouts (called Hangouts On Air). Your hangout will be recorded and then you can easily share it on YouTube and Google+.

You can host or participate in a hangout from your computer, tablet or smartphone (iOS and Android).

You can also add apps to your hangout to collaborate through Google Drive, watch YouTube videos together and more.

Google Authorship

One additional reason to consider a Google+ account is Google Authorship.

As a recent post on Copyblogger points out, Google’s purpose is to encourage great content on the web. Their algorithm is built to return the pages or sites with the best, most current and most relevant content in search results. But they’ve also started evaluating content not just based on the site and the site’s reputation, but on the reputation of the author of that content (where that information is available). To take advantage of this feature, you need to have a Google Plus account.
When you search on Google, you may have noticed that some of the search results include a thumbnail photo of the author of the article or web page, like this (you’ll see one of my blog posts listed in the results with my thumbnail photo, my name and my Google+ stats):

Google search results on LinkedIn for lawyers

This is only accomplished if you have a Google+ profile and if Google can recognize that what you write on other sites is indeed written by you. Google outlines the steps for making that happen here. Essentially, you’ll need to have a Google+ profile with a recognizable headshot first. Then you’ll need to make sure that your byline appears on the articles you write on other sites. Your byline should match your name on your Google Plus Profile. Then you’ll go through a verification process on both ends.

To learn more about Google Plus, you might want to check out these links:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2013/06/google-releases-google-plus-dashboards-for-business-pages.html
http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/Basic-Checklist-for-How-to-Rank-in-Google-Places/
http://www.copyblogger.com/google-plus-authority/
http://www.mycase.com/blog/2013/06/guest-post-kymeshia-morris-google-authorship-for-lawyers/

Are you using (or have you considered using) Google+? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Slideshare: A Content Tool Worth a Look for Lawyers

Slideshare logoEvery day it seems there’s a new tool or a new piece of technology that’s being touted as the ‘next great thing.’ Is Slideshare really worth a look for lawyers?

A couple of months ago, I did a post on content marketing on the Legal Ease blog which made the point that there is an increased demand for content in part because of the huge SEO (search engine optimization) boost it brings. That means there will be lots of people out there selling content, and much of it will be of poor quality and may not bring the desired results. (This is especially dangerous for lawyers who have specific ethical rules that must be followed – but that’s a topic for another day.) And you’ve got to keep it interesting, with different kinds of content that engages audiences in different ways. This is where Slideshare might help.

Although I’ve had an account for some time, I’ve only started actively using SlideShare recently. Here are some of the reasons I think SlideShare might be worth looking at:

  • Creating presentations forces you to convey information succinctly and more visually – both of which should improve comprehension and retention for your audience
  • Slideshare makes it easy for you to upload your presentations
  • If you already give presentations to demonstrate your expertise, SlideShare provides an extended audience for those presentations over and above those who were in the room (or on the webinar) for your presentation
  • Presentations can be a good way to educate clients and potential clients not only about what you do, but about the legal process
  • Slideshare is already optimized for search engines, so your presentations get greater visibility than if you just post them on your own site
  • Slideshare makes it easy to share or embed your presentations into a blog post, website, etc.
  • Slideshare has tracking capabilities (called Send Tracker) so that you can send a presentation by email and then see how it is viewed
  • Slideshare sends you analytics information by email so that you can see the performance of each presentation you upload – how many views, comments, tweets, likes, and downloads each presentation receives
  • You can easily update your presentations, which will automatically update embedded versions, too
  • Slideshare is not limited to presentations alone – you can upload and share PDFs and video, too
  • You can save or share presentations by others – another great content and educational resource!

To demonstrate, here’s a presentation I’ve embedded from Slideshare that might inspire you to create new (and better) presentations of your own:

If you want to see my fledgling Slideshare page, you can find it here.

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Pulse?

LinkedIn and Pulse

By now you have probably heard that Google is de-activating its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, effective July 1, 2013. For those of us that rely on RSS to keep up with current news, to follow blogs or websites, this is a huge problem, whether you use Google Reader as your RSS reader or not. Why? Because many RSS readers were using Google Reader to power their own feed readers (FeedDemon is one example).

There are alternatives feed readers to explore, some of which are free (just as Reader was), and some work through paid accounts. The ones being recommended most across the web seem to be Feedly, NewsBlur and The Old Reader. You’ll want to decide which you want to use, and part of your decision may be based on whether there are apps available for you to consume your content across different platforms (desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc.)

But while Google is shutting down its reader, LinkedIn has made an announcement this month that it has acquired Pulse, a “leading news reader and mobile content distribution platform.”

As you can see from the presentation below, LinkedIn wants to “be the definitive professional publishing platform where all professionals can:

  • Publish: Updates,comments,presentations
  • Discover: Influencers, Groups, news, Company Pages
  • Share: Share, like,comment

Here  is LinkedIn’s short slideshow announcing the news:

It remains to be seen how LinkedIn will integrate Pulse into its platform and what this will mean for both Pulse and LinkedIn users. Perhaps it will integrate into LinkedIn’s LinkedIn Today feature, which aims to deliver news daily to LinkedIn users, tailored to their interests.

Pulse has an interesting, tile-based layout that may appeal to those who respond to visuals. See below for an example:

Pulse screenshot

It’s important to me to stay up to date on industry news that affects both me and my clients, so I rely on news aggregators or feed readers to push me content that’s relevant and that I can skim through or bookmark to read offline.

As you can see, I’ve signed up for Pulse just to see what it’s like – I’m still exploring my own alternatives for Google Reader, and I’m a LinkedIn user, so I thought I’d try it. It was easy to import my existing Google Reader feeds, and I can add new ones easily using the Chrome extension (I use chrome as my web browser).

Google Reader probably won’t be the last free web application to bite the dust, and there are sure to be more changes on the horizon for LinkedIn and other social media applications. I’ll keep trying to update you as I see changes coming.

For more of my recent posts on social media changes, see:

Is the “Professional Network” Becoming More Social? (slaw.ca)

LinkedIn Endorsements 101 (Law Technology Today)

New on Facebook (Legal Ease Blog)

Using Visuals in Lawyer Marketing: Lawyer Meltdown Newsletter October 2012

Using Visuals in Lawyer Marketing

Visuals - eye

Whether you believe the theories about the differences in learning styles (some people learn better visually, some by listening, etc.) or not, it is hard to deny that the world has become more and more visual. This may be due in part to the massive increase in online activity; people read and consume information differently online than they do offline, skimming and scanning more than reading. This is further bolstered by the explosion in the use of mobile devices, which were not built for reading lots of text.

Visuals Capture Attention

If a picture really is worth a thousand words and you only have a small amount of time to capture attention and get your message across, pictures may be able to do it faster. John Medina, author of the bestseller Brain Rulessays, “vision trumps all other senses.” In terms of learning and memory, there is no comparison.

Experts writing for Psychology Today say that visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information, which “make complete sense when you consider that …. the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.”

The lesson? If you want clients and potential clients to remember you, visuals are key.

When exhorting marketers to invest in visual content creation, Hubspot cites a Shareaholic study that revealed that Pinterest (a highly visual, photo-dominated platform, with very limited text) generates more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined; only Facebook and StumbleUpon generate more. Studies have also shown that visuals attract more attention in Facebook posts. And even LinkedIn is changing its look and feel to a more visual layout for Company Pages.

According to an article from the editors of CRM magazine, Generation Y is more likely to read news online, and 2/3 watch TV online. Most have a smartphone or other device with them at all times. That makes it more and more likely that your website and other marketing information will be viewed or accessed from a mobile device, where text is difficult to read and visuals rule. The article quotes Kit Yarrow, a psychology and marketing professor at Golden Gate University and author of the book Gen BuY, who says, “With this generation, everything has to be visual and contextual.”

As a result, it may be time for lawyers to learn how to use visuals, graphics and images to support their marketing and their overall message.

Make Visuals Match Your Purpose

As with all marketing initiatives, any analysis of what you are doing currently or what you are considering doing in the future needs to begin with your purpose. It is only once you have a clear idea of the goals you would like to achieve with your marketing that you can determine whether to embrace something new and how to implement it.

Let’s take your law firm’s website as an example. Most law firm websites are text-heavy, with few, if any graphics, images or visuals. If you want to add visual elements, the purpose of your site (and the individual pages on that site) can help you determine which content or message is most important for your visitors to receive at that time. Then you can determine how to incorporate visual elements t support and highlight that message.

You site may serve several functions, including:

 

  • Educating potential clients about the issues they may face when making  a particular business decision
  • Describing your solution to those problems
  • Establishing your expertise in the area
  • Educating potential clients about the issues they need to be aware of when looking for a lawyer

 

Each individual page of your website cannot possibly try to meet all of those functions at the same time, and if you simply add visuals to your existing text, you may be creating more of a distraction for your web visitors, with consequences like causing them to leave your site, or distracting them from the most important information that you want them to learn and/or retain on the page.

For example, although social media can be a helpful tool for spreading your content and engaging with potential clients and referral sources, too many social media sharing buttons do more harm than good. They can slow load time, actually prevent sharing by presenting too many options, leading to confusion, or they may generate traffic but decrease actual engagement.

Graphic and visual elements are important, but only once you have determined the purpose for your site (and each page) and the most important content on the site. Then you can use visuals to enhance and draw attention to the important elements and content on the page.

If you need help incorporating visual elements into your marketing, contact me atAllison@LegalEaseConsulting.com or call 631-642-0221 to see how I can help.

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Network? (Part II)

networkingThis is Part II of my article, “Are You Getting the Most out of Your Network.” You can read Part I here.

The Harvard Business Review article that inspired the article recommends ‘mapping’ your network – listing your contacts in the first column, who introduced you to that contact in the second column, and the people you introduced that contact to in the third column. If the second column contains too many instances where you met the contact yourself, chances are you may be using the self-similarity principle to build your network. If another name appears frequently in the second column, that person may be a ‘superconnector.’

A superconnector is someone who readily shares their diverse contacts. Paying attention to who your superconnectors are and cultivating those relationships is an important part of building your network. It makes sense to think about how you met your superconnectors, too – what kinds of activities bring you into contact with superconnectors? The article authors suggest looking for superconnectors who may not be in a position of formal authority, but are still good connectors. This is good advice, since those who are in positions of formal authority (whether good connectors or not) are often difficult to get to because everyone else is seeking them out and trying to get into their good graces. Other superconnectors may help diversify your network.

Reviewing the third column of your ‘network map’ helps you see what kind of connector you are, and what activities lead you to make connections between your own contacts.

On a related note, even if you decide that sitting down and ‘mapping’ your entire network isn’t for you, every lawyer should keep track of their contacts somehow. If this information is stored electronically, it is particularly easy to make a note of where, how, and when you met the contact, and/or who introduced you to the contact. You should, as a matter of routine, keep this kind of information about all of your clients. It always makes sense to know where your business is coming from, so that you can continue to cultivate those referral sources, and find similar ones.

Finally, don’t forget to thank your referral sources, whether they are clients, former clients, attorneys or other contacts, regardless of whether you are hired. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a very long way toward continuing the relationship.

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Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Network? (Part I)

NetworkingI just read a great article in the December 2005 Harvard Business Review, entitled, “How to Build Your Network,” by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap. The article also references The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Both are interesting reads about how networks work,and how to make them work effectively for you.

When I was still with my firm, once some of the attorneys really began to get interested in marketing, they found some networking groups to join. Before long, although different attorneys from the office had joined different groups, they noticed that they were seeing all of the same people. The contacts we were making as a firm weren’t as broad as we expected, because the groups were populated by all of the same people.

According to Uzzi and Dunlap, there are a number of factors that can contribute to these kinds of network problems. The first is the ‘self-similarity principle;’ when making contacts, we choose people who are too similar to us. Another problem in network building is the ‘proximity principle,’ in which people tend to populate their networks with people they spend the most time with. These two factors can result in what Uzzi and Dunlap call the ‘echo chamber’ effect, when over time, people introduce their contacts to one another, and the similarity of thought and skill reverberates.

One thing to keep in mind when building your network or deciding how to spend your ‘marketing’ time is that the point of a network is to introduce you to people you wouldn’t meet otherwise. It’s to make diverse contacts. Often, attorneys look at networking just as a way to meet clients directly. But a network should be a way of extending your reach to all kinds of people, whether the people you meet directly end up being clients or not. You want to meet people who can introduce you to potential clients, or who can be good referral sources. But you also want to meet other kinds of people who might be able to help you in your practice in other ways. Often, you don’t know who the best referral sources will be, or where your best ‘help’ will come from.

A lot of attorneys, particularly younger attorneys looking to start building a network, are concerned about joining the ‘right’ groups, and many attorneys end up joining only groups that suffer from the similarity principle or the proximity principle, or both. They do all of their networking with other attorneys, or go to events and only ‘hang out’ with the people they know, rather than being open to meeting new people. Or they think they have to join groups that are specifically touted as ‘networking groups,’ some of which run afoul of some states’ ethical rules.

Although there’s nothing wrong with networking with other attorneys or going to events and spending time with friends and colleagues, attorneys often make the mistake of expecting that kind of activity alone is going to siginficantly expand their network. Or they complain that networking isn’t effective. The problem isn’t that ‘networking’ isn’t effective – it’s that the way they go about it isn’t effective.

So, how do you make networking work for you? Reconsider the groups you join and the way you spend your time. Uzzi and Dunlap recommend using the ‘shared activity principle,’ or expanding your network through “relatively high-stakes activities that connect you with diverse others.” They describe high stakes activities as “activities that evoke passion in participants, necessitate interdependence, and have something at stake.” Caring passionately about something makes it easier to fit into your schedule, relying on others and working toward a goal can build relationships and trust quickly. Contrast that with the more typical ‘networking’ event or meeting where interactions are much more fleeting and controlled.

To make it simple, your network doesn’t have to be built strictly for your business, and probably is less effective if it is. Building your network around what you like to do, and how you prefer to spend your time, is more enjoyable and more effective, and can build more lasting relationships. And after all, being a good lawyer is all about building relationships. So think twice about cutting out those ‘outside’ activities to spend more time at the office – it may be that the people you meet and the connections you make by being involved in that youth soccer league, the local hospital or nonprofit board, the annual fundraiser, or the roadrunner’s club, are an even better investment you can make in your practice.

If you liked this article, read How to Get the Most out of Your Network, Part II.

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Already a subscriber? Want to learn how I can help you? Learn more about the products and services I offer by clicking here.

Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com. I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!

Don’t Be a Wallflower: Networking Alone

wallflowerEver been to a law firm event and seen lawyers from the same firm stuck together all night like conjoined twins, not interacting with anyone else?

Unfortunately, the tendency for colleagues to stick together at events such as this and not talk to anyone else is very common – even among firm veterans. And it’s a huge wasted opportunity. However, I must admit that I’ve been guilty of this myself. The good news is that these opportunities keep coming, and that anyone can learn to take advantage of them.

Although some might suggest that lawyers in this situation should, “drop your friend and go meet new people,” for some, that’s much easier said than done. I often encourage people to bring a friend to a networking event, because it can make you feel more comfortable, and sometimes can help you network even more effectively. But don’t just stand in the corner and only talk to your friend. Instead, use your friend to help you meet new people.

If you’re too nervous to ‘go it alone,’ here are some suggestions:

1. Set some objectives with your friend ahead of time – perhaps there is a specific person who will be attending the event and whom you would like to meet – tell your friend that your goal is to meet that person during the event. Sharing your goal with someone else makes it much more likely that you’ll meet it. You can help each other reach your goals directly, or just agree to follow up with one another afterwards. If you didn’t meet your goals, talk about why, and how you might be able to help each other next time.

2. A variation on the above is to make the event a game – challenge your friend to see who can meet the most new people in a specific period of time. But don’t forget that the point is to make meaningful connections, not to just collect business cards or make meaningless introductions. Perhaps make it a requirement that you have to find out at least three things about each person you meet. Be creative. Regroup with your friend and share your info. Or better yet, introduce your new ‘connection’ to your friend. You can agree on a reward for the ‘winner’ of your game, too – maybe the winner pays for lunch, coffee, or drinks.

3. Pretend you’re the host. Make it your mission to ensure that all of your ‘guests’ enjoy themselves. A self-proclaimed introvert who belongs to a marketing forum with me came up with this suggestion. She says that when she pretends she’s the host, it’s often easier for her to talk to people that she doesn’t know. If the event is one that’s sponsored by your firm (like the one Jonathan discusses in his post), in a sense, you are the host. Introduce yourself and explain that you’re with the firm. Often, that’s enough to start a conversation going.

4. Another self-proclaimed introvert offers this suggestion: volunteer to help out with the event. As a volunteer, or someone who is ‘part of’ the event, you’ll often have access to people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. And sometimes it’s easier to start a conversation because you’ll have something to talk about. As someone who is ‘in the know,’ you can answer questions or offer to help attendees find things. Once people realize you have the ‘inside scoop,’ they’ll often seek you out, rather than the other way around. If your firm is sponsoring the event, volunteering can win you points with the boss for being a team player, too.

5. Many of us have a much easier time talking about other people than we do talking about ourselves. When you bring a friend to an event, pretend that your purpose at the event is to introduce your friend to lots of people – to make connections for your friend. You can brag about your friend’s accomplishments without feeling uncomfortable. And your friend can do the same for you.

Attending an event with a colleague can reap rewards for both of you, if you’re creative and you make it fun.

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If you liked these articles, subscribe to my e-newsletter, and you’ll receive new articles in your in-box. The articles in the newsletter are not available to the public – the only way to see those articles is to receive the newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Want to learn how I can help you? Learn more about the products and services I offer by clicking here.

Allison

Allison C. Shields
Legal Ease Consulting, Inc
Creating Productive, Profitable and Enjoyable Law Practices

P.S. Found a mistake or a bug? If there’s anything that bothers you about this site, I want to know! Send me an email at Allison@LegalEaseConsulting.com. I want this site to be not just a resource, but a refuge for lawyers. I want you to be comfortable here.  So if there’s something that bothers you, please tell me!