Many abilities are important to the success of an attorney’s thought leadership efforts. But the best ability an attorney can have regarding thought leadership is availability.

There’s a saying in sports that the best ability is availability.

The idea being that the most effective way for athletes to reach the highest levels of performance and help their teams win is to be in the game playing. The best athletes can’t help their teams win if they’re often injured or otherwise regularly unavailable to perform.

The same thing goes for attorneys when it comes to their thought leadership efforts: The best ability is availability. It is not the ability to create engaging content, leverage effective distribution channels, or build an audience.

When it comes to thought leadership, availability means consistently engaging in content creation, consistently attending industry events, consistently participating in online discussions, and generally understanding that successful thought leadership efforts are the ones designed to be executed over the long term, as opposed to a series of one-off actions.

There are four main reasons why availability is important for attorneys when it comes to thought leadership.

Availability leads to visibility

When you are consistently creating content, speaking at events, commenting on other people’s social media posts, and generally engaging in thought leadership efforts, you are staying in front of your target audience: clients and referral sources. You are making sure that people aren’t forgetting about you.

Successful marketing and business development depends on you staying top of mind for your target audience. If you rarely engage in the above efforts, you are allowing your peers and competitors who more frequently do so to have more opportunities to get in front of your target audience. That gives them the upper hand when past, current, and prospective clients and referral sources think about which attorneys they’re aware of they can turn to for assistance with a legal or business issue, or who they could refer a prospective client to.

Availability makes it easy to build relationships

In the context of thought leadership, availability helps you build relationships.

Consistently attending industry events and chatting with fellow attendees helps you build relationships. So does consistently making yourself available to engage on social media and for networking phone and video calls.

If you’re not available to do these activities, you’re not going to build relationships with new connections or nurture relationships with current ones.

You’re not going to give these people an opportunity to learn firsthand about who you are, the expertise you have, and the knowledge and wisdom you bring to your clients’ legal and business issues. Without doing so, you’re not going to plant the seeds necessary for these people to turn to you when they need someone with your skillset.

Availability allows you to capitalize on opportunities

When you make yourself available to capitalize on thought leadership opportunities, good things happen.

You can respond to emerging trends or legal developments that are important to your clients by creating content that will put you early on in the “news cycle” so that your clients and referral sources see that you have your fingers on the pulse of their industry or the area of law you practice.

Being available also allows you to capitalize on opportunities to speak with the media. If a reporter sees a blog post or an article you wrote, or a social media post you published, regarding a recent legal development or item in the news and wants to speak to you about your thoughts on that topic, you being available to conduct that interview allows you to take advantage of the opportunity and get quoted in a news article.

After you appear in that article, you may be seen by other media outlets (as well as members of your target audience) as a go-to expert for that topic, which may result in future media outlets reaching out to you to discuss timely topics.

Your availability to capitalize on opportunities might also benefit you by allowing you to fill in for someone speaking on a panel at an industry conference or on a webinar. By being able to hop in and participate on a moment’s notice, you get to demonstrate your expertise, knowledge, and wisdom to new audiences because you made yourself available.

Availability helps you build trust and credibility

Being available to regularly post on social media, publish articles, send email newsletters, publish podcast episodes, and engage in similar activities shows your target audience that you’re committed to your practice and you’re committed to educating them.

That builds trust with clients and referral sources. Consistently “showing up” when publishing thought leadership and engaging in other marketing and business development efforts gives clients and referral sources comfort that you will do the same should they hire you or refer clients your way.

This availability also helps differentiate yourself from your competitors and gives you a competitive edge. You are proactively showing that you are trustworthy and reliable because you are regularly sharing knowledge and wisdom.

If your competitors aren’t as available as you are when it comes to their thought leadership efforts, their prospective clients and referral sources won’t be able to gain a sense that they will be as trustworthy and reliable as you because they won’t have a similar track record to be judged on.

Being available is the best way to be

When it comes to attorneys’ thought leadership, their abilities to come up with interesting topics, create compelling content, and reach their intended audiences are important drivers of the success of those efforts.

But, as is the case with sports, attorneys’ best ability when it comes to thought leadership is their availability.

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