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Local Yokel III: Be Present in Your Community

In-person networking remains a vital component of legal marketing, despite (and, perhaps, more now, because of) the omnipresence of the Internet. The personal connection created in the modern world bespeaks effort, and essential engagement, more than replying to someone via Twitter ever could. It is time-consuming to generate these opportunities for in-person networking, of course; it makes sense, then, to network where you live.

  • One of the best ways to generate buzz about you and your practice is to join local organizations and associations. The thesis for getting what you want out of the relationship is the same for any organization that you join; get respected: establish your acumen, and willingness, and follow-through, in helping out. Whether you're joining lawyers' groups or other professional or community organizations, the ultimate objective is the same: to gain clients, or referrals of clients.
  • Organize presentations for specific groups. If you are a regular churchgoer, organize an instructive course in one of your practice area topics, and invite those that you worship with. You've already established a foundation relationship; and, this is an opportunity for you to show your local connections what you can do for them as a professional. You may gain some immediate business; and, you'll be available every Saturday or Sunday to answer any additional questions.
  • Paying for advertising in publications with large circulations can be expensive; but, local newspapers and other targeted periodicals can offer a cheaper solution, and one that is per se focused on your community. Non-traditional advertising, such as sponsoring a little league team, may also prove effective, even beyond gaining you a roster full of little fans, and their appreciative parents.
  • Certainly, being the local guy, or gal, can itself be a selling point. The 'buy local' argument still resonates within communities, as long as you can show that you're just as good as those outsiders anyway.
  • In order for this to work, of course, it helps if you're actually determined to be in it for the long haul. Marketing effectively in your locality is much about building trust; and, that trust is not built overnight--neither is it meant to readily withstand abandonment.

To return to the web, in summation: You should be certain that your internet presence agrees with your local presence. You can't be a one-person tourism board when walking around town, and then spout off online about how your city is a glorified toilet bowl. Even if you just met someone in the next office building over from yours, the first thing they'll do to verify what you've told them will be to Google you.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Practice Management Advisor, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published April 21, 2011

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