Ask Attorney Jennifer B.: Building your online presence and reputation is easier than you think
There is a wealth of information about all products and services one would consider purchasing no more than a click away, and most people do routinely research these products and services before making a final purchase. We use our favorite search engine to inform and influence our decision-making from the most minor decisions, such as what restaurant we will visit to our most major decisions, such as the house we will buy.
In our legal practices, before we make hiring decisions, we undoubtedly research potential candidates on the internet. We look up our adversaries with whom we have not had cases online before we make the initial call to them introducing ourselves. We even research our potential clients before we meet them for the first time.
It should not be surprising to us, therefore, although to many it is, that legal consumers also use the internet to figure out the best lawyer to hire. Thus, our online presence and reputation can be the key to growing our business. It is also a tool we can use to demonstrate to potential clients the services we offer, our credentials and our stellar reputation.
Your digital “word of mouth”
Despite the benefits of having an online reputation and presence, many lawyers feel this is somehow beneath the level of the profession. Many of these same lawyers adhere to the antiquated notion that business should be developed by word of mouth only and not through what they may deem as online “advertising.”
What these folks don’t realize, however, is that the word of mouth today is in fact social media. Moreover, if you fail to develop and maintain your online reputation, it might be developed anyway through online rating systems or client commentary – and it may not represent the best you have to offer.
If there is a dearth of information about us online, a prospective client may question why this is so and thus similarly question our fitness to take on their matter. They may view us as old-fashioned and not in touch with current trends that could benefit their representation. As such, it important for both seasoned and new attorneys to consistently monitor and improve their online reputations.
Establishing an online presence and reputation is easier than it sounds
A law firm website and an individual website biography is the natural place to begin. Your firm website should include the following:
- Practice areas you serve today, but also a nod to areas you want or plan to expand to
- Client reviews to provide a view into what others experienced when working with you.
- A personal bio that includes your academic credentials and your accomplishments as an attorney
- Large verdicts that you have won
- Relevant articles that you have written
- Outside passions to create a complete picture for the client of who they are hiring
It’s also important to sign up or claim any online profile on lawyer rating sites so that you can control the information that is being publicly conveyed.
The value of having an online presence
I learned early in my career the importance of developing and enhancing my online reputation. While I used my appearances as a legal commentator on television to reach potential clients, I found that this reach could be extended and maintained for a longer period of time if I included clips from my appearances on my website and other online directories, legal, and social profiles that I could manage. The same goes for articles I wrote, or seminars I gave about topics pertaining to my practice area. Developing my own blog provided a place to house this content and gave me a different approach to enhancing my online reputation.
In short, because I practice family law, I must consistently develop new business (as I don’t have many repeat clients) so there is a regular need to reach as many potential legal consumers as possible. This has all helped me do so.
It is well established that a lawyer’s greatest asset is his or her reputation. In this day and age, this includes one’s online reputation. Developing and maintaining an online reputation can be done for little to no cost, and the return on this minimal investment is astounding.