This is the next post in my series on how law firms can successfully market themselves in 2017 and beyond. My last post looked at the fact that most attorneys don’t understand internet marketing. Lawyers (who are taught in law school to look at everything through analogies) make the mistake of analogizing their website and blog to advertising mediums such as the phone book, television advertisements, etc. The fact of the matter is that the web gives you a chance to own your marketing assets outright as opposed to renting ad space from third-parties in printed publications, television, and any other medium. In this article I’m going to look at how most attorneys are wasting their time by going to networking events.

I know what you’re thinking. Networking events are an important way to make contacts. You see them as an important part of your strategy and you don’t see how something can be a waste of your time when it looks like this:

Networking event

What most legal professionals don’t realize, however, is that such events constitute a time investment. Making bad investments with your time can be just as bad for your bottom line as making bad investments with your money. When we do the math you’ll see that attending a networking event may look like the photo above, but as the legal market gets tighter it will leave you looking like this:
attorney with sign

Let’s look at why you’re much, much, much better off putting your time into regular blogging as opposed to going to networking functions.

Attorneys fail to consider the poor return on investment offered by networking events

Attorneys regularly attend networking events as a way to “make contacts” and potentially get clients. The problem with this approach is that, like in many other aspects of business, lawyers ignore that little concept of return on investment. Legal professionals have previously been able to get by while ignoring R.O.I. but ignoring that concept in today’s market will leave your firm BROKE! I discussed in my series on why law firms will fail in 2017 it’s time to run your firm like an efficient business or you’ll find yourself left behind. This means putting your resources, including your time, into activities that yield the highest return in terms of clients. Let’s look at the return you get from going to a networking function and compare it to the return on blogging.

Joe Attorney (we all know him) goes to a networking event. He spends forty five minutes driving there, two hours at the event, and forty five minutes driving back to his office. While at the event he rubbed elbows with roughly fifty people and meets two potential referral resources. Over the next two years he gets about ten total cases from these resources. During those two years he has to invest another ten or so hours taking the referral sources to lunch, checking in with them, etc. When you add all these time up, Joe has invested roughly 13.5 hours into activities which yielded ten cases. This is profitable but, man…….oh……man, if only Joe had said “what’s the best way to spend my time” before heading off to that marketing event.

If I was writing a blog post for a law firm website I would probably spend about 45 minutes to an hour doing it. Assuming the high end of one hour, this means I could write roughly thirteen blog posts in the time Joe spent networking. I just checked the analytics of one of our clients and over the last twelve months his top thirteen blog posts have received 6,434 clicks in organic search. Let’s say that the average attorney pays $10 per click in a pay-per-click campaign (which is way too low of a number but we’ll go with it) then these thirteen blog posts have returned a level of advertising exposure that most attorneys pay $64,340 for. Now suppose that $1,000 in advertising exposure can generate $5,000 in revenue. That means that those thirteen hours of blogging will bring in $321,700 in revenue. I’m willing to bet that the $321,700 is a better return on thirteen hours of time then the revenue generated by getting ten cases out of networking.

Lawyers should prioritize blogging over networking

Networking can be valuable and I understand that. At then end of the day, however, you must prioritize where you invest your time. The first priority should be your blog. If there is time left over, after adequately maintaining your blog, then that time could be invested into networking. It’s important to remember that your time is a limited resource. You should prioritize those activities which have the greatest return. If time is left over then that time should go to the activities with the second highest return, etc. Most lawyers, however, never even sit down and take the time to calculate where they are getting the most bang for their buck. This is why many firms always feel as if they cannot get into high gear.

I started my law firm, in my living room with a single client, in August of 2006. I updated my blog, early and often, from the outset. I attended few networking events. In 2010 my revenue was $1,046,695. I, respectfully, dispute the claim that networking is the most effective way to build or grow a practice. You should be focusing on your blog instead. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Why do you feel attorneys prioritize networking over their blogs? Please chime in through the comment form below.