Most lawyers already know how important it is to project a professional image – it’s one of the few remaining professions where wearing a suit and tie is often required. But what about an attorney’s online reputation? There’s no one size fits all “dress code” for your Internet presence, so it’s up to you to develop it, and once your online identity is established you also need to take steps to protect it. Here are some tips to get you started with building, managing, and defending your online reputation..
.1. Put yourself out there.
You want people to find you, right? Make sure you’re listed in all of the places your potential clients may look for you online – from Google Maps to websites with attorney directories like Rocket Lawyer. Make sure you update your profiles regularly, and include a photo – it provides a personal touch that clients can identify with, and helps you stand out from the other profiles. Read more about online profiles on our previous post, Your Super Suit – Tips for Optimizing Your Online Profile.
2. Be vigilant and monitor your reputation.
The Internet is a big place, so how do you find out what people are saying about you? One way to monitor your reputation is to subscribe to Google Alerts. Simply enter your name as the “search term” and you’ll get an email whenever someone mentions you. While monitoring your name is the obvious choice, you can also monitor the name of your law firm, partners, and even your competitors so you know what you’re up against. You can also monitor Twitter with tools like Tweetbeep, for example.
3. Use your powers of persuasion to combat negative reviews.
Almost everyone gets bad reviews sometimes, but you don’t have to let them ruin you. In so adversarial an industry as law, dissatisfied clients are common (and it’s not always the attorney’s fault.) But things have changed. Now, annoyed clients have a very public (and potentially anonymous) way to vent by posting their rants on sites like complaints.com. It’s a tricky situation, especially if you feel like you’re being unfairly represented. So what do you do? You could try to get the site to remove the review, but most have policies against this unless the review is inappropriate. You could sue them, but that’s probably more work than it’s worth.
Generally, best practice is to respond to the complaint on the site where it was posted. By responding courteously to negative comments you indicate to potential clients that you do care about your clients and the quality of your services. You can always just tell the person to contact you directly so you can resolve the dispute. Another idea is to ask your satisfied clients to post positive reviews or respond to negative reviews for you. Whatever your approach, make sure that you have a plan. Some states have restrictions about attorneys and reviews, so make sure you’re not breaking any laws before diving in.
4. Overwhelm the bad with the good.
Lawyers who blog, use social media, and engage online are in the best position to manage their online reputations. Each successful entry you write for your own blog or contribute to another can take up a position in the search results that might otherwise hold a negative review. Make your online presence a positive expression of your personality and expertise. The best way to counter potentially negative reviews is with lots of good content.