Volunteering, whether it’s with a legal organization, a business organization, or a philanthropic organization, is a way to not only find fulfillment but market yourself and your services. Find a cause you’re passionate about or interested in from a business standpoint and get involved. Make sure that it’s enjoyable and you’re committed to it. If you get in there and do good work, the organization’s membership will start to feel comfortable with you, and maybe sometime down the line they’ll need your services and give you a call. Hopefully, you’ll find something that provides both personal satisfaction and, eventually, many potential clients.
Tip: Don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick one or two organizations that you want to commit to so you can really make a difference.
As important as it is to identify a cause that you’re passionate about, it’s equally vital to choose an organization full of good prospects. You don’t want to create the impression that you’re only volunteering in order to sell yourself and your services, but the fact is every single person whom you come into contact with is an opportunity to communicate how you can bring value to them. So when you’re selecting an organization with which to become involved, consider what you want to gain from the experience. If part of your goal is public relations, then you need to select an organization that gives you access to prospects. For example, if an organization has a lot of great targets on the board of directors, but you’re not on the board and don’t have access to them, volunteering there won’t do much good for your marketing efforts.
One way to make sure that you’ll meet a lot of good prospects at the organization where you volunteer is to serve on the best committee for meeting lots of new people: the membership committee. Organizations grow by reaching out through existing members. If you’re on the membership committee, you now have access to all of the organization’s members. You’ll be able to meet and develop relationships with them while also helping them identify people you should be calling to promote membership in the organization. You could even offer to go out and meet with those people to get them involved in the organization.
Be an ambassador. Help the organization identify the target market for not only its membership but your own client and referral-source base. For example, if you are active in an organization that doesn’t have an in-house counsel section, you could offer to create one and then reach out to in-house counsels to introduce them to the organization and, at the same time, yourself.
Tip: Market the volunteerism in your law firm by adding a section to your website that promotes the organizations that you are involved in. This kind of feel-good promotion makes visitors to your site feel comfortable with the firm.
To quote Tom Lehrer, there’s nothing wrong with “doing well by doing good.” If you can get involved with an organization that does work you believe in while achieving your public relations goals, it’s the best of both worlds.
For more tips, check out our marketing seminar “Benefitting from Public Relations.”