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Ed Poll
  Week of July 15, 2008

The Power of Personal Contact

From blogging to podcasts to social networking, technology has given lawyers more marketing tools than ever. There is real danger, however, in becoming so infatuated with the tool that you forget the objective. Marketing legal services isn't about speed or web presence. It remains fundamentally about identifying the people most likely to hire you for the work you want to do, communicating with them to let them know who you are, and developing close relationships with these people so that they choose you to be their lawyer.
So, how should we "entice" prospects into using our services? From the smaller firm's perspective, the number of people you meet and talk to will have the largest impact. Being a real live person out in the public eye can do more than an internet presence alone for boosting your image. Attending lunch or bar association functions, visiting trade shows where hundreds of prospective clients are present, simply picking up the phone and calling friends, business associates, law school classmates, past clients—all of these reinforce your availability through personal contact. They enable you to create a bond with your prospects and show them you can provide value.
I recently speculated on that social networking internet sites will increasingly become part of lawyers' marketing efforts, but added that personal contact at meetings, on the phone and through hand-written notes will remain effective outreach tools.
Professor Alan Childress of Tulane Law School promptly picked up my theme and extended it on his own Legal Profession Blog. Professor Childress noted a truth that "seems to be lost" on law school students and younger lawyers: "Handwritten thank-you notes and other traditional communications are becoming even rarer in light of technology—and will surely catch the recipient's eye a lot more than they used to, given the effort that seems to be required compared to emails and mass digital means."
As social trends move us away from ways of connecting with folks that were used in the past, using those ways today becomes a differentiating factor that gets a lawyer noticed. And differentiation is often the way to get attention. Getting attention is a cornerstone of marketing. And marketing is the basis of educating your public that you exist—so when they have the need for your service or product, they will call you.
Social networking sites have their uses, but you're one of many thousands of users. As a potential client, I ultimately don't care how many online "friends" you have—I want to know you'll be there for ME. A handwritten note is unique, can be kept in a briefcase or desk drawer as a reminder, and symbolizes that you care.
Best wishes,
Ed Poll

Ed Poll

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