When it comes to advertising one desires a short term return. But good attorneys get their work by word of mouth reputation, not advertising.

How much time does it take to develop a strong word of mouth reputation as an attorney? Should you be willing to invest years into developing a reputation as a trusted subject matter expert through blogging?

Marketer and author, Seth Godin, shared an interesting perspective on time yesterday.

Until the transcontinental railroad, there were no time zones. Each village kept its own time, based on its own steeple and its own high noon. And why not? There was no good reason to go through the pain of coordinating the clocks…….The web is asynchronous. Time frames have accelerated (started/funded/built/sold!) at the same time they have slowed down. It’s up to you to decide how long your time horizon is–perhaps you’re willing to invest five years into building a solid reputation on a web platform. The decision to work at a different rate than others can be a significant competitive advantage.

Your decision to take years to develop a solid reputation through the net puts you at a competitive advantage over other lawyers.

Most lawyers and law firms are looking for the quick fix and fast name recognition when it comes to the Internet. Whether it be websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or what have you, everyone wants to measure ROI and they want to measure it now.

I’m reminded by the 1970’s Smith Barney television commercials with famous actor and producer, John Houseman, which branded the investment company as earning their money the old fashioned way, they earned it.

One ad with Houseman walking through a garden portrayed a bee buzzing by a flower. Houseman asked who is busier than a bee?

Who else than the investment firm of Smith Barney. Why in the world do they world do they work so hard? Because Smith Barney knows that old fashioned work is often the the difference between getting stung and getting a taste of the honey. Smith Barney, they make money the old fashioned way, they earn it.

It takes hard work to earn a reputation as a lawyer. There are no shortcuts through blogging.

Many lawyers on the LexBlog Network who have established themselves as thought leaders and who are bringing in not just clients, but high quality clients, through blogging have taken years, not months, to develop their reputation. They’ve found a competitive advantage over lawyers unwilling to work hard for two or three years.

If it took 5 years of hard work to build a solid reputation so you were doing the type of work you dreamed of doing for the types of clients you dreamed of having, would that be so bad? Do you think that would put you at a competitive advantage over other lawyers who passed on the hard work?

Watch Houseman in the Smith Barney television ad, it should resonate with you as a lawyer. Excuse the fact we didn’t have the video resolution of today forty years ago. ;)

  • Excellent points about how to develop an online presence and ways to differentiate your expertise from the competition. I urge JobWhiz clients to adopt social media as a way to interact and attract potential business/career opportunities. Networking has always been how successful professionals built their reputations. Today, it is not sufficient to restrict visibility to real life events. The people you want to know you, i.e. customers, colleagues, thought leaders in your insdustry, etc., are sourcing leads online. Therefore, you must be present (and demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, trustworthy and credible) in their virtual world in order to be on their radar screens. Your carefully designed digital footprint ensures that you will be recognized for your area of expertise and memorable to generate referrals and recommendations.