Those new to the legal profession or fresh out of law school tend to think that success comes from high billable hours, working hard, and serving clients well. While those things are important, more and more lawyers are learning that they need to revisit lawyer networking best practices in our digital world to generate business.
Most lawyers get business from word-of-mouth or in-person connections. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events are limited or nonexistent, making it more difficult for lawyers to build a book of business. This is true of both new lawyers and lawyers who are working to build or diversify their business.
Shifting lead generation and networking online can be challenging, but it’s essential for lawyers looking to build a book in the digital age. Below, we cover a few modern lawyer networking best practices that will help build a strong book of business online or in-person.
Client Referral Program
Client referrals are one of the easiest, least time-intensive, and cheapest ways to bring in new clients. A law firm referral program can help firms maximize referrals and create a repeatable referral process that draws more clients in, both now and in the future.
Referral programs require some creativity in the legal industry. For many businesses, simply offering free products or discounts is enough of an incentive, but law firms don’t always have repeat clients or opportunities to offer significant discounts.
Ideally, a law firm referral process will reward both the referrer and the referred. Past clients may enjoy gifts in the form of gift cards or donations, while the new clients can enjoy most discounts, free consultations, or similar incentives.
Law firms should create a robust referral program with clear guidelines that are posted on the website. The site should have a dedicated referrals page with all the information about the referral program, benefits, and eligibility.
Online reviews are similar to word-of-mouth referrals. Consumers pay attention to online reviews, even in the legal industries, and reviews have a strong presence on search. When law firms encourage clients to leave positive reviews on third-party sites like Google or Yelp, it increases the visibility in search and helps searchers find them more easily.
Case Studies and Testimonials
Case studies and testimonials are a cornerstone of law firm marketing, but it’s not enough to share a case that was won. Law firms need to provide more in-depth information with details, effective examples, and actionable takeaways – even if the outcome wasn’t exactly as desired.
As prospective clients search for information, they may come across case studies and testimonials that are similar to their circumstances. If they can read detailed information about how the law firm won the case, made the process less stressful, or helped the client in a way that’s notable (beyond just the case itself), that may entice them to seek out more information and consider the firm as a solution to their legal issues.
Content is valuable for driving leads. Law firms can leverage content marketing to provide information to prospective clients, such as answers to common legal questions in their practice area, a typical timeline for a case, or client success stories.
Videos are popular across all industry verticals, and law firms can take advantage by turning popular written content into video. Simple videos, such as a Q&A, a client testimonial, or a breakdown of a case timeline can be short and direct, giving prospective clients the information they need and developing trust for the firm.
Interactive Networking Tools
Online tools that clients can interact with offer a lot of value. Quizzes, estimators, and similar tools can not only provide value to prospective clients, but it offers client and market insights for the law firm. These interactive tools should be gated, meaning that prospective clients have to submit contact information for access.
Facebook Groups for Lawyer Networking
Building a community online isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Lawyers looking to network and build online relationships can do so with Facebook groups, which bring together attorneys from across the country to share industry insights and resources.
These groups were highly active during COVID-19, but they’re still going strong. There are also Facebook groups for other industries, interests, and communities, offering opportunities to connect with potential clients.
Virtual Happy Hours
Virtual happy hours are a new trend that’s gaining ground online. Instead of everyone meeting up in one physical location, lawyers and other professionals can spend time in virtual happy hours and connect with people all over the country.
For these events, participants typically make their own drinks and “visit” the happy hour from the comfort of their own home, but they may hop between different happy hour groups. Happy hours are usually hosted on Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other teleconferencing software.
Lawyer Slack Channels
Slack is a communication and collaboration hub that can be used in the place of email. The platform is designed to enhance communication and support in hybrid and remote work environments, making everything more efficient.
There’s a lot more to Slack, however. The platform can be used for non-work-related communications, including channels for different professionals to network and communicate asynchronously. Lawyers can take advantage of these channels to network virtually and discuss important industry issues and topics with similar minds.
Thought leadership online is similar to speaking at networking events or industry conferences in person. Though less formal in its approach, the goal is the same – to position oneself as a leader in the industry.
Lawyers have an opportunity to engage in thought leadership to share important insights and topics they’re passionate about in digital publications. This not only improves visibility for the lawyer and the firm, potentially bringing in more clients, but gets the firm’s name out there for increased brand exposure.
Build a Strong Book of Business with these Lawyer Networking Best Practices
With in-person networking events limited in the wake of the pandemic, many lawyers are struggling to build a book and find new leads. There are plenty of options to increase lead generation and networking opportunities online, however, allowing lawyers to draw more clients and grow their practice now and into the future. As we continue navigating our post-pandemic work, lawyer networking best practices will fluctuate, but we hope these tips offered guidance on modern networking skills.