social media

Podcast: In conversation with Ian Mountford – some thoughts on how well law firms use Social Media

I was fortunate enough to have recently been invited by Ian Mountford, of Fit for Social, to join him in a  general discussion on our mutual thoughts around how well #Auslaw firms are doing with their use of social media as a business development tool.

Chat lasts about half and hour and can be heard here.

For those of you who listen, hope you enjoy it.

As usual, feel free to let me know whether you agree or disagree with my views.

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Acritas’ Sharplegal Survey: Vive La Différence – or you’ll lose work!

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The days of the male dominated culture in law firms are numbered if said firms want to have any chance of continuing to win work from the growing number, as well as importance, of female in-house general counsel according to the latest research undertaken by Acritas’ Sharplegal (an annual global legal market survey of over 2,000 general counsel) revealing how differently male and female buyers approach the purchase of legal services.

Bottom-line take out from the covering article – on the Acritas website – announcing the survey result that should get every male law firm partner and their business development team’s thinking caps on is this:

Firms that are able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their female client’s business and her needs also stand to gain higher levels of favorability from her – an all-important step on the path to winning work.

This statement is also directly reflective of Lucy Siebert’s (international counsel at Australia’s Telstra) comments at the recent Legal Week Asia regional ‘Corporate Counsel Forum’, held at the end of November 2014, where she stated that:

We [Telstra] specifically look to see that they’re ensuring the best possible talent pool for us – not just white Anglo-Saxon males. We’ve got a very strong diversity policy and so we expect that to be something that is also important to our panel firms.

Crucially, law firms who are looking to win a greater share of work from female in-house counsel should note:

When asked what drove the likelihood to recommend a firm, a much higher proportion of women than men spoke about responsiveness as a deciding factor.

And specifically that:

Not only was it the quality of communication that mattered to female in-house counsel, but also the speed and level of interaction they experienced.

Interestingly, the survey also reports that:

43% of women working in senior in house legal roles said they used LinkedIn on a daily or weekly basis, compared with just a third of men. Furthermore, only a quarter of women said they never used the social network, compared to two fifths of men, suggesting that new business approaches to women may be better made online than ‘on the golf course’.

A final ‘thought for the day’ is the following by Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas [commenting on the survey findings]:

“A change in thinking and culture is needed if men want to impress an increasingly influential group of female in-house counsel who value business understanding and efficient communication over reputation, personal relationships and trust when choosing their preferred legal partner.”

#BizDevTip: 15 ways to find new business development opportunities in 2015

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On the basis that all lawyers are, ultimately, responsible for sourcing and securing their own book of business, the following are 15 ways you and your law firm could find new business development opportunities in 2015:

  1. RSS feeds: we will start off easy, set up an RSS drop box email account (I use Gmail) and sign-up to as many news and industry sources as you believe you need to give you as much relevant market information as possible. Keep in mind that if it’s in the “papers” you’ve most likely missed the boat, but you can still find the odd nugget this way.
  2. Apps to read on the go: in addition to having RSS feeds, I also have a number of news and blog feeds that I read on my iPad on the way to work through the Ziner app that are fed through Feedly. Previously I used to play solitaire on the train, but I’ve actually had some real wins since doing this.
  3. Network internally: if your firm has an intranet site, make yourself visible on this. Offer to publish updates or other useful information that will increase your profile internally. I’ve found this particularly useful in multiple jurisdiction and cross-border firms where you might not always get the opportunity to meet with your colleagues and show them firsthand how great you are! Even if you work in a one office firm though, increasing your profile internally – via the old water-cooler chat – can help build your profile and the trust your peers have in your abilities.
  4. Be present on Twitter: not only is Twitter a lot of fun, but it also offers you a free and easy way to increase your profile and network globally. And you’ll be surprised how often someone in your network (of Twitter followers) is asked by someone they know (but you don’t) for a recommendation in your jurisdiction, and guess who they will be recommending!
  5. Blog: again, a free (or at worst relatively cheap) and easy way to highlight that you are a thought leader in your area of expertise. It may also lead to other publishing opportunities that will help to promote your brand as widely as possible. And it doesn’t even have to be that long or complicated a post on your blog – just make it authentic and consistent.
  6. LinkedIn: I suggest people be ‘present’ on LinkedIn. This means using this platform as more than a modern rolodex for contact cards. Join and participate in industry groups that are relevant to your practice. Better yet, join and participate in groups your clients or target clients are active in. And if there are none, start your own!
  7. Publish: publish articles and materials that showcase how brilliantly you know your subject matter and how it applies to your clients businesses. I would suggest that you don’t do this in peer-to-peer [lawyer] publications, but find out what publications your clients like to read and try and get published in these – even if that means you are publishing updates on the automotive industry in a car magazine!
  8. Participate in client relationship management teams: you would be surprised what you can learn from CRM team meetings. I’ve seen millions of dollars generated in these groups over the years. But here’s the thing: you and your firm need to be engaged and willing to share information in order for it to work.
  9. Sector group meetings: same as 8 above, only along the lines of a sector rather than a specific client. Here, think back to how successful study groups were for you at high school or university – where you all shared information to help each other improve. Well the same principle applies, only the rewards can be [financially] much greater!
  10. Be visible: offer to spend one day a week or month working in your client’s office(s). Don’t charge them for it, just ask if you can use an office there. Then let them drop by for a coffee and a chat. You’ll be surprised by how many potential new matters you’ll have by the end of the day!
  11. Industry events: attend and participate in as many as you can. Not only are they great for networking, but they’re also good for insights from business leaders into the direction the market is heading. So, if you haven’t already, head off and join your local chamber of commerce or industry body organisation.
  12. Study: study broadens the mind. It also brings you into contact with likeminded people who might need your help. So if studying is your thing, this is an excellent venue where you can not only build your reputation as being a knowledgeable thought leader, but also bring you into contact with people who may need your help.
  13. Be social: don’t spend every waking hour at the office, be social. Attend your local sports or drama club events, because you never know who you might meet at these venues and the next person you meet could well be your biggest client this year!
  14. Accept feedback: always be willing to accept feedback as this will likely result in: (i) a platform where trust can be built, in that if your client sees that you are willing to listen to their feedback and improve your service delivery based on that feedback, they’re more likely to trust your abilities going forward (and this is true even where you make mistakes), and (ii) you being more aware of forthcoming work than you might otherwise have been.
  15. Always be willing to ask for help: lastly, always be willing to ask for help. That can be in the form of a mentor, coach, business trainer or rainmaker. It could be as simple as asking for help being introduced to someone you don’t know but want to get to know. How it’s done is not the important part, it’s in the asking: keep in mind that everyone, and I do mean everyone, has or will need someone else’s help at some point. And at some point, someone will ask you for your help – so give generously if you can!

There you go then, 15 ways for you and your firm to find business development opportunities going forward this year  – and if you can think of any more, let me know via the comments section.

#BizDevTip: The 10% Rule…

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…states that:

only 10% of the people who follow,  connect or read what we have to say on Social Media give a damn about our particular brand of message.

The rest are just making up the numbers.

Or, is it the case that we really believe there is a Silent Majority who are listening to our story, what we have to say:

where 90% of the people who follow, connect or read what we write and say on Social Media really care about our particular brand of message?

So, next time you write something for consumption by, and distribution to, others on Social Media, I would like to recommended that you ask yourself:

  • Why am I writing this?
  • Who am I writing this for?
  • And does it make any difference to me if nobody reads this?

Because you may be seriously jeopardising your sanity and wasting a whole lot of your time if you take this Social Media thing all too seriously.