This is the time of year to especially enjoy family and friends. However, set aside some time over the holidays to plan some goals for your law practice in 2014. Don’t wait until January.
Sally Schmidt has an article on today’s Attorney at Work that outlines some 2014 goals and strategies that may just help you and your firm in the coming year. She talks about four areas to focus on, and I wholeheartedly endorse her marketing and business development suggestions:
- Increase your personal interaction. This is vital to any practice. Visit clients (off the clock) particularly your key or “crown jewel” clients. I wouldn’t limit the number of visits, however. Rather, I would visit as many as possible, since such visits often lead to immediate new work. Nor would I limit my visits to clients only. Include important referral sources as well. Further, I would plan to have coffee or lunch with at least one client and/or referral source every week. I very much like Schmidt’s suggestion to “send at least one personal note a week,” but make sure it is handwritten, including the envelope. Finally, email interactions (other than for communicating about a client matter, especially if it is a client’s preference) should be a last choice. Better to communicate by phone or in-person;
- Provide better client service. In today’s competitive environment, this is a no brainer. Not only does it lead to more work from happy clients, but valuable referrals to new clients. Unhappy clients do not come back or make referrals; in fact, they’re more likely to say bad things about your services and their experience with your firm. Better service means keeping clients informed about their matter and returning calls almost immediately, if not sooner. If you can’t do so, empower someone else to call the client back and inform them of when you will personally be in touch;
- Look for opportunities to raise your profile. This might include more writing and speaking, and responding to blog posts and social media discussions, particularly on LinkedIn; and
- Work on your credentials. Polish your elevator speech(es) – short, succinct explanation(s) of what you do to “help” clients achieve their goals. It shouldn’t begin with “I’m a lawyer….” but rather that you “try to resolve (fill in the blank) problems on behalf of (types of clients/businesses/industries)”; and revise your bio to include up-to-date information about your experience on transactional matters or cases (without identifying clients names without their permission).
Be prepared for the new year. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as say: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”