Nothing But The Ruth!
The Undeniable Tour: Lessons from the Road
I did a speaking tour this spring that I called “The Undeniable Tour.” It involved a two-week road trip from San Diego to Seattle with five speaking engagements along the way at law schools and bar associations. The tour also provided the opportunity for one-on-one networking. I was able to keep my speaking fee low by obtaining four amazing sponsors to offset the costs. And I kept my expenses low by staying in hostels instead of hotels most nights.
Attorney at Work (one of my tour sponsors) asked me to recap my adventure and share some of the lessons I learned.
Why did you do this speaking tour? Over the past year, I realized that the majority of my social media marketing education comes from mainstream sources, and I get a lot of the same questions from lawyers and law students about how they can use social media to get a job or clients. There appears to be a significant gap in education in this area, so I thought a tour would be an effective way to reach a larger audience and keep costs down by doing multiple speaking engagements in the same trip. (Here I am in San Diego on day one with attorney blogger Jacob Sapochnick.)
How did you get sponsors? My friend Jason Zook has had multiple successful business ventures (including I Wear Your Shirt) based on obtaining sponsorships from companies. He shares his entrepreneurial story in “Creativity for Sale.” He also created an online course, How to Get Sponsorships for Anything, where he shares the tactics and templates he uses to get marketing clients and sponsorships for his various ventures. The course was a bit pricey, but I knew if I could get one sponsor, the course would pay for itself. I followed his process fairly closely and was able to get $4,000 in sponsors for the tour.
How was staying in hostels? It was awesome! I didn’t realize how prevalent hostels are in the U.S. I stayed in seven different hostels (Hollywood, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Point Reyes Station, Portland and Seattle) for a total of 12 nights. Each one was different and each one was wonderful. It’s a great way to travel if you don’t mind bunk beds and communal bathrooms. They were cheaper and more comfortable than most budget hotels I’ve stayed in, and there’s a strong sense of community because everyone’s a fellow traveler. Parking is often free or cheap and breakfast is usually included.
How much time and energy went into planning this tour? I worked on planning for over eight months. It could have been a full-time job. It took a lot of diligence and late nights to bring it all together. I started by coming up with the concept for the tour, and creating materials, and then I reached out to every school and bar association along the West Coast that might be interested in me. Once I started booking speaking engagements, I started soliciting sponsors.
Any client work on the road? Yes! Wi-Fi is everywhere! It was pretty easy to keep in touch with the office and clients from the road. The only barrier to doing more client work was the fact that I had so many other meetings and engagements.
What lessons do lawyers need to understand about social media? The biggest lesson is that social media is a communications tool — don’t treat it like an electronic billboard — and you should make it a priority to be active wherever you have profiles online. I am a huge advocate of blogging, but if you’re going to write blog posts, you have to make the commitment to write and post on a regular basis. And you have to create quality content that is geared toward providing value to your audience. Using social media is like any other type of networking — you have to show up and be active for it to lead to valuable connections. Whenever possible, bring your online connections into the real world with face-to-face meetings.
The other lesson is not to be afraid to use social media. It takes time to get used to it, just like any new technology. Make the commitment, educate yourself on how to use a particular platform, watch how others are using it effectively, and then jump in yourself. It’s okay just to “lurk” on a social media site for a few weeks to watch how people communicate and to determine if that might be a good site for you to connect with prospective clients.
Would you do it again? Yes and no. I loved doing a speaking tour. It was a wonderful change of pace from being in the office, but it was hard to be on the road for two weeks. I could see myself doing another tour, but perhaps on a smaller scale. I have a speaking engagement at Content Marketing World this fall in Cleveland. Perhaps I will reach out to organizations in the area to see if they would be interested in The Undeniable Tour.
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.