Expand Your Mind: Go to Mainstream Conferences

By | May.17.16 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Managing, Skills

Nothing But the Ruth

If you are a solo practitioner, of counsel, or a partner at a law firm, you have at least two roles: attorney and entrepreneur. Your time and energy are split between performing client work and making sure new business is coming in the door.

One way attorneys educate themselves about effective business and marketing practices is by attending CLEs. But knowing how important it is to market yourself to your prospective audience, why limit yourself to only legal industry programs?

Try on a Fresh Perspective

You can supplement your CLEs by attending non-legal mainstream business and marketing events for entrepreneurs. They will expose you to new ideas, people and perspectives. It’s an especially good idea given that the legal profession tends to lag behind the times when it comes to things like web-based tactics.

I love attending mainstream events and probably attend as many non-legal online and in-person business and marketing events as I do CLEs. I always come away with tips and suggestions to help me run my practice more effectively and inspiration from other industries. Often these are tips that I’ve never heard at legal events.

Of course, as an attorney, I have to verify that the suggestions I want to try comport with my state’s rules of professional responsibility.

Over the next few months, I’m attending two conferences: BlogPaws in Phoenix (a conference for people who blog about pets) and Content Marketing World in Cleveland (a business marketing conference). Both events will provide valuable opportunities to develop my skills. Did I mention I get to bring my dog to BlogPaws?

Here are some of the sessions I’m most excited to attend so I can apply the ideas to my law practice:

At BlogPaws

  • Reputation Management
  • How to Establish Yourself as an Expert and Create Viral Content
  • What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Say about Your Professional Brand?
  • How to Get Off the Blogging Hamster Wheel, Attract an Audience, and Still Have Time to Enjoy Life

At Content Marketing World

  • What to Do When You’ve Written All the “Helpful” Content
  • How to Manage Content Effectively in a Complex Organization
  • How Brilliant Brands Create Less Content and Deliver Bigger Success
  • 50 Essential Content Marketing Hacks
  • How to Get Way More Traffic from Your Existing Content
  • How to Use Improv Techniques to Improve Your Storytelling

How to Find Useful Events

If you need help finding mainstream conferences to attend, ask other entrepreneurs in your city what events they attend. Research your favorite business book authors and see where they are scheduled to speak. Some of the mainstream speakers that have been most helpful to me include Jay Baer, Rand Fishkin, Rae Hoffman, Tim Riesterer, Robert Rose, Peter Shankman, Pamela Slim, Evo Terra and Gary Vaynerchuk.

When researching possible webinars and conferences to attend, consider local, national and online events to build up your business acumen and marketing skills. There are a lot of events to consider, no matter what your time and budget constraints might be.

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. She is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing her practice on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” In “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her practice. She blogs at UndeniableRuth.com. Follow her on Twitter @rbcarter.

Ruth Carter will be speaking at BlogPaws and Content Marketing World, where she’ll be answering content legal questions.

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2 Responses to “Expand Your Mind: Go to Mainstream Conferences”

  1. Mike O'Horo
    17 May 2016 at 10:03 am #

    I agree with the author’s core premise of learning from industries other than law, but with respect, I’ll disagree with her advice on how to accomplish that. Conferences are the wrong way to get educated. They’re time-consuming and expensive relative to the value of the information. Do you really think a conference speaker will impart unique or transformative information in 45 minutes, that isn’t available otherwise?

    If you Google any of the topics listed, you can develop a pretty comprehensive understanding about it in a couple of hours, tops. Subscribe to those info sources and you’ll continue to get more informed in just a few minutes every day.

    In the Internet Age, education is free. Lofty schools like MIT have made their entire curricula available online for free. “Content marketing” has resulted in experts of every kind competing to see who can offer the most free information of any imaginable type. Why would you waste 2-3 days and thousands of dollars to get it?

    A much better investment of conference time and money is attending the conferences for the industry where you get most of your business (or aspire to). Your purpose there is to hunt for prospects who acknowledge having the problem that your service solves, and arrange to speak with them about that problem after the conference.

  2. Ruth Carter
    17 May 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Hey Mike – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree conferences aren’t always the way to go, depending on your needs. If you’re looking for high level ideas, conferences and books are a great way to explore new ideas. But there are reasons to get face time with presenters or connect with other practitioners in real time, in the same room. For people who don’t have the bandwidth to attend a conference, there may be local events that are free or take up minimal time/money to expand your knowledge base in a way that you can’t get from reading a book or surfing the web.