When I found out I won the 2015 Legal Marketing Association Rising Star Award, and I was going to the LMA Annual Conference in San Diego, I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea how to manage the jam-packed agenda so that my firm would know that sending me to the conference was worth the cost of the flight. Thankfully, the conference organizers must have been reading my mind because they created a mentorship program this year dedicated to helping first timers like me.
My mentor, Karie Trujillo, marketing and client relations director for Markowitz Herbold PC, was my first point of contact at the conference. We met before the First Timers Reception where she welcomed me and offered all her best tips for making the most of the conference. She shared her opinions on the programming, gave me advice on which programs seemed best for small firms and made me feel like I had a friend among the 1,300 conference attendees.
During the programs, I learned a treasure trove of new techniques and strategies for helping my attorneys become more engaged in business development and marketing. I learned the ABCs of business development and how to communicate better with my attorneys. I discovered how to help my lawyers develop an ownership culture and how to engage my attorneys in sales techniques that have worked for other professional services industries. I learned there were 15 people who could truly make or break their year, how to implement a successful business development coaching program and that my firm should be reaching out to our alumni differently. Moreover, I learned that in my own professional development, I need to be proactive, resilient and believe that I can make a change to be an effective leader at my firm.
However, of all the education I gained at the conference, the best thing I learned was to take my own advice. This happens to be the same advice we all have consistently badgered our attorneys to use when attending conferences, which is to engage with other conference attendees. It would have been easy for me to find a corner on the lawn at the LexisNexis Bayfront Bash and stuff my face with sliders all night, but I did not do that. As a result, I had a lot of more fun and met a lot of new friends, colleagues and potential partners. At that event alone, I had the rare opportunity to network and learn from the most experienced legal marketers in the world on a lawn, next to the San Diego Bay while sipping wine. Does it really get any better than that?
Though, the one takeaway from the conference that made the whole trip worthwhile was the network of new friends I made. The legal marketing profession is filled with truly genuine, authentic and giving people. Each of them all started somewhere. Everyone I met was welcoming to the profession, eager to help each other and open to sharing their experiences. Thus, I know the next time I feel overwhelmed by a new marketing challenge, I have a whole network of people I can turn to. When you are the only marketer at your firm, like me, that alone is worth its weight in gold.
Jessica Dobias is marketing manager at Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP in Austin, Texas.