Law blog trafficAmong much more, I took two things away from the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference this week.

One, blogs are now widely accepted as an effective business development tool for law firms and two, law firms and companies selling marketing solutions to law firms believe the primary purpose of a blog is to generate traffic to the law blog and to the law firm’s website.

It’s great to see blogs widely accepted, but it’s sad to see that many folks don’t understand what law blogs are all about. Blogging is a conversation where you engage others so as to build trust, a word of mouth reputation, and relationships. Blogging is a form of networking. The goal is not to draw traffic and attention.

Could you imagine someone going to a networking event and running around shaking everyone’s hand? Maybe even slapping in everyone’s hand a copy of something they wrote. “Something’s got to stick. Somebody’s bound to love me. Someone’s bound to call, I had my phone number, email, twitter handle, and LinkedIn link on every page.” That’s called networking spam.

Stephen Fairley (@stephenfairley), CEO and founder of the Rainmaker Institute, addressed the question of how someone could expand the reach of their law firm blog with 5 tips to spread the influence of a blog. Social media, newsletter, SEO, press releases, and posting to websites, such as JD Supra, Avvo, and the National Law Review.

Fairley, a nice guy, is not alone in his view that traffic to a blog grows the blog’s influence. Any number of speakers at the Legal Marketing Association spoke about how to generate traffic to blogs. And the companies offering solutions to generate wider dissemination content are run by great people offering good solutions. Traffic just ought not to be your guiding force in blogging.

Let traffic be your guiding force and you’ll start posting each of your blog posts across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and in multiple groups in LinkedIn without sharing others content in social media before your own. You run a high risk of looking like a spammer.

I use social media. My blog and the other thousand on our network are optimized to be indexed so as to be readily found on search. But I’d answer the question of how someone could expand the reach of their law firm blog differently.

Knowing that blogging is about engaging others, the key to growing influence is not traffic, it’s about engaging the right people. Traffic, and even fame, may come from engagement. But they are by-products of engagement, not the primary goal.

Want to increase the influence of your blog and your influence as a lawyer through blogging? Listen to what thought leaders and influencers are saying online. Engage reporters, leading bloggers, and association leaders through your blog by referencing what they are saying and providing your insight and commentary as a follow on. You’ll be seen by these folks and many will begin to follow you — so long as you’re sincere in bringing value to the conversation and not looking to garner attention.

Robert Scoble (@scobleizer), one of the most influential bloggers in the country, made clear years ago that the size of one’s audience is not what matters for blog success. Success in blogging is about establishing yourself as a trusted and reliable authority through entering online conversations with the key influencers in your field.

This style of blogging allows you to build trust, a word of mouth reputation, and relationships. This style of blogging will bring you the type of work you are looking for from the type of clients you’ll enjoy working for.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Watchsmart.