Most People Will Never Use This Powerful Business Success Secret
Many lawyers say they get clients by networking. I hate that word. Networking. When most of us think about networking we think about going to meetings with groups of people passing out business cards, shaking hands and trying to sell something.
That’s not what I mean by networking.
True networking involves understanding the value someone provides and matching that value with someone who needs it.
Whenever I meet someone new I ask them two key questions:
“What do you do better than everyone else?”
“What’s keeping you awake at night?”
Then I spend the rest of my career matching people up – paring strengths with issues.
When you do this, you develop deep relationships with people because they know you care about them.
You demonstrate this caring by:
1). Helping people use their greatest talent
2). Helping people solve their greatest problem
This is such a simple concept it begs an additional question:
“Why don’t more people do this?”
My answer is probably something you would not expect…
More people don’t do this because it requires emotional investment in others and diligent effort in furtherance of the agenda of another human being with the promise of nothing in return.
This is called having an external orientation.
You must be focused on other people to use this successfully.
What results can you expect?
Three out of five times (60% of the time) people will do nothing. You will, in some cases, change their lives, their businesses and their future. And people will either not remember you did it or they will pretend to not remember. As a result, you will receive noting in return other than the satisfaction of having made this person’s situation better.
One time in five (20% of the time) the person will be grateful. He will express this gratitude to you. That will feel good. At some point in the future this person will (either actively or passively) do something that benefits you in some way. These people will be loyal to you for life. You can commit offensive acts and these people will defend you. This person will feel a deep emotional bond with you forever.
One time in five (20% of the time) is a magical experience. This person will move heaven and earth and deliver some sort of value to you in excess of anything you could have ever done for him.
This article describes the single greatest success philosophy I have ever learned and practiced.
Just about everything I have accomplished in my career, to this point, has come in part because of this philosophy.
I’m sharing it with you because someone once shared it with me and I put it into practice and it changed my life.
You need to ask yourself: “Do I want my life and my business to improve dramatically?” And “Am I willing to help others selflessly in order to achieve that result?”
If the answers to those questions are: “Yes,” then you must go out and begin to put this philosophy into practice.
Most people won’t.
But if you do, you must promise you will, one day, pass along this external orientation strategy to as many people as possible. Because it not only improves businesses, it can change the course of people’s lives and make the world we live in slightly better.
Marketing for Lawyers: How to Pass a Referral
Have you ever received a referral that just didn’t work out?
Of course you have.
We all have.
The platinum standard of referrals is a meeting which is facilitated specifically for the purpose of introducing the two parties.
The next best thing, the gold standard, is to get both parties on the telephone and make the introduction that way.
The worst way to pass a referral is by doing an introduction. This is where an email is sent introducing both parties and contact information is exchanged.
If you want a complete explanation of each of these techniques and reasons why you should pass referrals using the platinum standard (hint, you get back what you give) watch the video below.
A big part of marketing for lawyers is done through passing referrals. Take the time to get it right.
By the way, sending someone a name and a phone number is NOT a referral. It is an invitation to make a cold call. That’s garbage. Don’t do it.
Law Firm Marketing on a Tight Budget
After speaking about law firm marketing in Miami a couple of days ago, I was approached by a young lawyer with a common question. He asked:
“How can a solo attorney attract clients with zero dollars to put toward marketing?”
This is always a tough question for me to answer because the truth hurts.
It is difficult to attract clients without any money. That’s the truth.
But it can be done.
Below is a four step guide to law firm marketing on a tight budget.
Step One: Call Everyone
Call everyone you know and tell them about the value you provide to you clients. Ask them if they know of anyone who may need your services.
Step Two: Volunteer to Help a Busy Lawyer
Approach the busiest attorney in your practice area in town and volunteer to help him with his caseload. This works because you will be able to take on the cases the busy lawyer does not want to handle or cannot handle because of conflict. Additionally, you may be able to earn a per-case fee for your efforts if you do good work.
Step Three: Attend Meetings of Attorneys in Other Practice Areas
Many times local bar associations host networking meetings for specific practice groups and attendance is covered by your annual dues. If the cost is not covered you can often go to these meetings as the guest of a member – so ask a friend if you can tag along with him.
The key is to go to a meeting in a practice area that is different than yours. So if you are a criminal defense attorney, go to a meeting with family law attorneys. If you are a family law attorney, go to a meeting with probate attorneys, etc.
You will be different than everyone else at the meeting and you will make friends with people who could possibly refer business to you.
Step Four: Speak with Vendors Who Deliver Things to Your Office
The vendors who service your office or your building will often know what’s going on with other people in the community. These vendors can often be a good source of referrals for you. Become friends with vendors and tell them what you do. Explain the value you provide. Ask them if they know anyone who can benefit from your services.
Obviously, these four steps require work and persistence. If you have little money to spend on marketing you must spend your time and effort on personally developing relationships with people who can refer business to you.
This is not easy but you can do it if you have a strong enough desire to be successful.
Add Your Natural Network to Your Law Firms Marketing
The easiest way to bring new business into your law firm is to talk to people in your natural network. Your natural network is simply a database of people who know you, like you and trust you.
Members of your natural network include: friends, family, business vendors, past clients, people from your life and your work. These people may know someone who can benefit from the value you provide.
Reach out to this network of people who know you, like you and trust you and re-introduce yourself to them. Doing this is easy and usually produces rapid results. The best way to engage these folks is to call each person on the telephone. Here’s how to initiate the call:
“Hi this is [insert your name here]. I’m just calling to catch up with you. How are you? What’s new? What’s going on in your life/business?”
These people will give you an update on what’s going on in their lives. They’ll give you an update on what’s going on in their business. Then they will naturally ask what’s going on with you. Then you can say something like:
“I’m glad you asked. Here’s what I’m doing now,” and you talk about how you provide value to your clients.”
In my case I usually say something like:
“I’m glad you asked. I’m providing great information to people who are building professional practices. So I work with doctors, I work with lawyers, I work with people who are independent professionals. I work with people in large firms and small firms and I help them make a great living and live a great life.
I do this by working on business tactic, practice management, time management, efficiency, effectiveness, workflow management and every other aspect related to their business. That’s what I do. If you know of anybody who’s looking for these services, just give me a call and I’ll be happy to reach out to them on your behalf and I’ll treat them just like I would treat you, just like I treat members of my family. They will get VIP treatment from me.”
That’s the whole call. First you see if there’s something you can do for them. Then you tell them about yourself, your law firm, and tell them about the value you provide.
Now here are the results you can expect: In your natural network, let’s say there are 250 people. Ten of those people will know somebody right off the top of their head who they can refer you to and five of those people, may become clients instantly.
Think about that for a moment. This is law firm marketing but all you’re doing is calling and catching up with friends and reaching out to people you know and you’re going to get five clients from it.
Many people you speak with during this process will not immediately be able to think of someone to whom they can refer you. That’s not unusual. In those cases, consider this the beginning of an ongoing communication process. Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect and return to the forefront of the mind of people with whom you’ve lost touch.
The purpose of reaching out to people in your natural network is not just to see if they can refer any business to you. A secondary purpose of this outreach is to get permission from your network to contact them on a regular basis and stay in touch. This is critical and it’s the next step in your law firm marketing plan.
You are going to create a follow-up system and use that system to stay “top of mind” with people.
Marketing For Lawyers Must Include Proper Networking
If you are thinking about marketing for lawyers you’re probably thinking about networking. Most people, especially lawyers, think of networking as a primary marketing strategy yet few lawyers network properly.
Do you know how to bring people together for mutual benefit? If you don’t, you need to learn, because this is the true objective of networking.
Most lawyers think of networking as going out, shaking hands with a few people, and then hoping that person hires you in the future. That’s the wrong thought process and the wrong approach.
The right approach is to think about the person you are meeting and his needs. Helping him achieve his goals will, most likely, lead to you achieving your goals.
Here are five things to keep in mind when marketing for lawyers by networking:
1). Give First Then Receive…Sometimes
Lawyers think of marketing as a quid pro quo relationship. I meet you and send you a case and you should send one back to me as soon as possible. That’s not setting fair expectations for yourself or for the other party.
When you meet someone through networking, you should do some research on him before sending a case his way. At minimum, make certain he is capable of handling the issue you are sending him and make sure he has no ethical complaints in his past.
Refer business to another lawyer based upon the client’s need and the attorney’s competency. Put your expectations for a return referral on the back burner. Doing the right thing for the client will result in more referrals than shipping business to someone whom you know handles a high volume of calls for cases in your client’s area of need.
If a lawyer is a connection (friend, trusted colleague, and respected practitioner) of yours and he is the best person to handle a matter, yet he doesn’t refer cases back to you, send him the case and, in a separate conversation, ask why he does not trust you enough to reciprocate.
2). Less Contacts Deeper Relationships
Lawyers often believe networking is a numbers game. They believe the more contacts you have the greater your chances of receiving referrals. This is not true.
Deep relationships result in referrals. One deep relationship is more valuable than ten casual relationships.
3). Introductions Are Not Referrals
If you introduce a client to a lawyer by email you are not helping either the lawyer or the client. An email introduction is simply an invitation for the lawyer to make a cold call. Don’t do it.
At minimum, get the two parties on the telephone and introduce them by conference call. This will allow you to pass along your thoughts on each of them in a genuine way.
The best way to pass a referral is in person, face-to-face. This is not always possible, but it is always appreciated.
4). Referrals Are Not Necessarily Recommendations
Even when you refer someone by taking both parties to lunch and watching them shake hands, you are not necessarily doing EVERYTHING you can to help them connect and do business.
If you want to make certain your referral partner has the best shot at landing the client you should also make a recommendation. Do this by saying something like:
“I recommend Joe Lawyer (insert name). He is the best (insert practice area) lawyer in town. I use him myself.”
This is a big deal. Do it if you believe it to be true.
5). Think About What Your Network Says About You
Every referral you pass says something about you in two ways:
First: The quality of the person you refer is a reflection of your judgment and personal character. Refer a jerk and you are a jerk. Refer a professional and you are a professional.
Second: How you handle the referral process is indicative of how you will receive referrals in the future. If you make personal introductions to your referral sources, you will receive them in return.
Here’s the bottom line: Networking is essential in marketing for lawyers but if you do not network properly it can work against you. Focus on quality connections and valuable referrals and you will be able to unlock the true power of your ability to bring people together.
In Law Firm Marketing Be a Leader
When it comes to membership in groups or associations you really need to weigh your options carefully. You want to be certain you help fulfill the mission of the group but you also want to help your business in the process.
Making the most of your membership (from a law firm marketing perspective) means that you must take the lead. It means rising up from the rank and file members and helping to make the organization successful.
Assuming a high profile position does three things:
It elevates your status. Leadership in any group will automatically confer status upon you outside that group. People who view you as a leader will almost always view you as a leader in multiple settings.
It shows you are up to the challenge. Well not just THE challenge, any challenge. Leadership is difficult. Most people know this. Taking the lead in one group is a great example of how you can take the lead in almost any situation (in the eyes of others).
It develops trust. Once you are elevated to a leadership role in an organization people immediately feel as though they can trust you. Psychologically, people sense that you must have been elected or appointed because you are a trustworthy person.
There are many reasons (beyond law firm marketing) to give back to a group or organization by taking on a leadership role. You will benefit in many ways from volunteering your time and energy.
Get Into Motion
Many people think about law firm marketing as television advertising, billboards or fancy brochures. While many lawyers use those marketing methods, there is a better way to jump start your client attraction process.
Here is a four step process I use with my private clients:
Invite Your Current Clients and Former Clients to an Event
It is a good idea to hold a client appreciation event at least once a year. At this event you have some live entertainment and some food and beverages. The event should be an informal gathering designed to thank people who have done business with you (or referred clients to you) in the past year).
You must use a multistep marketing sequence to get your clients and former clients to attend the event. People do not agree to come to something just because it is free. They must be sold on the idea.
There are three specific purposes to holding this event:
1).To rekindle your relationship with past clients
2). To educate them on who you are and what you do
3). To initiate an on-going dialogue with them
Make Them Feel Like They Are Part of an Exclusive Club
By hiring you at some point in the past, your clients should feel like they are part of an exclusive club. They should feel as though they have a lawyer in the family. They should be encouraged to call you for any legal need. If you do not handle the issue of the day, you will refer them to someone who can help them.
Educate to Demonstrate Your Expertise
At this event you should give a brief talk covering something in your field of expertise. This is not a sales pitch nor is it an academic lecture. Most often, I advise my clients to discuss a case that has been in the news or something that is of particular interest to the local community. This not only showcases your expertise, it demonstrates leadership and people gravitate toward leaders.
Follow Up with Regular Communication
After the client appreciation event, each person should receive regular, frequent communication from you. This communication (newsletter, email, card in the mail) does exactly what the event did. It reminds the client or former client that you are still open for business. It lets them know that they have an attorney in the family. And it encourages them to call you if the have a need.
Note: In some practice areas, this event will be more geared to referral sources or people who are influential in the community (criminal defense, divorce and immigration for example). While it may be appropriate to invite clients to these events, you will also want to include your best referral sources as well.
Who Are the People Around You?
Have you ever wondered why some people always achieve excellence in everything they do? We have all come across people who, no matter what life throws at them, always seem to succeed. Sure they take some lumps from time to time. Yes, they have an occasional setback. But ultimately, they are winners.
There are many things you can do to elevate your performance as an attorney. There are literally dozens of things you can do to help advance your career or grow your law practice. There is one thing that may just be more important than all others. There is one thing that truly separates the good from the great.
That one thing is the people who surround you. I’m talking about the people who you allow into your life both personally and professionally. I’m not talking about your family. You don’t get to pick them. I am talking about your friends and business associates. If you want to fulfill your potential both as an attorney and as a person, you need to surround yourself with people who are better, smarter, and quicker than you.
Reverse Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is that thing our parents always warned us about. As an attorney looking to grow a law firm, surrounding yourself with peers who are smart, aggressive, ethical lawyers is a great way to stimulate your personal growth.
Surrounding yourself with successful business people gives you a competitive advantage. It opens your eyes to new ideas beyond the paradigm of the legal world. It keeps you focused on what is working in the world of your clients. It makes you sharp and keeps you on the cutting edge.
Each of us is judged by the company we keep. I am not talking about perception. I am talking about something real. Something more important. Your growth and the growth of your law firm. Look at any attorney whose law firm has stopped growing and you will find that they are surrounded by stagnant people.
Avoid Feeding Your Own Ego
It’s human nature. We all want to be the smartest, most successful person in the room. But that kind of thinking is a recipe for failure. I would rather be the dumbest person in a room full of geniuses than be a genius in a room full of dummies.
Go out and make a list of the successful people you know but have not interacted with in a while (if ever). Pursue them like a high school girl pursues a matinee idol. Establish a relationship with them and learn as much as you can.
Things that do not grow (intellectually or physically) begin to die. Said another way…
The day you stop learning is the day you stop earning…
Surround yourself with excellence and you will shape your destiny.
New York Lawyers Marketing Mecca
The neighborhood watering hole at the corner of East 63rd Street and First Avenue was a place where multi-million dollar deals were negotiated over burgers and beer. It wasn’t a fancy steakhouse. It was an old-fashioned pub where people went to kick back and “work things out”.
The same faces were always around the bar. In that way it was kind of like a TV show. You knew that Mikey was a securities guy and Joe used to be with the DA’s office. Tuesday Pete (he got his nickname because he always came in early on Tuesdays) was with a big firm and did transactional work just like the guys who came in for Monday Night Football. It was a dream for lawyers who got business from other lawyers. Marketing was an afterthought.
Relationships were important in this New York lawyer hangout. If you met someone there you knew they were good people. If you sent them some work, you knew your client would be taken care of. And you knew that If there was ever something you could get back from them, they would not hesitate.
Lots of legal work changed hands in that crowded little place that smelled like stale beer and rotting mahogany. And lawyers from that neighborhood knew they had to stop in there once a week to get the scoop on the legal news on the East Side.
But that was 20 years ago and lawyers marketing their services are now probably just as likely to meet on line or at a formal networking function. What hasn’t changed is the fact that relationships still matter. You need to know someone well before you refer business to them. They need to know that you are good people before they refer business to you.
You don’t need to be at a New York pub to develop those relationships. And marketing for lawyers doesn’t always have to be about advertising and giving speeches. Sometimes having a beer and getting to know someone can be even more valuable.
Law Firm Marketing: You are Probably Doing It Wrong
Most law firm marketing is done incorrectly, if it is done at all. You know your marketing is bad if:
Everything in your law firm marketing material is about you. This is a common marketing mistake. Great law firm marketing educates the client about solutions to his/her problem. Clients come to you for solutions. They don’t come to you to ask about your background.
At some point in the marketing process it may make sense to let the client know about your qualifications, experience and education. But in the beginning, it is best to focus on educating the client about the situation and provide them with solutions to their problems.
You only work on your law firm marketing when you need clients. Many lawyers come to me when they are in this position. They get in an alternating cycle of client overwhelm followed by a dearth of business. For three months are franticly busy and then for three months there is nothing. Then one month of client work and two months of nothing. They fall into the trap of ignoring the marketing while the client work is plentiful and that leads to double the amount of time without client work.
Law firm marketing is something that must take place consistently. In good times and in bad times you must be focused on building your client base.
The cornerstone of your law firm marketing is networking. Since there are restrictive rules governing the marketing process in each state, many attorneys believe the only true way to market their services is by networking. Networking is a very effective way for attorneys to attract clients but it should only be one in a series of client attraction tactics.
The right way to use networking in your law firm marketing plan is to set a goal for each networking event. Decide who you want to meet, how you can help them (giving is the best way to start any relationship) and how you will follow up.
You only have one way to find new clients. This is a common problem we find in semi-successful law firms. The law firm has developed one way to attract a great deal of clients. But when that particular marketing tactic loses its effectiveness the firm has no new clients.
Your law firm marketing must always include several (at least 10) different ways to attract and retain clients. This diversity affords you the luxury of testing new tactics because you are not financially devoted to one specifically.
You think law firm marketing is all about billboards, bus stop benches and television ads. Many attorneys believe that television and billboards are the only forms of media successful attorneys use. This is far from the truth. In fact, most successful attorneys will never use these media. They have dozens if not hundreds of other ways to attract clients.
If your law firm fits one of these five criteria, help is available. To change your view of law firm marketing and get more clients, give us a call today. 888.692.5531. We can help you develop some smart, ethical and effective law firm marketing tactics that will drive clients right to your front door.