Photo of Paula Black

“I help lawyers who want to take their practice to the next level… more clients, more credibility and more fulfillment in life.”

The lawyers I work with often lament that they never have time for business development. But, is that really true? We have all been there… needing to do two or three things at once or having to do more in a day then is humanly possible. We seldom examine how we are trying to get things done. Nicolas Cole a contributor to Inc.com took a look and found that it just might be our habits that are killing our productivity.

Cole points out:

1. Constantly Checking Your Phone
2. Not Really Listening
3. Multitasking
4. Working With the Television On
5. Working in Unproductive Environments
6. Working With Unproductive People
7. Lack of Preparation
8. Notifications…OFF!

Think about them and you must admit that these 8 habits do kill our productivity. When I read number 4 – working with the television on, I said YIKES! Yes, that’s my habit and I know it IS distracting and I would be more productive if I would turn it off. I think I’ll work on minimizing the affect of this habit on my productivity and just turn it off! (Okay… I did it!)

What habit do YOU want to tackle to become more productive and have more time for business development?

 

 

Chances are this is how you’re networking, collecting business cards that will remain in your pocket until you wear that jacket again. Instead, you could be building relationships that really matter?

Let me ask you. Do you look at an event on your calendar and think… I would give my right arm to just go home rather than this event? I hate smiling and acting as though I’m interested in what anyone is saying. Actually I don’t even like those people. Then you snap out of it. You grab a cup of coffee that gives you a little jolt and vow… I’m going and I will be the most charming person in the room!

Tell me which YOU really shows up at that event? Chances are its someone in between. And I guarantee you that whomever you meet recognizes the insincerity, forced smile and faked interest. I’m telling you now, instead go home because the event will be a big waste of time… yours and everyone you meet.

There is a better way.

Instead go home and think about what you really want in your practice. Who is your ideal client? Where do they go? What is important to them? How could you help them? What circles would you like to be a part of? NOW… how can you act on the answers to these questions? This process is strategic and it’s the foundation to building relationships that matter.

How can you build trust with these new people? There is one question that Inc. Magazine writer John Hall asserts will be a game changer.

How can I be helpful to you?

Yes, it’s a simple question that could change the trajectory of your practice and your life. Hall points out:

  • It allows you to help others better.
  • It cuts through any potential awkwardness of a new relationship.
  • It enables you to be proactive.

Try it! You will be building relationships that matter, and that IS a game changer!

Everyday we look at our “To Do” list and it never seems to get smaller. It grows by the day. We try to prioritize our list. Everyone has hundreds of methods they’ve tried. And yet the problem persists. Maybe we are doing what Seth Godin points out:

Most of what we do at work all day is one of these three.

Fun: It’s engaging, it gives us satisfaction, people smile.

Urgent: Someone else (or perhaps we) decided that this paper is on fire and it has to be extinguished before anything else happens.

Fear-based: Most common of all, the things we do to protect ourselves from the fear we’d have to sit with if we didn’t do them.

Not on this list: important.

A day spent doing important work is rare indeed. Precious, too.”

Wow, important work! Think about that one. Are the things on your list impacting others, are you making a difference? As I write this I can’t help but think of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. The pride they must feel for doing the work they know is IMPORTANT. Mrs. Douglas would have been proud.

Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate. That’s why it’s so important to define success for yourself and work towards a career and a life that energizes you and fulfills your passion.

But I can hear the objections now… 

that sounds great, but I’m stuck in this job and I hate it but I can’t leave because there’s nothing better…”

I get it… most of us can look back at our career and identify time periods that we didn’t love. First of all, if you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to have a long-term plan to get you moving towards something you truly enjoy. But in the meantime, there are likely steps that you can take to make your current position more fulfilling. Here are four suggestions.

Take control of your time by learning to say no. One of the most common complaints I hear from lawyers relate to demanding people – often clients and colleagues. These lawyers constantly feel pressured and behind the eight-ball. They end up stressed out, working long hours, and hating every minute of it. The solution is to learn when and how to say no. With clients, it can be as simple as “I can’t get that for you right this minute- but I can have it to you within 48 hours, is that okay?” With colleagues you can take the same approach, or you can tactfully let them know that you don’t have the time right now to spend on their request. When you learn to say no, you take back control of your time, and that’s a BIG deal.

Figure out what you do enjoy about your work and how you can spend more time doing that. Chances are there are some aspects of your work that you enjoy. What are they? How can you put yourself in position to do MORE of this type of work? For example, if there’s a specific type of matter that you enjoy, consider telling your managing partner how much you enjoy it… and why you think you do a great job at it. If much of your work comes from referrals, let your referral sources know what kind of work you’re looking for!

Make time for rest, relaxation, and sleep. When you’re overworked, often the first thing you sacrifice is sleep. And you likely find yourself sacrificing time with your family and friends. You may also find it difficult to find the time to exercise, to read, and to pursue your other interests. It’s important that you do everything you can to manage your time efficiently in order to MAKE time for these non-work priorities. Otherwise you’ll wake up one morning and realize that you’re miserable.

Create a longer-term plan which will move you in a direction you’re excited about… and start taking baby steps! You may be in a difficult position at the moment and you may have limited options. But the GOOD NEWS is that this situation won’t last unless you let it! Make the commitment to figure out what you want your career and your life to look like and create a plan to get there. Figure out what success looks like for YOU and begin acting on it. I would love to help you with this process if you’d like to chat – feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

Are you having marketing meetings? Talk is cheap. Buy-in and action is key. Thinking and planning is the easy part for lawyers. Implementation is not. Too often it is where the plan falls apart. Remember that discussions, meetings, and planning are only the start. The key is taking ACTION. The big question… What actions should be taken? Here are our Top Six Marketing Tips:

No. 6 – Be Active in Organization(s)

Over the years we have heard lawyers say that they belong to several organizations, but that it’s a waste of time and doesn’t lead to additional business. However, when examined further, one finds that although they are “joiners,” they are not “doers.” Being active in organizations requires just that – activity.

If you want this form of marketing to help you develop business you must:

• Be more than a joiner –make a meaningful contribution

• Seek leadership position – volunteer often

• Join business or trade groups that your clients and prospects belong to

• Believe in the organization’s mission so you will remain interested and active

There are other marketing activities that may produce quicker results, but being active and involved in organizations that your clients and prospective clients belong to can produce meaningful results in getting new clients.

No. 5 – Write Articles of Interest

While authoring articles isn’t a new technique, writing to demonstrate your expertise is still an effective marketing tool, if it is:

• Topical and interesting (to your target audience)

• Easy to read (not legalese, unless you’re marketing to other lawyers)

• Not too lengthy (short, succinct articles are better)

• Published in a publication that your audience reads (whether general public or business/trade specific)

Obviously, the purpose is to show that you know your topic and, accordingly, are perceived as having the expertise to assist the reader with those legal issues.

No.4 –Talk it Up

Speaking engagements are some of the best marketing activities. Like writing articles, speaking adds the additional advantage of putting you in the same room with potential clients where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise AND develop an emotional bond with your audience. These opportunities have led to immediate work when a potential client in the audience has an immediate problem relating to the same issues raised in the speech. Moreover, if the seminar or speech is sponsored by a respected organization, you receive instant credibility.

No. 3 – Communicate Often

James C. Turner, executive director of HALT, a national legal reform advocacy group in Washington, DC points out: One of the most frequent complaints his organization gets is that…

the basic communication between lawyers and clients is terrible.”

He cites one case where a client tried 13 times in a two-week period to contact the attorney. That’s the type of situation that leads to mistrust and, ultimately, to a consumer fraud complaint.

Poor communication between attorney and client is also the most common reason clients file complaints with state bars. A failure of communication is not only unwise, it’s just dumb marketing. Even if the client may not need your services again, the client is likely to tell a number of people, who could be potential clients, about their unhappiness.

There are scores of opportunities (in addition to keeping the client informed about their matter) to contact clients, referral sources, and even prospects; and the more contacts made the better. The best way to communicate would be with phone calls, handwritten notes, next letters, emails, and lastly texts. Obviously, they are in reverse order of ease of accomplishing, but think about what impresses you the most. The important thing, however, is constant communication.

No. 2 – Entertain Your Client

Okay, we can hear all the “duhs” from here. If it is so obvious, why don’t more lawyers do it? Clients are people too. In fact, entertainment is still one of the most effective one-on-one marketing techniques. It not only allows quality time with a client, prospect, or referral source, but also allows one to enhance a relationship on a highly personal level.

Clients want to be loved and appreciated. So, building on the emotional bond between lawyer and client is very important for long-term relationships, and for what is even more effective from a business development viewpoint – a lasting friendship.

No. 1 – Visit Your Client

The single most effective marketing technique, which leads to immediate business in the vast majority of cases, is to visit your client at their place of business.

This visit is not for the purpose of discussing a current matter you may be working on (unless client wants to, of course). The client should know that they are not being billed for the visit.

Your purpose is multifaceted: relationship building, listening, learning, meeting others, and uncovering issues of concern. The main point is to get into the client’s workspace where their day-to-day problems are found, and for which you may be able to assist them.

Such visits will not only enhance your relationship, but it will almost certainly lead to IMMEDIATE work. This has been validated many times over the years. Many of the lawyers we have worked with confirm that such visits result in immediate new business. So, starting today schedule a client visit or two. You will fast become a believer.

In 2018 get into action! These six tips are not complicated or overly time consuming. Start with two, then add one or two a month. We promise you that you will be pleased with the results. We have seen it over and over again… they work!

 

We’re sure you have noticed the new look, new logo and new faces. Why? Because we: Paula Black, Daniel Decker and Marc Cerniglia have joined forces with Tom Kane.

The legal environment is changing rapidly. Success in the legal industry – just like any other industry – requires evolution and adaptation.

With this blog, Tom Kane has built a foundation of timeless marketing wisdom for lawyers of all shapes and sizes.

Now, we’re excited to build on this foundation and adapt these proven marketing principles into our world in 2018 and beyond. There’s massive change swirling all around us – the internet has changed the way that lawyers market themselves, and even the way that practices must operate. But the fundamental legal marketing principles that have worked for centuries are still vitally important today. And it’s our mission to show you how to apply these tried-and-true strategies to your daily life.

Daniel Decker and Marc Cerniglia, founders of Spotlight Branding, will serve as your guides to a better way of marketing your law firm on the internet. They argue passionately that the proven, foundational approach to legal marketing – ie, a focus on relationships, reputation, referrals, and repeat business – is more relevant than ever in 2018. And they’ll show you how to create marketing strategies and systems focused on these objectives.

Paula Black, a coach, author, and speaker with over 30 years of experience in the legal industry will show you how to create a marketing plan that aligns with your professional goals – but more importantly, with your goals for your life. Paula believes that lawyers can and should find harmony between work, family, and play – and she’ll show you how to make this happen in your own life.

And Tom Kane will continue to participate; contributing his sage wisdom on marketing a legal practice that builds a thriving firm, and his insights on the legal profession.

We hope that you will subscribe now so that you don’t miss anything. We look forward to building on Tom’s foundation and helping you market your practice effectively in 2018 and beyond.

Stay Tuned!