First-timers Guide to the LMA Annual Conference Day 1 - Pre-Conference and Networking
Members of the National Law Review have attended the LMA Annual Conference in the past. However, as my name badge suggested, this was the first time I had the pleasure of joining some of the finest people in the legal marketing industry. The conference was held this Monday April 13th to Wednesday April 15th at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and featured three jam-packed days of quality programming and networking opportunities. People who wanted a little bit extra out of the conference could opt-in to attending one of six pre-conference workshops offered on Monday. As a newbie, I did not’t want to miss out on the opportunity for additional training, because, hey, might as well do it all!
The Conference before the Conference
The tracks ran from 8:45am to 5pm and appealed to many different professionals within a marketing department, but I attended the “Breakthroughs in PR, Content and Communications” session. A neatly bound book of materials was presented to me at registration that contained all of the the materials for my particular track. This program was a great fit for me because it closely aligns with what we here at NLR strive to achieve: to provide our clients with the means to enhance the visibility of their firms.
The sessions fell into two categories for me : 1) ways technology can enhance your legal marketing strategy, and 2) ways to present the firm in a light that will be compelling to the media. Among the sessions were discussions of social media and digital trends, ways to control and enhance your online presence, and a panel featuring members of the media discussing their perspectives on the future of media coverage of the law (a panel that I will write more depth about in a later article).
What I found to be the most valuable for myself personally was the “Power Writing” session led by Amy Spach, Editor and Copywriter at Perkins Coie and, John Byrne, President of Glencoe Media Group. At one point during this session, we were asked to consider what type of writer we are. I quickly realized that I was one of the very few in the room that is a very slow and deliberate writer. This lightning fast session provided me with some great tips that boosted my confidence in being able to write more efficiently. I only wish the session had been two hours long, but perhaps at that point it would have crossed the line from “helpful refresher tips and new tidbits” to being too elementary for the many former journalists in attendance.
Connecting with Fellow Legal Marketing Professionals
Following a long day of sitting quietly and learning, it was time to get out there and network! I was pleased with the way LMA provided many opportunities for people to connect. I myself enjoyed meeting many new people at our LMA Midwest Meetup at the Pool Club, before heading over to the First-Timer’s Reception --organized by LMA International--and then finally making my way over to the exhibit hall for its opening reception.
The exhibit hall featured over 100 vendors of legal marketing services, so an attendee would have no problem finding someone to help them solve a particular need at their firm. For the duration of the conference, a “Networking for Prizes” contest ran with the help of the handy LMA International Mobile app. This was a game that was designed to encourage people to visit as many booths as possible, thereby giving vendors an extra boost in their exposure.
I met many wonderful people, but I spent the most time with our friends at the Jaffe booth. Yes, they had a contest, and yes, I did eventually win a prize from them. However, it was just such a pleasure to meet many members of their staff in person and to get to know them as people and professionals. Visiting exhibitors--and to the extent possible spending time talking to them--was valuable in gauging whether or not I would enjoy working with them as a vendor, should the need for their services arise.
As a first-time attendee, I am glad I joined the pre-conference and made use of all the built-in networking opportunities the LMA had to offer. The programming was outstanding and the plethora of different tracks available provided fantastic choices for legal marketing professionals at all levels and in all positions. The networking opportunities the LMA devised were great for encouraging people, especially first-timers, to get themselves out there and speak to their peers. And the networking events were not limited to just the first day; there were many other opportunities in the second and third days of the conference, which I will recap in my next post.
 The other sessions available were as follows: "QuickStart - Legal Marketing Competencies", "Impact Marketing for Small and Mid-sized Law firms", "CMO Summit", "Legal Lean Sigma and Project Management White Belt Certification Course", and "Leadership in Innovation - Preparing for the Next Decade of Opportunity".