Establishing Your Credibility: Nothing to do with Lunch

Interesting new post at In House Rants, part three in a series begun last fall titled How to get Legal Business.

The focus of this morning’s entry: "Get your message out. Demonstrate your successes. You’ve got credibility … show it."

Specifically:

You want to be the person whose attributes we identify with solving the immediate problem.  You do not want us to even think about using our current in-house resources or, heaven forbid, another law firm.  You need to be the first name that pops into our head when we need the best solution.

This is, of course, about creating name recognition:

You want us to equate your name with particular expertise. Not so that we’ll think, “Ooops, just spilled some plutonium.  Must call super lawyer X” … Instead, you want us know who you are (and that you are somebody special) when you make your first personal contact with us. This is how you distinguish yourself from the pack who hound us for work.

Notice our bold of the text above. The sentence hinges upon the fact that in-house counsel (or any prospective client, really) already knows you before there is any personal contact.

How to do it?

First on the list of  "I-don’t-know-where-to-start suggestions" is an idea near and dear to our hearts:

  • showcase your expertise via written work.

In House Rants focuses here on trying to place your work in industry-specific publications – and doubtless this is sound advice. On the credibility spectrum created by "advertisement" on one side, "advertorial" in the middle, and "truly useful information" on the other, writing legal articles for an industry-specific media outlet usually places you firmly at "truly useful." Luckily, that’s not the only situation in which this is true:

  • In a time when a quarter of all Americans (including business leaders) turn to the Internet for legal information, you can establish credibility by effectively sharing your work online – especially when you share it in the service of free, top-quality legal information.

(Remember the spectrum: creating and sharing written work, you want to use everything at your disposal to move away from "advertisement" towards "useful." Content makes an enormous difference, but so does the situation/context.)

Patent litigation consultant and author, Robert A. Matthews Jr., knows the value of sharing quality work to reach in-house counsel and other prospective clients. The author of the multi-volume "Annotated Patent Digest," Matthews regular posts his Patent Happenings newsletter – a monthly update on developments in U.S. patent law – on JD Supra. (The latest appeared just today.)

In a recent email exchange, Matthews told us he shares his work in order to be useful. It’s as simple as that. At the heart of this type of sharing is an understanding of what it can lead to: meaningful connections. And Matthews already knows he is sharing high-value work:

… we have received many positive comments about the newsletter from corporate counsel, saying they find the summaries very helpful and concise. We even had a former federal judge expressly request to be added to the newsletter distribution.

The point?

In legal marketing, it is possible to establish credibility and create meaningful contact before you have personal contact. One way to do it: find the right context in which to share something meaningful. Then do it!