Last week, we delved into some methods for leveraging your law firm or referral networks to provide additional value. Building on that theme this week, we’re going to look at three opportunities to develop fertile ground for further relationship and business development within your networks, among your clients, and within your jurisdiction.

Content

As a recommendation for building relationships within your networks, we suggested co-authoring articles on areas of mutual interest. Of course, content doesn’t end here – law firms are already fairly expert at producing a fair amount of content, whether it’s articles, blog posts, podcasts, video, client alerts, etc. You can start to leverage content from your fellow network members in a strategic way that will benefit both of you.

  • Thanks to last week’s post, you’ve already done your research and strategy preparation, so you have your list of six jurisdictions and key practice/industry areas that you’re focused on in terms of what makes the most sense for your firm and your network. Reach out to these firms and ask for their permission to include their content in with your own that is delivered to your clients and firm audiences. Include targeted, relevant articles, alerts, etc. in your newsletters, alerts, etc. to showcase the breadth of your firm, the expertise of your fellow members, and get your clients to begin thinking regularly about referrals and multi-jurisdictional opportunities.
  • Start sharing some of this same content internally to get other lawyers within your firm comfortable with understanding the firm’s reach thanks to your network, and also to help the network become top-of-mind (it just *may* cut down on the “does anyone know a lawyer in…” emails that you get daily). Don’t forget to follow up on these internal efforts with periodic in-person presentations at firm retreats and lunches about best practices for engaging with the network, and encouraging your colleagues to undertake the steps we discussed in the last post on their own.
  • Use the content that your fellow members are writing as a springboard to write your own commentary – as you would with outside inspiration, cite your fellow members and add your own thoughts on similar laws, recent legislation, decisions, etc. for your own jurisdiction that may similarly impact your clients. This highlights collaboration, as well as your own expertise. Don’t forget to then send your content back to the original authoring firm to share with their own clients as well, and to the network itself to share more broadly.

Collateral

It can feel like adding a logo or a few words to your website is really just the purview of your marketing department or CMO, and that’s where the relevance ends for you. But collateral materials present an opportunity for lawyers as well, to use as a point of conversation with clients and prospects, as well as in your external market.

  • If you haven’t already, ask your network for a copy of the logo and their standard wording for consistency. Include this in your email signature, website, business cards, and on all press releases and pitches for new work. The network should also be willing to work with you to provide you with a standard copy of their brochure, but also any customized collateral should you need something specific.
  • It highlights the breadth of the firm’s reach, showcasing your ability to reach out at a moment’s notice to jurisdictions around the world. But it’s more than that – use it as a way to open conversations with clients to ask about their needs in other jurisdictions and how you may be able to assist them. Reinforce the network membership within the firm and the marketplace to expose other potential opportunities when prospects realize that you have the power of a larger network behind you. Reinforce the global brand of the network when you (and each of your fellow members) consistently reminds their local jurisdiction that the firm acts independently, but also collaboratively. While the branding may lead to incoming questions, don’t be afraid to use it to raise these questions directly.
  • Use all opportunities to reinforce this message – the above are some of the more obvious ones, but any time you would mention your firm is a chance to mention your network as well. This includes media mentions, blog posts, article bylines, etc. Each of these invites the question from your colleagues, clients, and informal networks to discuss further how your membership in a larger organization can benefit them. If you’re not well-versed in what the benefits are for your clients and colleagues, work with both your firm’s marketing professionals and your network to identify the talking points you need to become more comfortable in answering those questions.

Social Media

You may be sick of hearing about using social media for business development, but my guess is that most of you probably also checked LinkedIn or Facebook today, right? I’m not here to suggest you give up several hours of your life to spend on social media, but employing a few strategic tactics can make your use of it a little bit more valuable. My suggestions are going to focus primarily on LinkedIn, but don’t be afraid to expand these to whichever social media platform you feel most comfortable using.

  • Encourage your colleagues to connect with other members of the network on LinkedIn, either directly or through any groups the network has facilitated. These can be general, or focused around practice or industry groups. If this seems particularly daunting for them, suggest that they go through the exercises that we undertook in last week’s post to identify their top six jurisdictions and practice/industry areas, so they can be a little bit more targeted in their engagement. You can also introduce them directly to other people (but that does require a little bit more work on your part). Getting your colleagues connected to other network members (and particularly getting them connected to the network administration) will help to engage them more regularly in what the network is doing, the opportunities that exist for them to become more involved, and will help it to become more top-of-mind for them. The more engaged they are, the more value they will find for themselves, for their clients, and for the firm.
  • Start by being a giver. Take your list of six jurisdictions, and use the search function on LinkedIn to find the connections that you have in those cities. Review those lists, and find out whether there are clients or referral sources there that you would be willing to introduce the network members in those markets to. You may not even realize that you’re already connected to people in those cities, and you can make yourself valuable to your fellow network members by making these introductions. LinkedIn allows for you to make the introductions directly through their platform, but ideally, you’d do it in a more personal way – either by setting up a call or best of all, setting up an in-person meeting the next time you’re traveling to that city. Yes, this does seem very altruistic, but you’re showing yourself to be of value to your network by making connections. The more valuable you are, ultimately, the more others will also want to help you.
  • Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect, share and collaborate. LinkedIn can be a great source for research and other information. As you scroll through your timeline, and like or comment on articles or posts, look for ways to engage your fellow members in those posts. For example, if you share a practice area with someone, and you comment on an article that someone posts about a recent decision in that area, tag the network member to ask them to add their opinion as well. It increases your opportunities for conversation throughout the year, and if it’s interesting enough, it might be a topic to consider using for co-authoring an article. You’re already doing the work of scrolling through the timeline, so why not just add in a little bit of extra consideration and networking, that could result in some relationship development?

Thinking a little bit differently about some of these more traditional marketing techniques can translate them into relationship and business development efforts that will add value to your law firm and referral networks.