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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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Failing to plan is planning to fail

by Joe Kaczrowski | Jun 25, 2015

The capstone event to the MSBA Annual Convention and the June Assembly meeting mark the end of the Association's fiscal year. For the past several months the Association has been planning for FY16 and beyond. Whether you go by a fiscal or calendar year, how far ahead do you plan? 1 year? Two? Five?

The MSBA's Marketing Cohort provides a collaborative environment for members to develop a marketing plan for the coming year. Last year HCBA had a half-day seminar to help members develop a strategic plan. If these guided do-it-yourself opportunities aren't your cup of tea, there are a number of consultants out there who will help you for a price.

Whether it's marketing, web design, SEO, or something else, before you pluck down your hard-earned money, consider first picking the low-hanging fruit yourself. Not only does this approach prevent you from overpaying for simple tasks, but it also allows you to get more bang for your buck by focusing your consultant(s) on more complicated or technical tasks.

Earlier this spring, a practiceblawg post identified 11 ways you can use your MSBA membership to expand your practice. A recent post suggested getting involved with your local bar association as a way to grow your business. The MSBA has a page devoted to opportunities for members to Get Involved and Volunteer.

As with most things in life, how you develop and implement your plan will likely be dictated by a cost-benefit analysis. With each task, you evaluate not only whether your time or your money is more valuable, but also will the benefit from the effort outweigh the expense.

Lawyers often say they don't have the time to be on social media, or perhaps they don't see the benefit. There are a number of articles out there on why lawyers should consider tweeting and blogging and other things, but how much time does it really take? Setting up an account is pretty easy. The North Dakota Bar Association has a nice guide walking you through the steps. Not too much of a time (or cash) expense there. 

With social media, you can ease yourself into it. Perhaps start out as a passive consumer, just reading tweets, then begin to retweet or favorite a few. Still not a big time commitment there. Next maybe add a few comments with the retweets, or post a web link with a comment. As you build up a stream of posts, it may be time to embed your feed on your website; luckily Twitter gives you the code, so it's a simple cut-and-paste sort of deal. 

Long term maybe you want to start or join conversations, or add original content (blog posts, articles, etc.) to your social media plan. Even if you don't get there for a while (or ever), you're still arguably active on Twitter with minimal cost. The question now becomes what's the benefit of your presence; why comment or retweet?

Social media can be used to establish your brand, inform your clients or reach potential clients. Retweeting posts you feel are relevant and of interest to your target audience can establish you as a valuable resource and drive traffic to your site. Don't reinvent the wheel. If someone else had some good insight or created a great reference, Twitter is a useful tool to pass that along to your audience (with the proper attribution).

As you plan for the next year (or five), look not only at what you are doing but also what you can or should be doing. With current tasks or expenses, can you identify a benefit? Does that benefit outweigh the cost? With new options, what are the costs (either in time or money) and what do you project for the benefits? With some future tasks, while it may be difficult to identify the likely outcome or benefit, the cost is so minimal that it is worth doing. In which case it becomes like the NBA (or any professional) draft: the risk/cost is worth the reward, and you pay for potential.

Not sure where to start? Consider spending five minutes to add or update your profile on MN Find a Lawyer. With over 8,000 searches each month, MN Find a Lawyer is a great way to reach more potential clients. And through July 31 updating your profile automatically enters you in a contest to win an iPad and other prizes.