Getting known in your community

Getting known in your community
Kevin Cheung
For those starting their own practice or moving to a new community, it may seem a daunting task to get established. But getting known is not difficult. It just requires effort. Here are some ways to do so.

Get involved with boards

While being a director can create a conflict vis-a-vis that organization, there are undeniable collateral benefits of being on a board. If you serve well, your positive reputation will spread through the community and its contacts. Accordingly, you should not be involved if you are not keen on its objectives. You will do uninspired work and cause yourself reputational damage.

If serving as a director is too time consuming, consider being an adviser to the board. This will help you in being known as a legal professional.

Unless you plan on leading the organization, it is a good idea to limit your participation to one or two terms. Rotating your involvement with different boards allows you to expand your network.

Participate in community events

There are many opportunities to participate in community events, from golf tournaments to races to scavenger hunts to name a few. There are also countless fundraisers and silent auctions to which you can donate items and gift certificates for services.

While sponsoring an event is good, consider actually participating in it. This gives you the chance to build relationships with other participants.

In Sarnia, Ont., the lawyers have a tradition of staging a play every few years. The proceeds are donated to various charities. While the endeavour benefits the community, it is also an opportunity for participants to get to know each other on a personal level. We should not forget that lawyers are a referral source for other lawyers. Thus, the more you are known, the more likely colleagues will be to refer clients to you.

Become known as an expert

Thanks to the Internet, opportunities to be published have exploded in recent years. Both public and professional communities have increased avenues for content. They now include printed materials and online content. Additionally, you can self-publish by starting your own blog, which can be linked to your web site and social media.   

You can also do presentations for the profession and the public. Every community has many non-profit organizations (public library, church, senior, and employee organizations) that would be happy to hold an event for you. The bonus is that they will take care of organizing the event, including advertising.

Such contributions will develop your reputation as a knowledgeable professional in the community.

Newsletter

Most of us are so inundated with e-mails that many are not even read. In this new era, snail mail can stand out.

Our firm likes to send Thank You and Christmas cards to other professionals, clients, and individuals who have helped us throughout the year. Along with these cards, this is a great time to enclose a newsletter, highlighting the accomplishments and community involvement of members of the firm.

A newsletter can be easily prepared in-house. Those with pictures stand a better chance of being read as it is hard for the eyes to resist images.  

Involvement in community-oriented activities allows people to get to know you as a person and as a lawyer. Relationships are important for referrals. In difficult times, remember it is easier for people to turn to those they know and trust.

Kevin Cheung is a lawyer at Fleck Law in Sarnia, practicing in personal injury and estates litigation. This article was written in collaboration with Pascale Daigneault.

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