Building a presence for international firms

Text and image based graphic in red and blue with text reading: "The vast majority of the success in expanding your network or your profile has little to do with your legal capability." Images are Julia Hepner headshot and MD Comms logo

Partner and Head of Growth Julia Hepner explains how international firms looking to attract instructions from UK / US firms with a London presence can promote and grow their profile.

I work with international firms helping them to build both their profile and network in the UK to lead to growth and success on an international platform. But how easy is it to do it?

Firms can employ a variety of the techniques set out below to raise their profile and put them front of mind with potential clients and referrers. However, in our experience, lawyers are so busy lawyering that this type of time-consuming exercise falls down the list of priorities, leaving a rich source of work untapped. 

Go digital

LinkedIn has quickly developed to become the go-to online platform for business networking. It allows a global reach to a wider audience with no marketing spend at all, other than time to use it and upskilling; it has transformed how professionals can get their message across to potential clients. 

Digital marketing can include anything from a strong social media presence through to running ads, joining and participating in online networks, optimising your website, or engaging in content marketing. 

Channels like podcasts and webinars have made it easier for partners to engage with global audiences; not only that, but these also allow your brand and personal style to shine through.

Branding strategy

Another area of focus for developing a presence that reaches across borders is developing a branding strategy.

Consider how you are perceived through your online brand messaging; your website, your social media channels, your content in other areas. Do your purpose, culture and values clearly stand out, and do they follow through consistently in your messaging so that potential clients are able to see your firm’s personality and why you are distinctive in the market?

If you haven’t got clear purpose and messaging, you are at a disadvantage because your competitors certainly do. You may find yourself overtaken by more aggressive practices that have been smart enough to identify and build a strong and focused branding strategy. Branding is key to every business; it is a simple and cost-effective way to start getting ahead.

Content, content, content

The point that content is the root of all ventures remains true. And the great part is, firms now have even more opportunities to share it to information-hungry prospects, who have even more ways to absorb it and engage with you.

White papers and blogs, opinion pieces and articles placed in industry publications can still be a cost-effective method of showcasing expertise to a broad and international audience. To obtain best value from these often time-consuming activities, make sure that content is  repurposed and amplified through your digital channels. Create a conversation on LinkedIn using a thought leadership piece to generate discussion. Develop a podcast for your firm where you can explore new and creative ways to host fascinating conversations, highlighting your expertise and brand.

Professional services firms sit on a gold mine of facts, opinions, innovations, and ideas. Exploring and amplifying these make clients feel you’re really adding value to the service they get, and it’s a tremendous way to start building a specialist reputation overseas, as well as domestically.

Awards and submissions

Rankings and accolades from the leading publications all contribute to creating a profile. Don’t dismiss these as industry-only reputation builders because they can have a very positive impact beyond the legal and accountancy sector too.

International prospects less familiar with the competitive landscape in your jurisdictions will frequently consult these as global industry standards for comparative analysis. 

Not only will your firm name appear as an award winner or ranked firm alongside other exceptional practices, but the marketing benefit from being able to quote wins and rankings on your website is huge.

Audits and Mapping

Mapping where you are enables you to more readily spot the gaps and be able to have a more strategic approach of getting where you want to be. 

Perception audits work to see how the market views you and whether that view looking in is what you want it to be; if not, you have a chance to change it using a combination of approaches. 

Stakeholder mapping forces identification of gaps in your network, which then allows you to work out who you need to meet. 

How you meet who you need to can be delivered by event mapping, getting you in front of the right people to expand your network in the most effective way. Do some research to identify suitable events for your lawyers and BD team to attend, create an events calendar and consider holding your own as well, if budget allows. Think beyond standard industry events – these are worthwhile, but charity events, award ceremonies (can you sponsor an element of the ceremony?), and sporting events also offer great opportunities. 

Power of People

Notwithstanding all of the above, my core belief is that you are your own superpower. 

The vast majority of the success in expanding your network or your profile has little to do with your legal capability. Instead, how you engage with others and what your unique set of qualities are, which of course, is how people put your face to your name – your personal brand. It is only when they don’t have that, that people think of your practice area. 

You are your own living advert of your values and approach; if potential sources of instruction or referral are aligned to your values and approach, they are most likely to like you and take an interest in you. Then, when they need the kind of help you can offer, you will spring to their mind. Growing your network with like-minded people may not gain the quickest results, but is the most effective and reliable way to win business. 

Come and chat

If you would like to talk about how MD Communications can help you to raise your international profile, please get in touch.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective networking event, consider our upcoming Legal 5k on 25 April, a fun and inclusive race for the legal sector which currently stands at 600+ sign-ups. 

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