By Poston Communications
Over the course of this year's events, the venues and tools for connection may have changed, but the physiological drive to develop and maintain relationships has not diminished — and perhaps has even grown. And just like at an in-person event, the level of satisfaction experienced by attendees often directly correlates to their time and energy invested in attending sessions, networking, asking questions, sharing experiences and connecting one-on-one.
With that in mind, here's what made the Legal Marketing Association 2020 Annual Conference (#LMA20) a success from an engagement perspective.
How to #LMACitizen
A keynote speaker opening the annual conference was traditional, yet Baratunde Thurston's message to attendees was anything but. As a comedian, writer and activist with a podcast called "How to Citizen with Baratunde," his challenge to LMA was to examine and reimagine the word “citizen” as a verb to create a more connected community whose members take responsibility for improving it — a concept that attendees quickly embraced.
"The keynote speaker was really exciting," said Gia Altreche, director of business development and marketing at Newmeyer Dillion and co-chair of the LMA Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee and Shared Interest Group (SIG). She noted that "moving conversation into action" is the D&I committee's mission statement and credits the conference committee with selecting Thurston.
Altreche continued, "To quote Baratunde, ‘We don't arrive, we pursue.’ We can and must meet the challenges discussed during the keynote address and the [diversity, equity and inclusion] programming throughout the week. I will continue to advocate for these efforts and encourage every person across the organization to do the same, whether it's internally at your firm or externally in your community."
It's also essential to give grace, as answers to difficult questions don't always come easy. "It's OK to say, ‘I don't know.’ What's important is that we come together as an organization. We had so many great tools shared at this conference to help us do that," said Altreche.
For those still neutral or even apprehensive about having these conversations, Altreche encourages self-reflection and empathy by taking a metaphorical walk in someone else's shoes, starting with listening to the experience that others share, even and especially if it is not your own.
Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
"Culture is not just a buzzword, and identifying it is similar to the duck analogy that we often use — if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's probably a duck,” said Erin Ryan, senior manager of business development at McGuireWoods and a #LMA20 speaker. “In other words, you know a positive culture when you experience it. If we're lucky, which I think we are as LMA members, we identify our culture positively and use words to describe it such as supportive, honest and adaptable."
Ryan continued, "As I shared in my presentation, culture is not only comprised of one or two factors — it's defined by a combination of shared behaviors, values, language and norms that make up the secret sauce, which can be envied by other organizations but not easily duplicated."
Attendees had the opportunity to participate in one-on-one networking sessions where they were paired at random with another attendee for a four-minute chat on camera. Not many organizations would see such a level of engagement with unknowns, such as ‘What if we don't have anything to talk about — won't that be awkward?’, yet attendees took full advantage. Judging by the hours spent in these sessions, one-on-one networking was one of the most popular features of the conference.
Engagement proved to be the defining factor and key to the success of LMA20. From the chat boxes to one-on-one sessions, breakouts to roundtables, main stage to LMA's Got Skills, the legal marketing community showed up and showed off the best part of LMA — the people.
As we close out or celebration of Global Diversity Awareness Month, be sure to visit the newly-launched D&I Resource Center. Also, check out Altreche's just-released conversation with Dr. Laura Quiros, a trauma-informed DEI consultant at Coston Consulting on the LMA Podcast page. To learn more about law firm culture, view the recent webinar recording of "Managing Firm Culture in Times of Change," hosted by the LMA CMO SIG.