One of the most notable transitions that we have grown accustomed to in 2020 is that of the digital meeting space. Face-to-face environments have been replaced with thumbnail versions of our personas. While we might find ourselves longing for a handshake and a happy hour, not all of the outcomes of the digital transition are so bad. In fact, the recent CLIO Cloud Conference was a great success considering the huge shift from a large, social conference to a completely remote operation.
While a digital conference will never have the same dynamic energy as a bustling crowd, there are new opportunities to be found if you are adaptable – an overarching theme of the CLIO conference. After attending the week-long lawyering convention, here are some take-aways that might help you successfully navigate your next digital conference.
Showing up for the conference means more than buying the ticket. Whether you spend $30 or $300 for your ticket, the value of it is only maximized if you invest your time as well as your money. This means you need to show up every day prepared to engage.
Pick a handful of seminars to fully devote yourself to. Put up a Do Not Disturb sign in your office. Better yet, attend those seminars from home, the local library, Starbucks, or wherever you have a good connection and won’t be pinged for other tasks. If the conference is just background noise, the insights will likely get lost in the shuffle.
Show up to some of the other of less flashy seminars as well. The ones with the less sexy titles will probably be smaller, providing a better opportunity to ask the speaker questions and network with others in the seminar.
One of the surprisingly fun activities in the CLIO conference was the sidebar chat. For those of us (me!) who feel socially awkward in large groups, this was a great feature. In an in-person conference, it can feel extremely awkward to eavesdrop on other conversations and jump right in. However, with the sidebar chat in the conference, the conversational entrances are much more fluid.
For example, Seth Godin gave an unsurprisingly phenomenal presentation on marketing. He raised a number of excellent points on how to make your firm the place that clients are happy they turned to. As he spoke, conference members engaged in sidebar conversation on how his messaging fit their brands. I was able to dialogue seamlessly with a number of attendees, establishing an organic connection.
The more you respond to questions in the chat, the more visibility your name gets. That is a huge advantage when it comes to networking. Instead of being a cold name trying to connect with someone, you have already made an introduction to everyone reading the chat panel.
If you are just showing up to the seminars and aren’t networking with anyone, you are missing out on half of the conference. Beyond the chat function, there are several opportunities for you to establish relationships with other conference members and presenters. While every conference is different, CLIO offered open forum dialogue opportunities for attendees to ask specific questions to the panelists. Additionally, attendees could reserve chat rooms to discuss topics that they found relevant.
While it is fun to dive deep into topics that are being presented during the conference, forming relationships with other attendees is a benefit that can have long-lasting impacts.
One of the great points that several presenters covered was saying no to business. You cannot and should not be everything to every client. If you don’t specialize to some degree, you will end up like a cake designer who is also a locksmith. While you will end up turning away business, you can establish referral partnerships with other firms. If you are a Personal Injury lawyer, find a great Workers Comp lawyer that you can refer clients to, et vice versa. You will support each other’s practices, and the clients will end up in the best hands.
You can also find great service providers through networking at these conferences. Not only was Optimize My Firm chatting with lawyers, but so were a handful of other reputable companies that provide time-saving, tech-savvy services to help streamline marketing, client relations, and financial management for firms.
At the end of a conference, like the end of summer camp, you can say that you will keep in touch and write letters all year. However, unless you actually take the time to connect on LinkedIn and send a follow-up email, those relationships stay at camp.
When you chat with someone at the CLIO conference, you can click on their profile and get their contact information. If they are someone you want to follow up with, you can easily save their info so that you can connect with them later. I highly recommend making a note along with their contact information that will jog your memory about why you wanted to connect with them. Did they have an interesting insight on growth strategy? Do your kids go to the same school? Think you might be long lost cousins?
Make a note. Then follow up.
Send an email. They want to hear from you. Set up a Zoom call and figure out how you can support each other.
Implement the Strategies
As you attend the seminars, take notes. There will likely be excellent suggestions that could positively shape your firm. The only way you will benefit from the suggestions, though, is if you make a plan to implement them and follow through. Otherwise, you just get the warm-fuzzies for the moment then go back to the same old routine.
Make a plan.
Think of the actionable items that you can implement today. Want to make your firm more inviting to clients? You can get a coffee machine today. You can get some plants to brighten up the office today.
Make some goals for the following months. Want to get more reviews? Make an actionable plan to follow up with clients.
What outcomes do you want to have in place by the end of the year? Do you want to rank on the first page of Google? Then set up a call with some SEO people this week and get started on it.
Many things have changed in 2020, but many things haven’t:
Show Up: Unless you are actively showing up in life, you are going to miss out. Be present.
Speak Up: Unless you are speaking up, you will be left out of the conversation. Be heard.
Network: Even though our community is more remote, be a part of it. Be social.
Follow Up: The relationships you don’t follow-up with end up falling away. Be engaged.
Implement: Ideas are worthless unless they are followed by action. Be active.