If you’re still using that book with a primary color in the name (hint:  it’s not red or blue) to advertise your legal skills and expertise, you may want to rethink your business development and marketing strategy.  Gone are the days of rotary club lunch intros, martini lunches (bummer!), and chamber of commerce referrals. The world of advertising and marketing (“connectivity”) is now almost exclusively on-line. And on-line doesn’t mean just having a landing page or website (that’s soooo 2009!); it also means leveraging social media and utilizing 2018 tech tools to create a digital footprint as well as follow others’. Yes! That scary little phrase everyone keeps talking about – SOCIAL MEDIA – has many a lawyer scratching their head and asking themselves, ‘But how does social media help me with actual business development?’

Because the world is on-line, you and your firm need to be too. An on-line presence is very important when building an individual’s professional brand, as well as a firm brand. Creating name recognition and keeping your firm top-of-mind for referral opportunities are marketing 101; that’s the goal. And using a variety of social media platforms to accomplish that end is very useful and effective.

If you’re at a mid-to-large law firm, the marketing dollars are likely used for the firm and its brand as an entire entity – not its individual lawyers or practice groups – so, it’s important to create and expand your own brand, which can be done with the following social media vehicles:

LINKEDIN — EVERY BUSINESS PERSON MUST HAVE A LINKEDIN PROFILE.  Repeat:  EVERY BUSINESS PERSON MUST HAVE A LINKEDIN PROFILE. This is the GO TO resource when seeking information on a professional individual, searching for a specific business or business group, procuring business introductions, referrals and connections, career opportunities, and general company happenings.

There are individual pages as well as company/firm pages, and both are recommended. If you are referred to someone, the first thing that person is going to do is look for you on LinkedIn. If you’re not there, or your page has little-to-no information listed, they may think you’re not legitimate (or worse, not current or tech-forward as a professional or business, which is not a perception you want in 2018). And yes, a professional headshot in your profile is a necessity; like it or not, we live in a visual world and a picture goes a long way.

Posting monthly content – original or otherwise – keeps you top-of-mind with your connections on LinkedIn. Whether it’s posting a job within your organization, sharing an interesting or relevant article or event, or announcing a piece of news within your practice area or firm, every contact with your connections and the on-line business world is an effective way to get (and keep) your name and firm in front of others. When a connection has an opportunity to refer you, which can come any time over the course of 12 months, they are more likely to think of you if they’ve just seen or read something you posted. That’s why monthly postings (versus quarterly or less) are critical.  Recognizing and recalling your name, firm and practice area expertise will be the direct result of them seeing something consistently posted from you which ties all three together.

TWITTER – The concept with Twitter is that you can passively follow individuals and/or businesses you have or want as a client. You neither need to comment on nor post Tweets for this tool to be effective. For example, you can learn through Tweets what events current or potential clients are partaking in, what groups, organizations or clubs of which they are members or participants, or what issues of the day are important to them…virtually anything. Information is power, and if you understand where your ideal clients spend their time on-line (or what’s currently happening in their business world) you may be able to connect with and approach them in more timely and effective ways.

Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can be active on your Twitter account and post updates, share articles, comment on business happenings, other’s Tweets, or whatever suits your business fancy.  Again, having an on-line presence, and staying top-of-mind with others in your business sphere is the essence of an effective marketing strategy.

Additionally, Twitter is a simple way to keep updated on what’s happening within your specific practice area, practice organizations or trade groups (they likely all have Twitter accounts). Often, these vehicles of communication are on the cutting edge in terms of announcing new regulations, legislation or case outcomes, and you can stay readily informed. For example, following @MNHouseInfo, which is the Twitter handle for the Minnesota House of Representatives’ nonpartisan Public Information Services department, gives you up to the hour news and other information on legislative activity which may affect your practice area. In California, the handle is @LAO_CA.  And for a site which gives you all state governments social media links, go to this link:  http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/legislative-social-media-sites.aspx

Social media involves multiple, inexpensive (Twitter is FREE!) and effective platforms which can greatly assist with your business development and marketing. As lawyers, time is money and billable hours are the main gauge for success; the sooner you can embrace and leverage an easy, efficient and affordable on-line presence with LinkedIn and Twitter, the quicker you can find new and compelling ways to market yourself in 2018.