Neighborhood Networking – How Law Firms Can Benefit From Community Involvement
BY Hannah Felfe
Community involvement is an overlooked tactic that can enhance your firm’s marketing efforts while benefiting neighbors, strengthening bonds between co-workers and creating a positive image of your firm.
To many firms, marketing is daunting, and understandably so. There are a lot of ways to spend marketing dollars. Some firms choose to engage in billboard promotion or create advertisements that air during popular television shows seen by thousands. Still others may choose to advertise on the radio.
These tactics can serve to introduce a firm to a community or to reinforce the existence of a firm in people’s memories, if there is enough media saturation.
However, if ads are not well coordinated, the audience may not get the right message. This can leave prospective clients with only vague thoughts of the firm: “Do I need this firm’s services?”
Creating bonds through traditional advertising channels, while possible, can be expensive. What if there was a way to generate close connections with leads while making a positive impact on
Get your firm involved
An easy way to get involved quickly is to connect with an established organization. Yani Smith of Steinberg Law Firm is proud of Steinberg’s Community Outreach Program, which supports the employees getting involved in the community. Members of the firm only need to commit a few hours a month to volunteering, an amount Smith says “is very doable.”
According to Smith, Steinberg Law Firm sponsors “a couple dozen local organizations each year that are equally dedicated to improving the lives of others.”
Disaster relief is another impactful way to give back. People notice a firm that is willing to help those who are in need, whether through holding fundraiser events or offering pro bono services. Rob Nestico of Kisling, Nestico, and Redick (KNR) recalls his firm supporting hurricane relief this past fall. Nestico explains that watching firm members “step up and try to help communities that they’ve probably never even been to [gives him] a sense of pride in the people [he works] with.” KNR also holds their own annual event called Coats & Cans for Kids Turkey Giveaway, and offers its offices as a drop-off location for Toys-for-Tots.
The options for getting involved first-hand are endless. There is never a bad time to start supporting your local community, whether it is to gain further leads or simply give back. Once you have started reaching out to provide your services to the community, the next step is to make sure your firm’s actions are getting noticed.
Use social media. Constantly.
Once your firm has started getting directly involved in local organizations, you can begin promoting your involvement with a few simple steps. Where some firms attempt to publicize themselves through traditional media, your firm can gain a good name in the community while coming in direct contact with leads that are more likely to want your services.
Social media is one key to advertising your firm’s name. Michael Liner of Liner Legal, LLC says, “when we sponsor events, we go all-in.” Liner Legal posts on Facebook, includes events in its monthly newsletter and sends out weekly email blasts to spread the word. This leads more people to attend the event and strengthens the firm’s public image on social media by increasing the amount of page likes and views.
How real firms benefit
Liner tells his own firm’s success story from a community-based standpoint, explaining that “the community approach to marketing has allowed us to easily reach our ‘perfect client’ without wasting our marketing message on people who don’t want the product we sell.” Liner found that giving back to the community with the help of his firm detracts from heavy monthly bills that he sees other firms paying to attract more leads. By direct interaction, the firm seems more human to potential clients, which establishes much-needed trust between the lead and the firm.
Steinberg’s Yani Smith describes her firm’s involvement as “a true testament for others, to see us practice our mission statement.” According to Smith, the firm has “received more calls because people are moved by what SLF is doing in the community.”
People notice what your firm does to make an impact. It moves them just as much as it moves volunteers to provide whatever help they can. Smith believes that volunteering adds a “higher sense of purpose” to workers’ careers and lives.
Look at the bigger picture
While there is a noticeable difference in community-based marketing compared to advertisements on television, Nestico keeps the true reason of giving back close to heart. He says, “we want our friends and neighbors to feel our presence, regardless of whether or not they ever need us for legal counsel.”
Though earning a good name for your company is an obvious goal, it is important to remember that there is fundamentally no downside to volunteering. It strengthens the self, brings coworkers closer together and provides help to neighbors in need. As Smith puts it, “simply, the gift is in the giving.”
Now get started
It is important to not start with too many goals. The best approach is to set one objective and to give that your all, whether it is setting up a fundraising event or providing disaster relief. Liner explains that, “once you have found a way to monetize your efforts with one local organization, only then should you move on to opening doors with another.”
Giving back allows you to be a positive example for your firm, strengthens your employees’ enthusiasm and heightens neighborhood networking. Nestico points out that, “it doesn’t matter if you can donate the most money, the most food, or the most toys, but if you can positively impact the community in any way at all then you should try.”
Keep your firm’s mission statement close to heart and acknowledge the personal meaning it has for you, remembering that the purpose of law practice is to protect the justice system and to give the best possible service to your clients. The results will have a positive impact on all fronts.
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