As summer begins so too does the familiar conference circuit. Attorneys and legal marketers book the group rate across the country for industry association conferences and trade shows, looking to ‘increase their exposure,’ ‘know the industry,’ ‘network with key decision makers,’ and collect tote bags. We leave these events with a renewed energy, a few promising leads, some clever new angle and usually about the same amount of work as before.
A real score is getting that speaking opportunity or serving on the panel. Now you have a packed room, a captive audience absorbing all of your legal sagacity. Your name is on the program! When you get back to the office, you can have it added to your bio. You’re a thought leader now. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
And yet, still, where is the new work?
Like a great many things in life, what you are doing is perfectly fine and you are being held back by what you are not doing. You need to stuff envelopes.
Conferences are mini-vacations, thinly veiled in a cloak of professional development. There’s nothing secret, or even underhanded, about this. But a group of individuals so dedicated to their industry that they work the equivalent of a part-time job throughout the year for no pay have to actually perform a lot of boring, menial tasks to actually make this mini-vacation happen; to bring joy to their colleagues and justify next year’s membership dues.
Presenting to a room full of potential clients in your area of expertise smack dab in the middle of the morning session is an accomplishment; an acknowledgement of your own professional success. It looks great on the firm’s website. Staying an hour later to move chairs from the tables to the corner of the room to help get it ready for the evening gala is an excellent way to win new work. It looks great on the firm’s balance sheet.
By now we are all well-versed in the mantra of adding value. We must add value. It is not enough to perform a legal task competently, you need to add value for your clients. Attorneys continue to find brilliant, innovative ways to add value to the clients they serve. But too often we think of adding value in terms far too narrow. You do not need to limit yourself to adding value as an attorney by way of just your legal creativity and solutions. Add value as a human being.
Conference attendees will remember the speakers for a couple of weeks, maybe a month. They will remember the attorney that spoke and also worked the registration desk, greeting guests as they came in to help out the Board Member, connected and known to everyone in attendance, for much, much longer. Now you are no longer the transportation attorney with 20 years of experience servicing eastern North Carolina clients with their risk management needs. You’re John, and we could not have put this conference on without you.
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Photo credit: Flickr, jenn (CC BY 2.0)