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Lawyers’ thought leadership is air support for their business development ground game

Consistent content creation complements your face-to-face business development efforts by showing you are qualified to serve your clients

Some attorneys are uncertain about the relationship between their content marketing and thought leadership marketing efforts on one hand, and their business development activities on the other, such as networking, meeting for coffee, attending conferences, and the like.

They’re unsure about the balance they should strike between the two.

There is plenty of uncertainty to go around in life, but thankfully, there need not be any when it comes to attorneys balancing their content creation and business development efforts.

That’s because content marketing and thought leadership marketing complement the face-to-face business development attorneys do. Thought leadership and other forms of content marketing are the air support for attorneys’ business development ground game.

Prefer to watch a video about this topic instead? Here you go!

The business development ground game builds rapport

When attorneys are interacting with their contacts face-to-face, whether they’re current or prospective clients or referral sources, and whether that’s during a meal, over coffee, at an industry conference, or merely over a video call, they’re building a relationship by building rapport. They’re focusing on establishing a personal connection so they can eventually establish a meaningful business connection.

Naturally, when an attorney is meeting with their contact, the conversation is likely to turn to business at some point. But that conversation is probably not going to be an in-depth discussion of five recent court decisions relevant to the contact, nor will it be a detailed walkthrough of legislative activity relevant to the contact.

Instead, because the discussion is happening in real-time and is face-to-face, the discussion will likely cover at a high level recent relevant developments in the law or in the news, what’s keeping the contact up at night, and what the attorney or contact is hearing on the ground regarding industry trends.

Face-to-face business development opportunities are not the time to get into the weeds of legal developments. It’s for the attorney to build rapport, connect with a contact on a personal level, and get a general sense of the legal and business issues that are relevant to that contact. This is vitally important for the majority of relationships with prospective and current clients and referral sources because most of them want to get to know the people they’ll be working with and make sure they have a rapport with them.

Thought leadership puts knowledge, wisdom, and authority on display

An attorney’s content marketing and thought leadership efforts, however, are the time for them to start getting into the weeds of legal and industry developments.

Thought leadership content in all its forms — informal blog posts, bylined articles in third-party publications, videos, podcasts, etc. — is the platform through which attorneys can show their current and prospective clients and referral sources that they have the goods when it comes to being able to provide effective legal counsel that helps a contact and their colleagues tackle their business and legal issues.

A current or prospective client or referral source might greatly enjoy the time they spend with an attorney. But if that attorney isn’t using thought leadership to reinforce to their contacts — at scale — that they are an authority on the areas of law they practice and the industries they serve, and that they have the knowledge and wisdom to successfully tackle their contacts’ legal and business issues, the attorney runs the risk of not convincing a contact that they can be trusted to assist them with those issues.

The “at scale” component is a key reason why thought leadership content and other forms of content marketing complement attorneys’ face-to-face business development efforts.

As of today, attorneys can only be in one place at one time. They can’t simultaneously be doing billable client work while also grabbing dinner with a prospective client. Nor can they be simultaneously hobnobbing with two current clients at two conferences across the country from each other.

But with each and every blog post, LinkedIn post, bylined article, and other form of thought leadership content, attorneys can simultaneously show hundreds if not thousands of their contacts that they are knowledgeable and wise about the law. Plus, they can do so on a more frequent basis than they ever could meet with their contacts.

Thought leadership’s yin to business development’s yang

The beauty of the complementary nature of thought leadership and face-to-face business development is how effectively they work together to persuade a client or referral source that a particular attorney is the right person for them to retain.

The face-to-face business development, though likely infrequent, establishes a personal connection and shows a client or referral source that an attorney is a likable person who they should do business with.

The thought leadership, which is hopefully frequent, relevant, and valuable, provides a steady stream of evidence showing that the attorney isn’t just a likable person but can be trusted to effectively handle the legal or business issues a contact needs assistance with.

It’s hard to do business with somebody you don’t like. It’s even harder to do business with someone you can’t trust and don’t think has the ability to do the work you would hire them to do.

That’s why thought leadership is air support for attorneys’ business development ground game. Whereas the latter is the infrequent and unscalable way attorneys build rapport with clients and referral sources and plant the seeds for a business relationship, the former is the frequent and scalable way attorneys convince clients and referral sources that entering into a business relationship with them is the right move to make if they want to solve the legal or business issues they or their clients are facing.

Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices and prominence by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

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