Last week, we talked about content as a means for building relationships, while some of our more traditional methods for relationship-building are on hold. “But HOW do I do that?” you may ask?

Lawyers and law firms often think of content marketing as a solo activity. While you may have a strategy that is firm or practice-wide, in general, you’re thinking of the producers of the content for that strategy as individuals.

But what about co-creating content?

I read a great piece recently on 9 Free Tools to Co-Create Content, which not only included some great resources, but also some excellent inspiration for ways we can be better content collaborators.

Before we get into the HOW, let’s talk about the WHY.

The article’s author, Ann Smarty, tells us that co-creating content can help you to achieve the following goals:

  • Build relationships with niche influencers (with whom you co-create content)
  • Create more diverse and in-depth content (easier to find more angles and discover more marketing channels)
  • Produce more content (collaboration improves your productivity)
  • Build more exposure (co-writers and co-editors more willing to promote the piece since they participated)”

I think we can all agree that these are goals we’d like to focus on! Imagine, for example, that there’s a client you’d like to get more work from, but you’re having trouble finding yet another reason to call him or her. Suggest co-authoring an article or blog post on a topic of mutual interest, from both sides of the table, and use that collaboration as a jumping off point to work together. Or invite him or her on a podcast that you’ve started, and interview them about the challenges their facing during the pandemic.

You’re not trying to make hard sells here; you’re simply trying to collaborate with other experts that you respect and admire to produce worthwhile thought pieces for a common audience.

With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of ways you may want to co-create content!

Tip One: Co-write

Co-writing is the obvious one, but that doesn’t mean we skip over it. This is great for writers of all levels – those just getting started right up through regular authors and bloggers.

You’ve got a lot of options to consider when looking at co-writing:

  • Colleagues in your practice area: you can co-write a piece on a relevant topic that highlights the collective strength of your department.
  • Colleagues from different practice areas: you can co-write a piece that showcases the breadth of expertise at your firm (think cross-selling, but less painful).
  • Influencers in the industry: You know who the experts are, and they may be people that you feel you should be better connected to. Offer to write a piece together to not only get on their radar screen, but also give them a reason to share your work now and in the future.
  • Existing clients: As I mentioned above, existing clients are an excellent source to consider for co-authoring articles. I’ve attended several panel discussions where in-house counsel have commented that they were surprised that more of their clients weren’t asking them to do just that – it was something they’d really like to be doing more of. So the willingness is likely there with some (of course it won’t be the case with all of them), and at the minimum, it’s opening a dialogue between you and the clients that you reach out to.
  • Potential clients: This would be the toughest pool, but it can act as a foot in the door for you. If there is a client that you would like to get work from, and haven’t been able to, reach out to them to pitch co-authoring an article. We all know that this is a relationship business, and it’s an opportunity to build a relationship with that person. The worst that they can say is no!

Take a look through Smarty’s suggestions for collaboration tools for writing – I know lawyers are a tough group when it comes to embracing new technology (come on, you know it’s true), but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you’re MUCH more adaptable than you ever thought you could be!

And remember, the above tips also can be applied for podcasting and videocasting too – if you have a podcast, or are considering developing one, one of the easiest things to do is to invite guests on to speak with you. Yes, it’s more challenging that passing a written piece of work back and forth that you both agree final edits to, but it’s a fantastic way to build relationships, drill down to some of the issues your clients may be facing or the expertise that your fellow colleagues have, and leverage and really popular medium.

Tip Two: Co-Teach

This is the one that really sparked my interest. Many lawyers are great teachers, and work at law schools while practicing, and afterwards. So why not take that show on the internet, and co-teach online? You’re looking at the same possible collaborators as above, and expanding your network and reach in a more ongoing way than an article or blog post would achieve.

There is obviously more work and commitment involved in this latter suggestion, but the relationship-development benefits are astronomical, and if you record the sessions and package them, they can market for you for a long time to come.

This can be further expanded to other areas too. Why not do a road show of presentations with a client (keep this online until the pandemic allows a more in-person version)? One of my lawyers did this with one of his top clients – his client was an excellent speaker on the inside counsel perspective, so he teamed up with my lawyer, and they did a series of presentations together across the country, which were very well-received. They played well off of each other, and it was an opportunity not only to deepen the relationship between them, but also to strengthen their dual brands.

So get creative with collaborating. Smarty gives you some online tools, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these – find your own way, collaborate offline and online, and just co-create however you can.

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.