David Maister, law firm practice consultant [LexBlog Q & A]

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David Maister is a well-known figure in the legal community, who has been advising professional service firms for more than two decades. An author, blogger, public speaker and consultant, Dave wears many hats in the professional world with one ultimate goal: to help his clients achieve success.

David’s reputation and ability to make keen observations on the law led us to track him down for for today’s LexBlog Q & A. Below, he reflects on his experience in the blogosphere so far, its use in his business and more.

1.Rob La Gatta: I read an interview from four months after you started blogging, in which you sounded very enthusiastic about the amount of material you had available to write about. Now that you’ve been going at it for a while, do you still find yourself with tons of ideas? Do you ever run out of material to write about?

David Maister: At the beginning (two years ago) I was very ambitious, and blogged nearly every day with quite long think-pieces. Inevitably, I reached the point where I had exhausted my backlog and found myself asking, “What am I going to write about today?”

That’s a very dangerous situation to be in, because you face the temptation of sacrificing quality for quantity, just to come across as a regular “poster.” As in all things in life, whenever you let quantity triumph over quality, you’re on the path to big trouble.

2.Rob La Gatta: After you got the hang of blogging, did you re-evaluate how you spend your time in order to further incorporate your blog as a business development tool?

David Maister: My experience is that blogging has not proven to be a business development tool in the sense of direct business generation. To some extent, I have been surprised by the demographics of my audience, which has not turned out to be the high-level executives in large global firms (the people who hire me for my consulting practice.) Rather, the most active readers and participants on my blog have been other (younger) consultants, and young managers. So, I think my blog has served an educational purpose, but not a revenue-generating one.

To some extent, this may have been a consequence of the breadth of my interests and the topics I blog about. My perception is that a blog is most likely to help develop business if you carve out and dominate a specific niche, either focused on a specific set of issues or a specific audience. As with all marketing tactics, too much breadth diffuses the message.

3.Rob La Gatta:

In your opinion, how important is entering into the discussion taking place in the blogosphere (either through citing other bloggers, commenting on other blogs, etc)?

David Maister: It’s clear that engaging the blogosphere is valuable in building links back to your own blog, and also to know what’s being discussed. It helps your rankings on the various search engines and ranking services. However, it can all become a little incestuous – bloggers talking to bloggers.

That’s fine if you value it, but it’s unclear to me that it helps real-world business development if your business is primarily off-line. If you need to attract real world buyers, a greater involvement with the blogosphere may be a distraction.

4.Rob La Gatta: What about personally for you: has blogging been an effective way to distribute your message? Have you found yourself with more of audience now that your writing can be accessed and distributed via RSS to anyone in the world?

David Maister: As noted above, the audience has changed. I get a lot of “thank you’s” from around the world from people grateful for access to all the resources (not just the blog) on my website. That’s very gratifying. But I have to repeat, I’m not sure it’s a business. My books and articles seem to be (still) more effective than the blog itself in reaching an executive audience.

5.Rob La Gatta: What do you know now about blogging that you wish you knew when you first started?

David Maister:

The style of my blogging has moved away from an exclusive focus on my message. I now try to be a good host, posing questions submitted to me and inviting comments from my community. That approach is both successful and interesting. I’ve learned the blog doesn’t have to be – in fact shouldn’t be – just about pushing my messages out there. The essence of a blog is to interact with the community. Too few blogs even set out to do that.

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