Law firms, lawyers, legal industry professionals and vendors spend large sums of money to attend international law conferences as a means by which to network among peers, potential referral sources and clients.
International law conferences in particular provide lawyers with an opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the world. But international conferences – come at a steep price. Apart from billable hours lost, lawyers also incur significant expense for air and ground travel – as well as hotel stays and other costs associated with long distance travel to often expensive venues. And vendors to the profession spend even more for the opportunity to meet and mingle with assembled guests.
The internet has changed how international lawyers network
But something’s changed since the internet has arrived: The ability for one-one-one or group networking online has broken down barriers to networking via the internet. Hence, international lawyers are now able to join LinkedIn and create virtual referral networks. Legal vendors can do the same. There are all sorts of places on the internet lawyers can meet with one another – from Twitter to Google Plus to even Facebook – which many lawyers use to create virtual online referral networks.
Law conferences aren’t just for in-person networking
So what is the value of international legal conferences? Most importantly, it’s the opportunity to meet with colleagues in person. This opportunity is no doubt a special one. However, that is by no means the only opportunity a conference provides a lawyer with. Most important legal conferences are now “broadcast” live on Twitter, covered by law industry vendors who interview participants for distribution across branded social media platforms during and after the event. Most conferences have active staff well-trained in social media engagement who cover an event, publishing pictures, interviews, updates and more about the conference – and importantly, the attendees.
Without a strong social media plan, your conference organizers are behind the times
If an international conference organizer doesn’t have a strong social media plan – lawyers, legal vendors and legal services professionals ought not to attend that particular conference – as the cost will outweigh the benefits. Sure, some referrals may result. But there are other international conferences that will provide both referrals as well as social media engagement – to ensure your audience isn’t just those in attendance – but rather the much wider legal world beyond the conference – that is watching eagerly on Twitter and elsewhere for live updates on the conference. This coverage provides tangible, valuable, important coverage that may make your long-distance trip worthwhile. Without it – you’re wasting your time and money. Sure you might hit the jackpot with a lucrative referral – but is it worth it if you don’t? Probably not.
Ask before you attend
Next time you’re planning to attend an international legal conference for networking opportunities – first ask your conference organizer if they’ll be live broadcasting the event proceedings, interviewing attendees, live-tweeting the event, posting pictures, biographies, agendas, and other relevant conference info – to make sure you and your law firm or legal services sector company – are receiving the full benefit that any lawyer or law firm or organization should now expect as a fundamental service any conference must provide. If they say no they don’t – wait for the next conference that does – stay at home, log-in to LinkedIn or Twitter – and network virtually. My guess is you’ll save much time, money – and increase your chances of multiple referrals – at a fraction of the cost and time of a conference without an excellent social media plan.