Just a few months into my time at the firm, I held a LinkedIn tutorial lunch for all of our members. After presenting a seminar loaded with LinkedIn data, social media tips, and examples of ways other firms effectively use the site, I knew our attorneys would be ready to test the social media waters with confidence. The smug smirk was smacked right off my face when, after sitting patiently through my presentation, a partner stood up and declared LinkedIn “dangerous.” This partner then proceeded to explain the ethical implications of social media use on their bar licenses, as the “black and white” rules have yet to be decided. The partner concluded by suggesting that if you want to keep your bar license safe, you should stay out of this space entirely. Partner : 1; Rebecca, Social Media Evangelist & Dangerous Advisor: 0.
What happened? Despite the plethora of data in my presentation suggesting this is a safe and time-worthy marketing tool, I had serious damage control to do, and it had to be done on an individual basis. This was my mistake: I had yet to build trust among the members of the firm. I was brand new. Why would I think I could waltz in, speak social media-ese for an hour, and convince them all to try something totally foreign and uncomfortable? Huge mistake. Lesson learned.
During behavioral scientist James Kane’s keynote speech at this year’s Legal Marketing Association conference, client loyalty was the pervasive theme. He likened our firms to communities, built on loyalty and trust. But how do we know who to trust? What I thought was most insightful was his suggestion that simply satisfying our clients is about the past. Loyalty is about the future. Knowing where they want to go–and, what seems to be difficult for some attorneys–asking where they need to be are ways to exhibit genuine care for our clients. I made a mistake in building trust by not considering the wide array of concerns that may exist in the “community” of my law firm. I should have had more conversations, however informal, with my attorneys before promoting LinkedIn to evaluate their concerns and address them to the group as a whole. This way, an entire seminar would not have been negated by one person’s strongly-worded reservations.
I could have learned a lot about how to launch a marketing program at a new firm, had I met James Kane three years ago. But from this point on, I’ll heed his advice (Check out Lindsay Griffiths’ full re-cap) when introducing new concepts to my firm. Kane advocates finding commonalities with your clients to build trust, citing studies that reveal an increase in brain activity when we find something familiar in another person. As important as it is to educate our attorneys about establishing common grounds with their clients, we must also remember that the attorneys in our firm are our own clients. I have 40. Across the board, they have varying levels of knowledge, interests and reservations about all of our marketing initiatives. I’ve learned that before addressing anything to the entire group, I need to know how they feel about the topic, concerns, and, most importantly, establish that I care enough about them that I’m meeting their needs and assuaging their worries. I’m their partner and they can trust me.