Scott Limmer

EPISODE #6: The Importance of Your Online Presence

22 minutes

This episode discusses how prior to getting involved in networking you have to make sure your online presence is fresh and up to date. Recognize that most clients, referral partners and others will look online to check you out. You must make sure that when they look – especially potential clients- they see the message you want them to see about your developing practice. The hosts discuss the key steps they took to change their online presence and how to implement a similar strategy for your practice.


Episode transcript

 

INTRO:                      Welcome to Reboot Your Law Practice, two lawyers, a podcast, and a plan to help any solo or small firm, hosted by Scott Limmer and Oscar Michelen.

SCOTT:                      Hi everybody, this is Scott.

OSCAR:                      Hello, this is Oscar and welcome back to Reboot Your Law Practice. Today, we’re going to be discussing online presence, social media, and what you need to do to get that in order before you begin to network. So we begin with a question that was submitted to us. “Dear Scott and Oscar, when I last looked for a job, I sent a resume to the hiring manager. That was 20 years ago and now I find myself looking for a new job. I have a resume. What can I do to help myself?”

So the quick answer is, this is not your father’s resume anymore. What you considered important in a resume before is very different than trying to get clients now or establish yourself as an attorney by merely having one or two-sheet piece of paper that lists your education, your experience, and your hobbies and maybe some references.

SCOTT:                      So let me follow up that question with a question, Oscar. If someone were to come to you that you would do business with or someone were to come to you looking for a job, what would you do? How would you look into that person?

OSCAR:                      Right. The same way that I do with clients, I say, “Google me.” So I would put that person’s name into a search engine and see what the internet told me about that person, about that person’s background, his experience, and maybe some things that he’s done in the legal field that I could find online.

SCOTT:                      I’d venture to say, Oscar, that that’s exactly what anybody would do in your situation and if you want to prepare yourself in the best way to network, what you need to do is take control of your social media, take control of your website presence. The small firm attorney or the solo practitioner has to look at the overall presence that they have, and they have to think to themselves, “What is somebody seeing when they Google me? Are they seeing a nice inviting website or are they seeing something that somebody slapped together five years ago, something that’s not impressive?” What you are being given is you are being given an opportunity. You’re being given an opportunity to put your best foot forward. You’re given that opportunity to create a website, to create a LinkedIn profile, to create a Facebook profile that you mold and you put on the page what you want the prospective client, networking partner to see.

OSCAR:                      Not just that, you should also think about what your adversary sees because whether you do transactional work or you do litigation, there is another lawyer that’s going to be on the other side checking you out and passing judgment on you, and even maybe occasionally referring your business. But always the first and foremost is what will a client, a prospective client see when they Google me. What will a network partner, a referral partner see when they Google me? If you don’t have any social media presence and you don’t have an online presence, you need to start building that as being your resume for 2015.

SCOTT:                      You are considered odd if you don’t have an online presence now. If I look for someone online who is going to come and work at my house or a repair man. If there is not a webpage, if there is not something telling me about him, I’m probably going to move on and go to the next person.

OSCAR:                      Right and it’s going to make those folks believe that you are not with it, you are not current. You are not someone who they can trust, is going to be on the cutting edge of law and litigation or whatever it is that you want to be involved with because you don’t have this online presence.

SCOTT:                      You almost have to think of it as, when you used to go in for that interview, you’d make sure your suit was on or your tie was straightened and everything looked good, and you presented yourself as a package. You were trying to talk to the hiring partner or talk to whoever you were being interviewed with and you presented that package.

OSCAR:                      You presented a message. That’s what you need to think about is that.

SCOTT:                      That I’m professional and that I can do this job, and if you look at me I am going to do a good job for you. That’s what your web presence is. You need to take those people, envelop them in your website and say, “I’m going to take care of you, I’m going to help you.” Put your message in your website and your social media. Listen, everybody goes to websites, you know what you’d like in a website. You know an inviting website and you know a website that’s just old and cold looking, and something that’s not graphically interesting and you move on.

OSCAR:                      And not useful and doesn’t provide you with the useful information that you need. So before you start developing that, and I guess I’ll just talk a bit about my personal experience when I decided what to kind of retool and put myself back out there, I began thinking about the kind of cases that I had wanted and I didn’t have that significant web presence. I had some cases that were somewhat high profile, you could find a news paper article about one case here.

SCOTT:                      But nothing of yours that collected everything and use that to show the prospective client or networking partner the successes that you have.

OSCAR:                      Right and the business that I was putting forth and was looking for. So I started by retooling the website, thinking about who was going to look at it, making sure that it had good searchable terms.

SCOTT:                      Before you do that, Oscar, you wanted to change your web presence and you wanted to create something new for you. What were the underlying pillars? What message are you trying to give to the person who is looking at your website?

OSCAR:                      It was important for me to let them know that we were comfortable in the court room. We’re litigation attorneys. We handle all kinds of business – commercial, white collar criminal defense, whatever areas that we were looking for – but it was critical to them to know that we had experience, years of experience as well as courtroom presence and courtroom savvy. That we were problem solvers and that we were going to be able to do for them what larger corporate firms that were going to charge 10 times what we were charging, and able to compete with those types of firms in the courtroom. That was a general message that we wanted to send out, and so what we did was, I don’t want to say professionalize, but I want to say we corporatized our website so that it looked much more like a business oriented website, you know, a site that was going to speak to general counsel, corporate executives, business owners who were going to be looking for lawyers. Secondly, I started a blog that I called Courtroom Strategy. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was going to call it, what it was going to be about. I think that was one of the most critical decisions that I made right from the beginning.

SCOTT:                      Let me just clarify, Oscar, you are talking about your personal blog and this is something completely different from the actual firm website, correct?

OSCAR:                      Exactly. That’s important for a number of reasons, that’s two sites now that will come up when someone Google’s my name and looks for my background and experience. I then put up a professional Facebook page and I named it Oscar Michelen – Trial Attorney, Intellectual Property & Business Litigation. So that’s now a third website that when people put my name in is going to come up and it’s going to show the areas of law and the things that I’m interested in, and the issues that I am trying to promote. It didn’t take a lot of time, once I decided on what I wanted to do, to launch those three things. But the time is in thinking about the message you want to send out and how are you going to get that message sent. Just quickly, the other thing that I did which I recommend as well is I then started looking for places where I could write an article or two in the area that I wanted to, and I would get the benefit of their search engine optimization, their readership. So I joined a couple of associations and I reached out. They were very excited to have content and get articles and lo and behold, before you knew it, I had a couple of articles in the fields that I wanted to published online, so that when you now put my name in, you now had six sites, seven sites that would come up with me and my information about the area that I wanted to go to.

SCOTT:                      So at this point, Oscar, if somebody wants to get a job with your firm and they want to look you up, what are they going to say?

OSCAR:                      Right. They are going to find my website.

SCOTT:                      Exactly.

OSCAR:                      They are going to find the articles. They are going to see my Facebook page. They are going to see my blog but more importantly, Scott, they are going to see the things that are important to me and they are going to see the projection of what I think they want to see back about my experience, about my courtroom experience, about my litigation experience, about how I could help protect their business and their intellectual property and their partnerships. Whatever those decisions are that they are looking to have legal help for, it was a very thought out entry into the online media presence.

SCOTT:                      So what you are able to do and anybody listening can do this, all the things that you would do at the first meeting with someone to sell yourself, to explain what you do and how good you do it. All those things that you would normally do in that first meeting, you can put their online for anybody to see and they know what they are getting when they come in to talk with you. They know who they are talking to and they know all about you and what you can do, it’s invaluable.

OSCAR:                      One of the things that you’ve often told me about when we’re discussing this podcast is that you felt your initial entry into the internet was one of the most biggest mistakes you made in your legal practice.

SCOTT:                      Well no, not the initial. I wouldn’t say the initial entry.

OSCAR:                      Okay.

SCOTT:                      Luckily, when I first started the practice, we had a really good website for a lot of years. After using a couple of companies that just did legal websites for a few years, I kind of threw out my hands and said, “I don’t know what to do anymore.” I then proceeded to make the worst business decision I have ever made in my life. There was a local guy that I knew who was just starting a new business and I thought to myself, “You know, I’m going to give this guy a chance to build this website.

OSCAR:                      A website developer?

SCOTT:                      A web developer, yeah. I said, “Let me give the guy a chance. He can’t do any worse than these other legal companies have done.” Well, he did much worse. There were no pictures on my website. It was just print. It was horrible. Anyone that would come to my site would just, I am sure, click on the next site. There was no reason for them to stay. It didn’t explain who I was. It didn’t give any picture of what I could do for anyone. It was just text that you’d have to read, it was horrible. It was absolutely horrible and at the time I was spending a lot of money on AdWords every month. So I was wasting money for people to go to my site and I know they were just going there and being like, “Pffft. I can’t call this guy.”

OSCAR:                      “I’m not going to read this.”

SCOTT:                      This is when, and I’ve talked about this on the podcast before. I took that step back and I figured, “What do I need to do? How do I do this so my sites are attractive? “ And I figured out what I wanted my message to be and I’m talking about my criminal practice here, what I wanted my message to be. I wanted my website to show the potential client that I’m going to help them. That I understand the stress that they are going through, that if they call me at 4 AM, I will call them back because I know they’re in trouble. That’s the emotion that I wanted to put in my website, and there is no doubt that it’s worked for me. I’ve had great feedback from a lot of clients. I have a lot of pictures of myself on the site. I had clients say, “Hey! You are the guy from the website,” and you know you are making some sort of connection with people.

OSCAR:                      But the important thing is that that’s the message that you wanted to send across, because you are dealing with families and individuals who are in stressful situations and who want someone to connect to, that they feel they can trust with their issue. So that website might not work for the kind of business I was generating.

SCOTT:                      Absolutely.

OSCAR:                      And so someone might say, “Look, this is guy is corny” or “He’s an individual. He doesn’t really deal with my kind of problems. He’s not going to understand the business frame of mind,” and that’s very important because both websites are successful but they come at it from a very different point of view. The other thing that I want to add is, whatever the website is, you have to consider the search engine. So for example one of the things that held back my blog initially getting found was that even the name of the website was a graphic, it was an image. The words “Courtroom Strategy” on my page were static photograph or an image as opposed to being a Word document. That meant it wouldn’t be found and the same with if you put up a blog as a PDF or in some other format that’s not searchable, you’re not letting the internet find you. So you have to tell the website developer what words it is that you want to lead the clients to find you based upon that search and incorporate those appropriately in your website. Even then, I have even seen some websites that were done by a cheesy website developer, and you could tell.

SCOTT:                      I think he worked on my site once, cheesy web developers.

OSCAR:                      Let’s say for example you wanted someone to look for a criminal defense study. So this guy, it was just like, “Criminal defense attorney will fight for you. Criminal defense attorney…” It’s like that didn’t make any sense. He was just trying to put in that search engine term so many times that it looked ridiculous. So you need to find a balance and make it legible and make sure that your blog, your website has incorporated in it the searchable terms that you want your clients to come to.

SCOTT:                      So I want to tell you something I read. I wish I could give whoever wrote this credit but I really don’t know where I read it but I did happen to write again. “You could consider yourself to be the best in your field but you need to know how you will convey that to prospective customers. Passion needs to come through on your website.” That’s it. Anybody listening to this you know when you go to Amazon, there is a certain feel that that website that you are comfortable with. You go to Apple, you go to ESPN. You go to any of these sites, they’ve done studies. They know what grips and you feel comfortable. You know what it’s about. They’ve taken their passion in what they do and they’ve put it out there for people to see and people to get gripped by. I know this is isn’t what we all went to law school to do, believe me I know, but you don’t have a choice. You have to do this at this point.

OSCAR:                      Right. The other thing too is it comes back to our core value. I hate to keep bringing it up but it’s very important. You got to be authentic. Your authenticity has to be reflected through your passion. So again, and I admire your site, Scott, so let’s go back to your site. How do you present your authentic self and your passion on your site to be specific?

SCOTT:                      I really try to think about what I did for clients and what I knew I could help them with, and I try to get some pictures of myself up there. I wrote the text myself. I made sure it spoke to the client. It wasn’t, “We, here at the law offices of Scott J. Limmer will do blah, blah, blah.”

OSCAR:                      Right and it’s what everybody else has on their legal sites.

SCOTT:                      Exactly. There is no gavel anywhere on my site. Well, there are some pictures of courthouses but not on the main page. I kind of put everything together. I was the project manager for the website and I didn’t give it to a company to do it. I did it. I hired a project manager to help me along with it and then we hired vendors to take care of every little piece and put it together. It was incredibly important. I’ve built six, seven websites probably in my legal career.

OSCAR:                      For yourself?

SCOTT:                      For myself. When I say built, I haven’t built them. Someone has built them for me, and I have never been the creative director. I’ve always gotten what they’ve told me made sense. Heck, you know what, it even goes back to the phone book. The phone book, people would come, “Hey, this works the best, just do this,” and you do it. It doesn’t work the best. They are just trying to sell you on what’s quick and move you along.

OSCAR:                      Right because for them they can use their basic template and they can move on. I did a similar thing with ours. My partner and I broke down each topic, each practice area that we have, which is about five of them. We said, “What are the most common problems that clients with these situations come to and how did we solve their problems most efficiently and effectively?” We even put in the bullet points under each one. There is a little general topic about what the practice area is and then here is what we do, here is what we did, here is how we can help you.

We came up with a little thing about what we do, who we are and why we’re different. That became our little theme because that’s the message that we wanted to sell. We are different than other business commercial litigators. We’re different than other trial attorneys. Why? What did we have going for us? We focus on the fact that four of our trial attorneys each had more than 20 years of experience. So you had the comfort that you are coming in, you are going to be handled by someone who has been around the block, who’s had experience in the courtroom, in the very problems that you’ve had and sold that message. So the site responds to what we think clients are looking for and that’s the message that you need to be authentic about. What can I provide to the client I want to hire me? That’s it.

SCOTT:                      And when you’re done and you know that you have a good LinkedIn profile and you know you have a good website, and you go to that networking meeting or you meet somebody somewhere. You give them your card and you say, “Hey, go to my website. You can get some more information about what I do.” You can be proud that they are not just going to some junky site that says nothing. You know that it will be a part of you almost, that it will give this person a good picture of who you are and who they are dealing with.

OSCAR:                      Right, and every once in a while, Google yourself once you have these things up. By the way, another trick you need to know is make sure you Google yourself under what’s called incognito mode, and that is where you tell the computer, “Act like I have never searched before” because if you keep searching for yourself, Google or whatever search engine you use, is going to bring up the same sites that you Google. I don’t know why I feel like I had to mention this that there’s others out there but when you Google it yourself, do it in an incognito basis so you could see what someone who has never Googled you before is going to see. That’s very important, because you could trick yourself, “Oh look! My website comes up right away.” Yeah, you moron! That’s because you keep checking yourself and you keep going to your website. So the computer is going to bring you to that site.”

SCOTT:                      Lastly, I just want to go over quickly what we think is probably your best bet in terms of creating an online presence. I think we could agree that having a website and having an extremely good LinkedIn profile are really the two mandatory things to have on social media, on the web to have right now. I think…

OSCAR:                      A professional Facebook page I would also…

SCOTT:                      A professional Facebook page I think would be the next thing to have, certainly a blog is something that’s becoming, I don’t want to say necessary but becoming more important. Certainly, trying to get your website listed in business directories so people can find you in places like that.

OSCAR:                      Correct, I agree with all that.

SCOTT:                      The other stuff that you can do, I think this is optional; Google Plus, Yelp, Avo. They all have their positives and negative state. They all help certain aspects, so you can dabble on those as you choose.

OSCAR:                      Right. We may go into that in more detail in other podcast but for now, the essential thing is work on a website. Get the website up and running and your LinkedIn profile and move off of that.

SCOTT:                      Get your ideas and figure out what you want to put forth on it and create it.

OSCAR:                      So that’s the job for you for this week. Think about three ways you can help develop an online presence and more importantly, think about three or four things that you want that online presence to say about you. So this is Oscar, you can reach me at Oscar@LawReboot.com.

SCOTT:                      This is Scott. You can reach me at Scott@LawReboot.com or you could also call us at 516-900-4842. Leave a message, comment about the show, question or suggestion for future shows.

OSCAR:                      And will see you next time on Reboot Your Law Practice. Thanks for joining us.

OUTRO:                     This has been Reboot Your Law Practice with Oscar Michelen and Scott Limmer.

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