Janet Falk is a Speaker, Writer, and Consultant at her firm, Falk Communications and Research. She is a communications professional who advises attorneys at small law firms and solo practices on media relations and marketing communication. With her expertise, lawyers are able to attract new clients, remain top-of-mind with prior clients, and help recruit new associates to their firms. She has published articles in The New York Law Journal, The New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing The Law Firm.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Who is Janet Falk?
- Best practices for networking in a pandemic.
- How to get the best out of a networking group.
- Missed opportunities on Zoom calls—and how to leverage them
- Crafting an effective elevator pitch.
- How to use the chat function on Zoom meetings.
- What to do in breakout room sessions during a networking event on Zoom?
- Staying top-of-mind with clients and reconnecting with colleagues.
In this episode…
As attorneys, you often get your best clients from referrals. And where do those referrals come from? They come from your network, but networking in the age of COVID doesn’t seem like a promising venture. There is a way to make your networking efforts successful and extract the rewards that come along as a result, even if most networking events are now virtual.
It begins with a small mindset change. According to Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research, you’ve got to get into networking to win it. For success, you have to put yourself out there, provide solutions to people, connect with them, and earn the referrals you deserve. Unsure how to take the first step?
Join the conversation on this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research as they talk about tips for networking successfully in a pandemic. Highlights include networking best practices, joining a networking group, getting the best out of virtual networking events, crafting an effective elevator pitch, and more.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.
You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Matthew Laurin 0:22
Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful professionals in the legal industry from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing we help law firms generate more clients in cases using search marketing. And today I’d like to welcome our podcast guest Janet Falk. Janet is the head of Falk Communications and Research. Janet is a communications professional who advises attorneys at small law firms and solo practices on media relations and marketing communication in order to attract new clients, remain top of mind with prior clients and help recruit new associates into their firms. She has published articles in the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing The Law Firm said Did I say that right? Yes, the New Jersey Law Journal and marketing the law firm. Is that the name of the publication?
Janet Falk 1:15
No there are three publications, the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing the law firm.
Matthew Laurin 1:23
Okay, we’re all published by HLN. She has published articles in the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal and marketing the law firm. Janet, welcome to the show.
Janet Falk 1:32
Matthew, I’m so happy to be here.
Matthew Laurin 1:35
Can you tell our audience a little bit more about yourself?
Janet Falk 1:38
Certainly, if you look at my logo, Matthew, you’ll see it’s an F, seated in the shape of an octagon. I like to think that I’m not a round peg. I’m not a square peg. I’m an octagonal peg. I have a very eclectic background. I have a PhD in Spanish literature. I taught at the college level. Then I migrated to working on Wall Street. And then I became involved with public relations and marketing communications. In my course, in the course of my career, I have worked with public relations agencies, Wall Street firms, and with nonprofits. And now I have an independent practice, though, I’m a consultant to, as you mentioned, law firms that are under 50 attorneys, or people who have a solo practice. And I also work with business owners, and consultants, and consultants and the occasional nonprofit, I help them in a variety of ways. I look at their LinkedIn profile and make sure that it’s polished, and attracting the right kind of visitors. I make sure that their website is up to date. I help them publish articles and with their newsletters. And of course, I introduce them to reporters so that they can talk about timely business issues that are going to affect individuals, business owners, or even corporations.
Matthew Laurin 3:00
Thank you so much for your intro, and that it does sound like you have a really eclectic background. I like the the logo and the octagon that’s that’s, that’s really different. I’ve never heard that before. And today you will be bestowing wisdom on us with the five personal networking tips for zoom meetings.
Janet Falk 3:16
Right, right. So we’re here to talk about networking. And I do want to mention that networking is what brought me to this podcast, one of your colleagues, James Nguyen, who lives in California, asked a legal marketing professional, Larry Bodine, who lives in Arizona, if he knew of any legal marketing professionals who might make good guests for the podcast. And Larry recommended me, I live in New York. So you can see that between California, Arizona, New York, this is how networking works, where people who have an allied interest can refer each other possibilities and opportunities. And by the way, Larry Bodine and I have never met, we have a strictly digital relationship by email, I have contributed articles to his publications and, and so forth. So there you have it, networking at its finest.
Matthew Laurin 4:15
I love that, how you kind of plucked that unique benefit out of networking in this weird time that we’re going through. Um, and that is a really huge plus, like, a lot of the people that I work with right now, I’ve never even met in person before, but we know a lot about each other. We work on a daily basis and in you know, personal networking in the age of COVID. It just doesn’t seem to be a really good match, but you’ve found a way to make it really successful and pull out a lot of the benefits. Um, can you walk us through some of the best practices that you you coach your clients on?
Janet Falk 4:50
Sure. I want to say that you have to be in it to win it is just like the lottery. You have to show up. There isn’t a whole lot of networking going on. in your living room, so you have to get out there and be in the marketplace. A lot of groups no longer have a fee, because they want to encourage membership. They’re not paying to rent the room, and they’re certainly not serving meals. So take advantage of the fact that you can be visiting these groups, because you’re not paying any money to do so. And how do you find these groups? One way is to ask your referral sources or your clients, ask them to introduce you to the group that they attend. And that way you can keep up to date with what our issues for that particular sector or that particular industry, and you can remain current with what’s going on. And you will be extending your network, because the context that you make there are going to lead you to other possibilities. And if you’re already involved in some groups yourself, then you can invite those same referral sources and clients to your group. And that way, they can be extending their reach out, one hand washes the other, you have to be in it to win it. You have to be out there and participating in groups. Nobody’s going to meet you if you’re staying home alone.
Matthew Laurin 6:10
That’s great advice. If so for people participating in these groups that you obviously have to show up and, and participate. Is there a goal that you would recommend for people like, you know, you should make an attempt to, you know, learn at least three people’s names? Or are they designed in a way to get engagement?
Janet Falk 6:28
Well, I think going to have a goal, there are multiple goals for attending a networking event, I like to view myself as the hub of a wheel. And I collect resources. So I want to meet people of many different backgrounds, because I never know where something’s going to leave. A couple of months ago, I attended a networking group, and I met someone who was a cyber security professional. And a couple months later, I had a client who was in a compromised situation with her cell phone and with her computer, and she needed a cybersecurity professional to help her out. So there you have it, I collect resource resource. I think everyone represents a solution. And everyone has a problem. So by participating in diverse networking groups, I collect resources, I learned about people solutions, I learned about people’s problems, and then I’m able to make the match and put those two people together. So that’s a primary reason why I go to networking groups. There’s another reason to go to networking groups, and that is to learn from the speaker. Right? Many groups are getting together, they’re having a networking session when this was in person before and then the speaker would speak. And then afterwards, it would be more networking opportunities. So in that situation, you want to learn from that person, they are standing at the front of the room, because they know something that you don’t, and you want to benefit from their experience. And if you’ve found something valuable, then you can take that back. And you can write a LinkedIn post or put it in a newsletter and say, you know, great insights I gleaned from a speaker at the moment. And this is what I think other people would benefit from. So you can learn from the speaker, and then you can disseminate that information to your network. Another reason to be involved is to be in touch with what’s happening, informally find out who has a hot case, find out who’s moving their office who’s growing their practice, was looking to hire, and you can make interesting connections in that way as well. So people will look to you as a source of information, because you have been sharing what’s topical, what you have learned, you will be sharing the resources that you have with your diversified group of contacts. And you will be in touch with the scuttlebutt of what is hot and tight and current, what’s happening in the local geography or even in the industry. So those are some of the many reasons why it’s important to be involved in networks.
Matthew Laurin 9:11
I had no idea that you know, just having an open mind, you’d be able to peel so many layers back from this. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, I noticed your background is customized with your name, your contact information. Can you talk a little bit more about that too?
Janet Falk 9:26
Right. I think this is a missed opportunity. I happen to have viewed a few of your earlier podcasts, Matthew and I noticed that you have to go back to September to find someone who use this as a branding opportunity. And that person I’m sorry to say, underplayed it. He just had the banner from his booth at a trade show, and it had his logo, MOD, which nobody knows what that is, it actually means My Out Desk. So if you’re going to be on a zoom call, then take the opportunity to make your contact information. And information about yourself and your practice more visible, because everybody’s able to see it. And there are many templates that are available online. Now you have to remember that this is a frame, and you are seated in the middle of the frame. So I’ve seen people that take their logo, and they plop it smack dab in the middle of the picture. Well, that’s not very helpful because I’m sitting in the middle of the picture. So I encourage your viewers and your listeners to get a customized virtual zoom background, use the templates that are available online and put your contact information there. Because that way you will stand out. I can’t tell you how many rooms I’ve seen that I wish I hadn’t seen before.
Matthew Laurin 10:48
That’s funny. And I noticed yours is simple but effective. So it’s got your name, phone number, email, and then your title or what you do. Right.
Janet Falk 10:57
Right. Right. So there is no mistake, everybody can clearly see what it is I do the value that I bring, and they can easily get into.
Matthew Laurin 11:07
Great advice. I also noticed here that you just have a solid background is that is that intentional, you do not want to have a lot going on. So the people that are just drawn to the contact information.
Janet Falk 11:20
I want people to be drawn to my face.
Matthew Laurin 11:23
Janet Falk 11:27
Yeah, no, you don’t want it to be too busy.
Matthew Laurin 11:30
Okay, okay. Noted. Your I wanted to switch gears again here to your your elevator pitch, which is Tip number four on your on your slides here. So crafting an effective elevator pitch. Is that
Janet Falk 11:45
a grammar? Okay, right. So by now everybody should have an elevator pitch, it’s 30 seconds. It’s between 75 and 84 words. And the idea of your elevator pitch is to summarize your skill or your practice area, you might want to mention a target client that you worked with, or a target referral source. And then you speak about how you help that particular client. Now many people say my name is Janet Falk, I’m public relations professional and I work with an attorney. By the time you’ve heard three or four of these, you’ve already forgotten what the first one said. So I have a very different approach. public speakers say use the first 15 seconds when the audience is primed to listen to what you have to say, and capture their attention. And the way to do that is to start with a question or to tell a story. And that way you will stand out from everybody else that’s giving there. My name is and this is what I do with this in this company. I’ll give you mine. And that’ll give you a flavor for how this works. When you see someone in the news, and they’re talking about your area of practice, do you think why are they talking to her and not me? The answer is reporters call the people they know, they don’t call an attorney they’ve never heard of. I’m Janet Falk, a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professionals. And I help attorneys who have a small firm or a solo practice to get in the news. So they can be top of mind with their referral sources and attract new business. If being in the news will attract more clients for you and help you to grow your practice. Be in touch with me Janet Falk, strategy for news coverage and revenue growth. Now you can see that is very different from the I am is such and such, and I work at such and such, right, because I have asked a question that immediately grabbed your attention, right? Why are they talking to her and not me, I’m sure you agree that lawyers tend to be a little competitive. And so the thought that another person is getting in the news is really going to hurt them. And the second thing is that I give a call to action. I say if being in the news is going to help you grow your practice, then be in touch with me. So I have described what the problem is, how I can help you and why you should get in touch with me. So I encourage your viewers to think about their elevator pitch and turn it on its head in this way so that it will capitalize on the fact that people are waiting to hear what you have to say and get. give that information and then practice it. Practice it so that you can do it at the drop of a hat just like I did. And the way to practice it is to record it and use a stopwatch and that way you will make sure that you keep it within the 30 to 45 seconds. That is usually the guideline for networking groups. What do you say?
Matthew Laurin 14:53
My favorite part about that is that you shifted it from being focused on you to focus On the audience and their pain points, which was one of my questions in the beginning, and you kind of already answered it. But it was, you know, do you make it less me focused and more, you know, include a pain point about your audience, because that’s what we do. Every time I hear an elevator pitch, or every time I read marketing language on a website or things like that, a lot of it is me focused and people don’t really speak to their their audience. So I like how you did that is that that’s intentional, right?
Janet Falk 15:27
Yeah, exactly. It’s never about me, it’s always about you, right. And you is the person who you want to be interested in your services. So you have to make it about the reader so that they will see themselves in the situation, and then want to be a part of it. So I give you an example. That’s visual, and I think you’ll understand, I had a client that was a park, and they had beautiful grounds. And they hadn’t shot a photograph of two Adirondack chairs, overlooking the river. Now, just because there are empty chairs doesn’t mean you want to go there. You know, my suggestion was that they take a picture of a married couple, pushing a child in a stroller from the back, don’t see the face. And then you would see that there are paved walkways in the park. And then you would think, aha, I can bring my child in a stroller there, I can bring my father in law in his wheelchair there. If you see people in the picture, you want to be in the picture. So it’s never about me, it’s always about you. And by talking about this competitive aspect of being in the news, I have captured your attention and help you to envision, yes, I want to be that person was quoted in the news.
Matthew Laurin 16:51
Your fifth tip here is about something that I don’t think a lot of people notice, probably because they’re not used to the platform. Or maybe there’s just a lot going on, but chat in zoom meetings.
Janet Falk 17:01
Right? Right. So there’s two ways of looking at the chat in a zoom meeting. First, you can broadcast to everybody. And what I suggest you do is that you prepare your contact information ahead of time. So you can see as I have on my virtual background, I have my name, something about my practice, my phone number, my email address, I could also include my website URL, and I have saved that as a draft email, so that when I’m in the zoom meeting, I just copy and paste that information right into the chat. So I don’t have to worry if I forgotten something, or if I have a typo, I know that it’s perfect. And when you paste that information about your contact into the zoom chat, you wait until the middle of the session, don’t do it in the beginning, because people are kind of drifting in, and maybe they won’t see it. And don’t do it at the end because people are leaving, and they might not see it. But do it in the middle. And you can do it more than once. So that everybody will have your contact information. The second thing about chat is that you should be monitoring who are the participants in the event. And when you identify someone that you know already, or someone makes a comment that you find industry interesting. Then you click on the box, which has their picture, and in the upper right corner, you touch chat, and then you can send a private message to that person. And then they will be notified that you have contacted them. So you can say hi, Matthew, how’s it going? How do you like the new office? Or Hi, Matthew, you’re a long time no see, or Hi, Matthew, your practice is so interesting, I work in a similar area. So you can be having a private conversation alongside whatever else is going on in the networking meeting. Now, you have to be careful to only chat to that individual person. Many times inadvertently. We’ve all seen someone send a chat to everyone, which was really meant to one person. And that happens. I want to point out that you can save the chat yourself by clicking the three dots in the lower corner. But you want to mention that you want to be careful because the moderator of the meeting can save all the chats. And that means the everyone chats and that means the private chat. So don’t say anything in a private chat that you don’t want to see in the front page of the newspaper. Right keep it clean.
Matthew Laurin 19:39
That’s great advice. And if we are probably not something a lot of people think about is like oh, this could be saved for later. Is there anything additional besides contact information people could put in a chat like is it against or you know, not not effective to put in maybe like your LinkedIn profile or any other kind of information about yourself?
Janet Falk 19:59
I’ve seen people put in their LinkedIn profile. I mean, that’s okay. But you know, I don’t want to feel compelled to follow up on something like that. Sometimes, if it’s relevant, and I’ve written an article or I’ve written a newsletter on a topic, then I will share the link to that. But it takes a couple minutes for me to get that ready, and then to post it, and by that time, the conversation might have moved on. So you know, it is a little time sensitive. If you have something that’s current, if you say, you know, I’m going to be giving a presentation on networking for p Li, and it’s taking place on this in this state, here’s the link to register, you know, you can coordinate your speech with posting in the chat. So that’s one thing. But most of the time, if you have an idea, or an article or something like that, then it takes a little while and the conversation might have gotten ahead of you, you have to be careful, it’s easier to do that when you’re in the small group. Many times the large networking events disperse the participants into smaller groups. And so there you tend to have a little more time because everybody’s focused on the four or five people who are in that row. Oh, and by the way, I have an idea about that show. I mentioned it.
Matthew Laurin 21:16
Janet Falk 21:17
Yeah. So what happens when you are dispersed into the smaller breakout room? Right? Everybody’s looking around saying who’s in charge? Well, I’ll tell you, who’s in charge here, Matthew, you are in charge, right? You step up to the plate, and you say, I’m Janet, well, I’m public relations professional, I want to share my elevator pitch with everybody in the room. And then I’m going to call on each of you so that you can share your elevator pitch, right. So don’t sit around waiting for somebody else to be in charge, you be in charge, you know, call on everyone and give them knowledge. Now, it may be that when you were dispersed to the small group, that the leader of the large group has posed a question for you. So you can leave that discussion. But what if they did it? And then once everybody has given their elevator pitch, then you come up with a question, come up with a question that everyone can answer. It’s not specific to a practice area. instead say, what do you think about business development? And during the COVID time, what are you doing about your newsletter? What are you doing about speaking engagements? Have you been on any podcast? What do you recommend about the podcast universe and so on? So ask a question that everybody can answer. And then when you go back to the large room, you can say, we had such a lively discussion about podcasts. And I want to tell you that Matthew, Laurin had this great idea. And I’m going to share it with everyone. So now your name is being broadcast to everyone in the room. They’re all hearing your great idea. And I’ve made you look brilliant. And you think I’m your best friend.
Matthew Laurin 22:56
That’s awesome. And I, so a lot of people might be thinking, How do I sort of step outside of my comfort zone and do that? I mean, a lot of people might be sort of reluctant to take charge in a group setting like that. any tips you have for that?
Janet Falk 23:12
Is what I said at the beginning, you have to be in it to win it. I mean, you know, there’s no point sitting around and watching everybody else, wait for somebody to take charge, right? We’re all adults, we all know that we’re here to discuss and connect. And it’s not going to happen unless somebody makes it happen. So you know, I’m happy to do that. And if someone else wants to do it, fine. I’ll sit back and I’ll participate like everybody else.
Matthew Laurin 23:35
I’m one of your other tips is staying top of mind and reconnecting with colleagues? Can you speak a little bit more to that?
Janet Falk 23:41
Sure. There are so many ways that you can keep in touch with people. Of course, as we mentioned earlier, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, say I really enjoyed our conversation at such and such networking group. Let’s keep in touch and I want to get together with you outside. If you mentioned any newsletters or any articles, you can send them to that person, you can offer to introduce them to a colleague, someone who has an aligned interest because they work in a similar practice, right? They might deal with automobile accidents, and you might deal with construction worker accidents, it may be that you want to introduce them to a referral source. And you might even be part of that conversation. You introduce the two of them and then you are a member of a three way conversation. Maybe people have a newsletter, and I want to remind your viewers that if they don’t have a newsletter, which I’m sure it’s a service you provide, they should have one at least quarterly, if not monthly. And then you can sign up for another person’s newsletter and ask them to subscribe to your newsletter. In fact, in my email signature, I have a link to my current newsletter and a link so that you can subscribe here. You can suggest the topic and maybe co author an article with that person. Or co present a webinar or co present on a podcast. There are other ways that you can partner up and make each other look smart. You can tell them about an upcoming webinar or event or a podcast that they might like to attend whether or not you’re going to be speaking, you can invite them to be an event that you’re going to attend. Oftentimes, when I have a conversation with someone, then I get some nugget of information that I find is very valuable. So I write a LinkedIn post. And I say, I had a great conversation with Matthew Laurin, we talked about podcasting, and one of his tips is x by put that as a LinkedIn post, and then I grab his photo from his LinkedIn profile. And I put it in there so that it makes it more visible and more interesting to people who are scrolling through. And now I’m giving him notice that he’s being shared with my network, and other people are going to hear what it is that he has to say. So I think that there were just so many ways that you can be digitally present, and inviting other people to participate with you whether you want to have a three way conversation with some people who have allied interest, whether you want to invite them to an event where you’re going to be attending or you’re going to be speaking, whether you want to work on a project with them, you know, coming up with an idea for an article or a webinar or appearing on a podcast together, maybe you know that a publication is looking for articles on a certain topic. So many of the legal publications like the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal has special sections. And they’re always looking for articles, by attorneys on, you know, trends in the States or personal injury or complex litigation, you can find out about such things and then share it with your network, invite people to be authors for such a publication. So I think there’s so many ways that you can be reminding people of opportunities. And then, as I mentioned before, they will see you as the hub of resources of the person to contact, who has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry, who can provide them with sources for help, or sources who can refer them on to someone else. And just keep building that network so that we will continue to be seen as the person who has ideas that can help others.
Matthew Laurin 27:29
It sounds like you have to be very intentional about it, not just go to these events, and then maybe think of some stuff to do afterwards plan. I’m going to do an email, I’m going to have a draft of an email ready, I’m going to mention these people on social media, I’m going to post on social media, I’m going to be very active, all of those things. Right.
Janet Falk 27:48
Right. You can do some of them, you don’t have to do all of them. I mean, obviously I have listed too many things that a lawyer is going to do in their unbuildable time. But I do think that you should try to do them, try to do different types. There’s people who say that there are five ways of getting business, right. So the first way is networking. And here we are having this conversation about networking. The second way is speaking, I’m speaking on a podcast, right, or you can be speaking to a bar association. The third way is writing. So I mentioned that I have a monthly newsletter, you should have a newsletter at least quarterly. Or you can write articles or trade publications that your clients read, or you can write articles or legal publications that you’re referring client, you’re referring attorney colleagues are going to send you business, right. So networking, speaking, writing, then the fourth way is being active in the trade association of your target market. So I am interested in working with attorneys, I belong to three networking groups of attorneys. So one is deliberate solos here in New York, mostly, and they are people who have chosen to have the solo practice. The second one is women owned law. And that is membership organization, I pay a fee for that. And it is women who are partners are who have their own practice or who have a solo practice, or women owned businesses that serve the legal market. And then the third is called legal Resource Network, which is legal professionals and those who serve the legal market. So I am active in all of these groups, and I share ideas with them and I attend their events. And I have spoken to the three groups. And then the first way is extend your presence online. So everything that I do in terms of networking, speaking, writing, and being active in these groups, I mentioned to my online community. Now I want to point out that LinkedIn as wonderful as it is, whatever you post on LinkedIn only goes to 9% of your contacts if you post things on Facebook, It only goes to 2% of your content. If you post on Twitter, it only is seen by 1% of your content. So if you don’t want to be seen by more than 90% of the people, then don’t be active on social media. But if you do want to be seen there, then my I encourage your listeners to be active on LinkedIn. But you have to do it successively, because you’re only going to get 9%, and then 9%, and then 9% over time. So those are the ways that I encourage you to be active, and to develop your practice through networking, which is the most valuable. attorneys say that they get their best clients from referrals. Where do referrals come from? They come from your network. So if you’re not in it to win it, you’re not out there. If you’re not providing solutions to people, if you’re not connecting people, then you’re not going to get those referrals.
Matthew Laurin 31:00
a wealth of really great information to help people grow their businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Janet Falk, a Head of Falk Communications and Research, Janet, where can people go to learn more about your services?
Janet Falk 31:12
Certainly, my website is Janet. JANET L is law. F is friends, ALk.com. JanetlFalk.com. And by the way, I offer a free 30 minute consultation, we can look at your LinkedIn profile, we can look at your communication strategy, talk about your media outreach, talk about your newsletter, be in touch with me.
Matthew Laurin 31:38
Thank you so much for being on the show and spending your time and sharing all of your information with us.
Janet Falk 31:43
I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
Thanks for listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.