The Business Development W.R.A.P. Up

by Seth Apple on October 24, 2012

A simple plan for increasing your attorneys’ external visibility and brand identity:

Write

As I have mentioned before, writing is an excellent way to demonstrate expertise, increase visibility and enhance overall brand.  Write an article in a trade journal, magazine or newspaper.  Publish a firm client alert, newsletter or memorandum.  Author a blog post on your firm’s platform or guest blog on an approved third party platform.

If your firm publishes content in a dedicated practice other than yours, don’t overlook the opportunity to provide an inter-discipline take on a particular issue that may be relevant to readership you don’t normally address.  There is always a demand for solid content and perspective.

Frequency: The above are just a few examples to consider.  Some are more involved than others, but you should make an effort to write at least one piece a quarter.

READ

In my article entitled The Forward Button is a Tool, I described the benefits of reading and pushing previously published content toward your network/contacts.  As discussed, this may actually be a more effective business and relationship development tool because it demonstrates a comprehensive commitment to the client/contact and their business without being as self-serving.

This one is easy, but is surprisingly under utilized.

Frequency: Depending on what you are reading, this can/should be done daily (newspaper), monthly (magazines and trade journals) and yearly (books).

The first two elements of the Business Development W.R.A.P. Up allow people to learn about your written voice.  But your presence and personality are powerful and important components as well.  Our next two elements will discuss a few ways to show people who you are.

ATTEND

A comprehensive plan to build your personal brand should also include physical appearances.  Remember, the primary triggers to client engagement are likeability, trust and expertise (in that order).  Attending organizational events and conferences is a great (essential) way to grow your reputation and cultivate your network of critical industry relationships in person.

Frequency: Of course, it takes more than attending an event to truly make your presence felt (or justify your reimbursement request to the firm).  Pick one or two organizations to join (year 1), attend their conferences and network with, as Dave Ramsey would say, “gazelle like intensity”.  Then get involved by serving as a committee member or volunteer once you get a feel for the organization and its players (year 2).  Doing so will help accelerate your visibility and presence in the industry.

PRESENT

There are numerous opportunities to present on topics clients and prospects find worthwhile.  Conduct a webinar.  Offer a FREE in-house CLE.  Organize a client briefing.  Present at a client trade show or industry conference.  Post something on your firm’s YouTube channel.  Big or small, online or offline – there are options for every firm and lawyer to get in front of an audience.

GCs and other in-house lawyers are constantly looking for ways to satisfy their annual CLE requirements (and maybe even learn something), particularly if they can do so without leaving the office or charging it against their budget.  This is perhaps the most powerful option because it also allows for a client site visit – something overlooked far to often in legal business/relationship development.

Frequency:  A quarterly presentation of some sort is ideal, however two per year is a good start.  Remember, once you have a presentation “in the can” you should re-purpose it multiple times for multiple opportunities.

Of course, there will be variations and limitations (both time and firm policy based) to some of the elements discussed in the Business Development W.R.A.P. Up, however, I hope it proves useful in providing the general framework necessary to design a comprehensive plan for increasing your attorneys’ external visibility and individual brand identity.

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Seth Apple is a business development professional in New York.  You can reach him at sethmapple@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @sethmapple. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author.


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