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I used to be a very, very minor rock star. Despite my distinct lack of talent as a drummer, our band, Myopic Son, had the opportunity to play Summerfest (the World’s Largest Music Festival in Milwaukee, WI), dozens of colleges, and hundreds of other gigs.
At almost every show we played, people would come up and say, “You guys are great. I listen to your album all the time.” I’d reply, “Really? Until you just told me, I had no idea.” Isn’t that funny? Not until the right opportunity (being in the same room with us after a show where we performed) would people tell us how much they enjoyed our music.
This same phenomenon happens today too, and you don’t need to be a proper rock star to experience it. Social media is the greatest mechanism ever invented for those responsible for business development at your firm (called “rainmakers” through the rest of this article) to become known to their target market, and if they use social media the way I describe below, they’ll start receiving accolades in real life from their fans, too.
Like many business development activities, this is going to take some work. If your rainmakers begin investing one hour per business day, (three 20-minute chunks each), following the formula I’m giving you here, their personal brand will start to explode on social media. Think of it as their Personal Branding Power Hour.
The Power Hour
I personally do this first thing each morning and move through the three 20-minute sections consecutively. Some may prefer to do them all at night, or disperse the chunks throughout the day. Regardless, encourage your rainmakers to do what’s most comfortable for them, and start building momentum. They’ll eventually form a habit, and very quickly be off to the races.
Here’s how the three sections break down:
• First 20 minutes: Write
• Second 20 minutes: Use Social Media effectively
• Third 20 minutes: Learn by doing research based on interactions with clients
Here are the steps in more detail, but before you circulate this idea to your rainmakers, a quick mechanical component:
1. Those implementing these steps need to be very, very disciplined about the 20-minute limit on each activity. Encourage them to set a timer, and when it goes off, to stop. Why is this important? The 20-minute increments (especially the second one) can easily expand to a half hour or more. We need your rainmakers to associate — in their minds — this Personal Branding Power Hour as exactly that … an hour they invest in themselves. No more, no less.
2. If you have any big productivity dorks like me at your firm, they’ll get bonus points if they spend this hour on a treadmill desk or some equivalent form of exercise. Imagine — before breakfast each day — at a 3-MPH pace on a walking treadmill — they’ll already have walked 6,000 steps AND invested an hour in their personal brand. Remember, the asset that is their personal brand will only grow more valuable over time.
First 20 minutes: Write
At 5:15 CST each business day, I receive an email from Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that matches a writer from a publication with a source. It’s what I’ve used to earn features/quotes in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Money Magazine, Costco Connection and dozens of other media. I also credit it with giving me the necessary chops to earn a column with The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and, of course, Marketing the Law Firm.
Aside from the obvious publicity/PR aspect, there’s a tremendous advantage to the free service — a writer is sharing the news with you before it happens. Why is this important? Well, what’s the hardest thing about writing? Staring at a blank screen thinking, “What should I write?”
With HARO, a writer is cueing your rainmakers with a question they simply need to answer. After answering 240+ queries, I’ve found it to be — by far — the best way to know what to write. If they start using HARO and begin writing for 20 minutes each business day, your rainmakers will start their Personal Branding Power Hour with a bang.
Second 20 minutes: Use Social Media Effectively
Grasping this concept alone will make the time you’ve invested reading this article worth it. How can your rainmakers use social media effectively? Two keys:
• Have a strategy.
• Have a list of priorities listed in descending order.
Here’s the strategy I use that you can consider implementing at your firm, too: Social media is the greatest means ever invented to have meaningful conversations at scale, and your rainmakers should maximize the time they spend having meaningful conversations.
What does this mean?
It means that, due to the asynchronous nature of social media, they can batch their communications together when it’s convenient for them. In addition, because the vast majority of social media communications are in the public eye, those not directly involved in the conversation can observe what’s happening.
Here’s how that breaks down by priority:
• Acknowledge those that have mentioned your rainmakers or shared something of theirs.
• Share the content they’ve written in the first 20-minute Personal Branding Power Hour session.
• Help other people look good using their social media channels.
Here are the individual priorities in more detail:
Priority 1: Acknowledge. Depending on how active your rainmakers are on social media, this could be very quick or rather involved. If they’ve just started with the Personal Branding Power Hour, it’s possible that they have no mentions. Don’t fret, though. As they step up priorities #2 and #3, they’ll have more and more people acknowledging them. Why? When people use their social media platforms to say something nice about your rainmakers or share something of theirs, it’s really good etiquette to thank them.
The most popular post I’ve ever written on LinkedIn has been shared 116 times by people with whom I’m connected, and over 800 times by people I don’t know. For those I know, and therefore could see the share, I individually thanked every single person. Why wouldn’t I? They’re helping tell their connections about something I created. Speaking of what your rainmakers create:
Priority 2: Share What They Have Created. In the first 20-minute session, your rainmakers enter rarified air. They become part of the 1% of people online who actually create content. By becoming part of this 1%, they, by default, become a voice of their industry. Have you ever been asked the question, “What am I supposed to share on social media?” Here’s a great answer: “Share the stuff you’ve actually created.” See why the first 20-minute increment of the Personal Branding Power Hour is so important?
Priority 3: Help Other People Look Good. Why should your rainmakers spend time doing this? Because social media is the best means ever invented to say nice things about other people in public. When they spend their time helping other people look good, those people will grow to appreciate your rainmakers more than they would ever have expected. It also makes your rainmakers feel good themselves. Why? It requires adopting a grateful mindset to do it.
Trust me on this one. Your rainmakers will never regret spending the latter part of this 20-minute increment on gratitude. Their social network will start to associate them as purveyors of good news, and those posts will garner much, much more engagement (likes, comments, shares) than the vast majority of other posts.
Third 20 minutes: Learn By Doing Research Based on Interactions with Clients
How much time does the average person spend learning more about his or her job? A recent Pew Research poll found that over half of Americans read less than five books per year. How valuable will your rainmakers become if they simply spend 20 minutes each day reading?
What kind of books should they read? Here’s the key component to this idea: Have your rainmakers ask their clients what books they are reading, and start with those. This works great for two reasons:
The concepts they’ll learn and the verbiage they’ll start using will match that of their clients. The next time someone talks about his or her Hedgehog Concept, they’ll both understand what they’re saying, and be able to contribute to the conversation.
After a client gives you a book recommendation, he or she will love to hear that your rainmakers actually read it. Why? People love giving advice, but people really love when others actually ACT on their advice. Tomorrow, then — when your rainmakers spend the first 20-minute increment of your Personal Branding Power Hour writing — they’ll have a larger base of knowledge from which to draw.
Just imagine if your rainmakers begin spending one hour per day — five total hours per week — working on their personal brands through using social media. After spending almost two years of personal trial and error, I’m sharing with you the easiest, most logical way I’ve found to spend valuable time on these highly strategic activities.
Spencer X. Smith is the founder of Spencer X. Smith Consulting. He is also an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and a faculty member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Business School for Lawyers. He may be reached at spencerXsmith.com.
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