In a prior article in which I described three power tips for building a great book of business, we discussed the importance of becoming “famous”. In this piece, we dive deeper to explore several ways you can achieve your fame.
Fame inside your firm
If your firm has lawyers who can refer matters to each other, you should position yourself as a go-to person for your type of work. Don’t assume your lawyers will automatically think of you in your areas of expertise. I’ve heard countless stories of lawyers sending work to other firms because they didn’t know or remember they had those capabilities in-house. Even when lawyers know the firm can do the work, if there are several lawyers who possess that expertise, you may not be the person who comes to mind, even if you are a more logical choice.
Which means you must play the internal fame game. You must build awareness of who you are, what you do, and why people would want to work with you. The following are several approaches you can use to enhance your visibility and reputation within your firm.
A leadership title is a powerful form of social proof. It sends a subtle message that others trust you and that you possess a superior level of skill. Perhaps you could lead a department, practice group, or office.
If you are a newer lawyer, while some senior leadership roles are not (yet) available to you, you can explore whether a deputy position exists within any existing groups. Many leaders have too many responsibilities, so lightening their load can help them personally and can support the group, while simultaneously increasing their visibility and social status.
Committees and Initiatives
In addition to practice and industry groups, there are usually many other groups and committees that exist inside firms. Join groups that are populated with lawyers you want to know, and be seen as a solid contributor.
If something needs to be done in your firm and there is no group to address it, perhaps you can start and lead that effort. For example, in one firm an associate formed an associates marketing committee. This gave him a reason to reach out to invite other associates to join the group, while also providing a high-profile reason to connect with partners and leaders to get their input and support. This strategy rapidly increased his visibility to both partners and associates firmwide, while keeping him top-of-mind over time.
Form Your Ttribe
As a practical matter (especially in larger firms), a firm is really a collection of smaller firms inside the bigger construct. The reality is, lawyers have their r go-to people for certain types of matters, even if there are other more capable lawyers who could do the same work. It’s a matter of comfort and familiarity, which means you should strategically form solid relationships with those who could be referring work to you.
Invite those lawyers to lunch, learn more about their practices, and discuss ways you could market together. Find lawyers who are active business developers and see if there are ways you can add value to their efforts (writing, speaking on complementary topics, making introductions, etc.).
Ask your marketing and business development professionals about upcoming firm events, and work with other lawyers to strategize how to maximize the impact of those events.
There are many potential clients who are looking for someone just like you to handle their legal issues. The problem is, most don’t know you exist, which means it’s up to you to get on their radar.
The rainmaker’s mindset is that people will forget about you and what you do unless you remind them.One way to stay top-of-mind is to conduct short internal presentations on hot topics. I’ve often seen lawyers get work immediately after making presentations because it triggered other lawyers to think about clients who have those issues. At the end of the presentation, suggest ways your lawyers can introduce you to their clients – e.g., you’re happy to conduct an in-house presentation to the client, you’re willing to review documents, policies, procedures, etc.
Also, when hot issues are in the news, send a quick note around the firm to let the right lawyers know how it might impact their clients, and perhaps make some suggestions on what those clients should do. This keeps you and your practice memorable, while also providing valuable information firm lawyers can send to their clients, which makes them look good.
Fame Outside Your Firm
There are many potential clients who are looking for someone just like you to handle their legal issues. The problem is, most don’t know you exist, which means it’s up to you to get on their radar. The following are several steps you can take to make that happen.
Identify the type of people you want as clients An important first step is to get extremely clear on your buyers. Determine who typically makes the hiring decision – bankers, CEOs, in-house counsel, claims adjusters, HR managers? Once you determine the proper categories, find where they congregate, learn what they read, and identify high-priority prospects by name so you can come up with ways to reach out personally. The following are specific techniques you can use to get known by larger groups of prospects, as well as targeted individuals.
Speaking can be a powerful way to attain a third-party endorsement of your capabilities while getting you famous in front of rooms packed with potential buyers and referral sources.
You can use writing in two ways. The common strategy is to hit the “masses” in your targeted categories by writing pieces that are timely and practical. A lesser used approach is to target specific high value people and reach out directly to interview them for your piece or ask them if they would like to co-author it with you. This gives you a very comfortable way to meet new people as well as deepen relationships with people you already know.
There is usually no shortage of groups that have already done the hard work of collecting your targets for you, so your job is to get in and get known. Some will allow you to be a member, while others do not permit service providers. Restricted groups will often allow you to be a speaker, especially if you co-present with one of their members (another great way to reach out to a highly valuable targeted prospect). Where you can be a member, your fame can be achieved not only by presenting, but also by taking leadership positions. This gets you seen by those in the groups you lead, as well as gives you opportunities to reach out to individual members to discuss matters pertaining to the group.
Speaking can be a powerful way to attain a third-party endorsement of your capabilities, while getting you famous in front of rooms packed with potential buyers and referral sources. Venues for speaking are plentiful, including associations and in-house for clients, prospects and referral sources. Lawyers I’ve coached often reach out to clients and others with specific topics in mind, but also ask what other subjects are of interest to them. This is a great “sales call” question, since clients will let you know what is most important to them. If you can’t present on their desired topic, find someone in your firm or your network who can, which will position you as a valued resource.
Videos and Podcasts
What I like about videos and podcasts, as well as live speaking engagements, is that you get to “audition” more fully for your role as their lawyer. Potential clients can get a better feel for what it would be like to work with you – your personality, intellect, competency, sense of humor, and overall likeability. As compared with more episodic live speaking engagements, videos and podcasts provide a forum for regular, ongoing communication, thus creating a deeper connection with your audience. One lawyer I recently coached used his podcast as a reason to reach out to new potential clients, and in four instances he was invited on to their panel counsel lists.
Achieving fame often requires repetition, and posting on social media is one of the easiest ways to achieve frequency. If you are writing articles for publications, create links to those publications and post them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other channels that target your audiences. Better yet, dissect your article into smaller chunks and post these ongoing tidbits of information over time. If you recorded a presentation and have permission to replay it, post about it with a link, and perhaps break that into smaller segments as well. In targeted online groups, comment on posts, and find reasons to engage in dialogue with specific high-value people. For example, perhaps an in-house counsel comments on a certain legal issue. Some ways you could respond include sharing an article you wrote, suggesting that you might have a solution, asking them for a quote for an article you’re writing, letting them know you conduct in-house presentations on that topic, or asking if they would like to be a guest on your podcast or co-present at an upcoming conference.
Media sources start with a blank slate. They need content, stories, quotes, and insights. Which means they need you. If there is a hot issue, reach out to a publication or news station and suggest an angle on how you see it playing out. If you have an idea for something that is not currently being covered, pitch it. Also, let writers know you are available for quotes if they need an authority in your field.
As Gore Vidal once said, “Heroes must see to their own fame. No one else will.” This mindset also applies to your personal responsibility to let potential clients know who you are and what you do. Do them a favor and make it easier for them find their “hero” – their advocate who can help them address their legal needs. By implementing one or more internal and external approaches to increase your visibility among the right people, you can achieve the win-win of growing your practice while helping clients find the solutions they are seeking.
Originally published at Modern Lawyer | January 2023