Brent Britton, Shareholder, GrayRobinson, Tampa Florida
If marketing is theater, what is the Internet but a massive audience? Brent Britton routinely obtains business as a direct result of his participation in social media by treating the audience with whom he is connected in more or less the same way he would treat them if they met at a party. He entertains. He does not advertise to them nor does he spew marketing copy. He merely uses the social Web as a communications tool to say things that are meant to interest them.
Brent is a Shareholder and Chair of the Emerging Business and Technology Practice Group at Gray Robinson. He considers himself fortunate to have been fairly active on the Internet even before it was called the World Wide Web—literally his entire adult life. The communicative power of social media allows him to stay in touch with friends, family, and clients, and he admits he often takes that part of it for granted. However, as a lawyer of 16 years, he has always considered the Internet to be fecund business development territory.
He told me that, in 1995, he asked the managing partner of a large, worldwide law firm at which he was a lowly associate, “Why don’t we have a website?” The response? “That’s not where we get our clients.” Today, of course, almost every lawyer has a Web site. But he added that, if you ask many lawyers why they aren’t yet using Twitter, guess what answer you get? ‘That’s not where we get our clients.” Sigh.”
Brent believes that using the Internet to develop business should be second nature to most lawyers, and that social media is aptly named because it is a social event—a sort of party. He went on to say that lawyers have been developing business at social events for centuries. They attract new clients at parties by introducing themselves and engaging others in enlightening conversations. Says Brent, “We get our charisma on. We partake in witty banter and adroit repartee. In short, we get clients at parties by entertaining them… by being the kind of person they’d like to have playing for their team.”
What he doesn’t do to get clients is get “all up in their grill shouting out highlights from our resumes and reciting an exhaustive list of the multitude of services we so expertly provide.” As a result, about once a week Brent gets a call from somebody who found him online. He recently brought in a client who had seen a post on Brent C.J. Britton (his blog), www.brentbritton.com, where he discussed work-fire-hire status of copyrightable works. The prospect liked what Brent said, needed legal counsel in a similar situation and gave him a call. Brent got the engagement.
Brent’s advice to others who are contemplating using the social web for business development is to remember that people want to be engaged, entertained, or educated. Says Brent, “they are hungry for it. Say bright things and people will follow you.”
Excerpted from the forthcoming book, social.lawyers | transforming business development, by Jayne Navarre to be published in Fall 2010 by Thomson.
Brent C.J. Britton, Esq. (Shareholder, Gray Robinson, Tampa Florida) in discussion with the author, April, 2010.