Why Your Story Matters and How to Tell It
Social media and the internet at large can seem strange.
How much can you share while establishing boundaries? How much do people want to know about you? Is this just an exercise in narcissism?
It’s easy to get carried away with social media, but intentional use of these platforms is meant to drive connection, not spam the masses and turn them off from your brand.
I like to look at social media as one big blank page that is waiting for your story.
You might not think of yourself as a writer, a poet, or artistic in any sense. But you do have a story. You have pain and triumph and life lessons locked inside of you. And social media is an opportunity to translate those stories and connect with others.
Your clients and future clients might not know it, but they want to know you. Not the stale, obligatory joke and the half smile. Not the suit and the hard facts about their case. They want to know you. They want to know what it took to get you here. Why you are here. Why they should entrust you with one of the hardest things they will ever go through — whether that be divorce, an injury, getting rid of their debt, facing a criminal charge, or something of the like.
Your story matters because your clients need to put their trust in you. And trust comes from vulnerability.
That’s why FirmFlex encourages you to put yourself out there on social media. Let your audience see that you’re a badass. That you put 110% into your cases. That you don’t walk away. And, show them that you’re human. You go through the same pain and joy that they do.
Show them all of this, and you can bring a glimmer of hope to whatever it is that they’re going through.
But how do you do it? How do you walk that line between vulnerable and alarming, fun and disingenuous? Some people definitely go overboard. They talk too much about themselves. Their content is ego-driven. So how do you share bits and pieces of your life, while still captivating your audience and giving them information that they actually want? Here are some tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Free Write
Did that suggestion just take you back to a sophomore English classroom or a therapist’s couch? Yeah, I’m also picturing a dimly lit room flickering with candlelight and a guru who’s encouraging you to, “let go and find yourself, man”.
But look, it doesn’t have to be that touchy-feely. I like free writing because it gives you permission to just start. And let’s face it, sometimes that’s the hardest part. “I’m not a good writer.” “I don’t know what to say.” “Let me do a little research first.” “Come on, I don’t have time for this. I should be working on my caseload.” There are a million excuses. But free writing is an easy goal. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and just start going. No one ever has to see it. This is something to help you figure out what you want to say. Free write about:
- What it was like to go through law school.
- What it felt like when you found out you passed the bar.
- The scariest thing that’s ever happened in your career.
- Why you do what you do.
- Why you love your job, or why you hate it.
- What you wish your clients knew about you.
- The biggest sacrifice you made for your career.
- The most important thing you’ve learned since starting your career.
Take a few minutes and really explore one of these ideas. Then do it again the next day. And the next. And the next. What you’ll find is that there are a few stories and lessons that you keep coming back to. You’ll start to tell those stories better. You’ll notice sentences or paragraphs that resonate with you. That’s how you find both what to share on social media, and how to say it. Repeat this process for as long as it’s useful.
Tip #2: Read a Lot
In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King writes:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
You’re used to writing for your job, but that’s a technical kind of writing. Writing for the web is different. And while you might not aspire to be a writer, or define yourself as one, you will be doing a lot of writing if you want to leverage social media. You’ll be writing blog posts, answering questions, and crafting captions to your posts, just to name a few.
To learn how to write for the web, start by reading the web.
Identify some people who you enjoy following on social media. Start analyzing their posts and consider why you like them so much. What are they doing well? This will give you best practices to emulate.
Find some long form content to read in online magazines or publications. Inc., and Medium are two of my favorite places to start. You’ll notice some trends for this content (which I tend to emulate in blogs such as this): short sentences, short paragraphs, lists, clear headings, catchy title, etc.
Tip #3: Write a Lot
Stephen King’s second axiom applies as well.
I know what you’re thinking: I already write. A lot.
That’s true. You probably write more than you ever wanted to. Unfortunately, writing as a lawyer and writing for the internet are two completely different things, and it might take time to find your voice for social media. I’ve worked with enough lawyers to know that this is oftentimes the case.
Sometimes it’s difficult for lawyers to realize that they are not writing something for a judge, a colleague, or a client. And even if they realize it, actually capturing a more captivating and simple tone is hard work. It takes time to edit yourself to the point where you can talk about the law in an accessible way.
It takes practice, assistance, and analysis. The more you post on social media, the more opportunities you give yourself to work on this skill.
People crave a well told story. Your audience will love learning more about you and your journey, especially if you have a clear and strong voice.
But, don’t oversaturate your social media accounts with me, me, me. The next step is asking your audience about them. Encourage them to share their story. It’s a two way street!
When you sprinkle some personal anecdotes into a robust social media presence, your audience will look forward to these glimpses into your life, and the opportunity to talk about themselves as well. Utilizing these personal posts a few times a week is a great supplement to your account, a way to humanize your law firm and make people want to work with you.
My Challenge to You
When I was 15, I read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Since then, I have thought about this quote from Rilke every single day:
“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”
That quote challenged me to see the mundane moments in my life as extraordinary. It challenged me to capture and share those moments. And it made me believe that everyone is capable of doing this.
Writing is the way that I express myself, and the internet gives me the opportunity to do that every day. It gives me an audience, a platform. And it can do the same for you and your business.
Whatever way you express yourself — through writing, film, photography, music — social media is a way that you can put yourself out there.
And if you get stuck, I am here to help.
I challenge you to call forth the riches of your life.
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