The key to Law Firm Marketing is Keeping in Touch With People After a Successful Introduction

Ari Kaplan, ABA TechshowFrom Ameet Sachdev, a leading business reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where he covers legal affairs and law firms:

If the recession taught lawyers anything, it is the value of business development.

Those with large books of business or long-standing relationships with clients were more admired as corporate firms faced a downturn in legal work. The cocoon that protected lawyers respected for their critical thinking but with few business contacts was shattered.

Standing out and connecting with more people inside and outside a firm is more critical in today's stagnant economy, said Ari Kaplan, 37, a McDermott Will & Emery associate turned author and consultant. He gives advice to lawyers and law students on how to be more effective networkers beyond attending cocktail parties and collecting business cards. Kaplan will be speaking Thursday at the American Bar Association's Techshow in Chicago.

The trick is keeping in touch with people after a successful introduction, Kaplan said. Technology, including social media tools, makes that a lot easier
and allows for deeper connections that may help with a job search or a promotion.

For example, if a law firm associate would like to work for a partner, Kaplan suggests setting up a Google alert for the partner. If news comes out that the partner has won a trial or advised on a big merger, drop the partner a congratulatory e-mail.

If an associate would like to work for a corporate legal department, he proposes writing an article about a legal trend that affects that company and quotes the general counsel. It's better than making a cold call to a general counsel, Kaplan said, and the in-house lawyer gets something out of the relationship too.

"People think self-promotion is about yourself," Kaplan said. "It has nothing to do with promoting yourself. It's about promoting others and let that speak for your character. That's my philosophy."

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