By Stephen Seckler, from the CounseltoCounsel Blog – great tips to help you maximize your networking efforts – in building your practice or finding a new position!
“I was speaking to one of my clients the other day and he described for me what he does any time he makes a court appearance. At the end of the day, he goes back to his office and takes a few minutes to document what happened. He has a longstanding practice of doing this and he always tries to do it the same days so that his memory is fresh. In effect, he has created a habit which ensures that he does not have to rely on his memory to keep track of his cases.
Many lawyers do this as a matter of course. In fact it is good practice whether you are a litigator or a transactional lawyer to generate file memos that are written after you have met with a client or interviewed someone on behalf of a client. As lawyers, we are very good at documenting in our case work.
But when it comes to networking meetings, we forget to use the skills we use all the time in practicing law. We do not prepare in the same way, and we do not take the time to document our activities (and calendar next steps).
This litigation client of mine has begun incorporating his regular business practices into his marketing activities. After each networking meeting, he makes sure to write down notes about the conversation (including both personal and professional things he learned from the individual). I am also encouraging him to “docket” a next step with that individual (if he deems the individual to be a potential referral source or client).
No one likes to take time to do this. Tracking time, documenting what you have done and making a point of deciding on next steps before the day ends is all cumbersome. But when it comes to relationship building, documenting is an invaluable activity that can help you greatly as you cultivate relationships over time.”
When you get right down to it, fear is probably the biggest obstacle to marketing success for most professionals. No one likes rejection and if you plan to ask anyone for business or referrals, the odds are very high you will experience a significant amount of rejection. In sales, for example, it may take 15 phone calls to reach five prospects which may result in two meetings. In other words, you may have to experience 13 rejections just to get two meetings.
And even if you get two meetings with potential clients or referral sources, it still may take 20 meetings to generate a significant piece of work. So if you do the math, you may need to make 150 phone calls or send 150 e-mail messages in order to set up those meetings.
That may seem like a daunting number. While that number will vary a lot based on the type of practice you have and the quality of the relationships you call upon, the bottom line is that in order to build a practice, you have to prepare yourself for a lot of rejection. (more…)
The foundation of a strong law practice is a strong referral network. Even your best clients probably don’t need you all the time. This is particularly true for litigators. But what is a strong referral network and how do you build it?
Fundamentally, a good referral network starts with a focused marketing message. It is difficult to generate referrals if you do not have a clear idea of who you want to serve and what services you want to provide. (Who are you, who do you do, who do you serve, what have you done and how do you differentiate yourself from other lawyers?)
Having a well defined niche is important because it helps you communicate what you do in a way that is memorable (so that it is easy for happy clients and other professionals to pass your name along at the right moment). Having a niche also helps you think more strategically about who you might want to cultivate (e.g. other service providers who serve the same clients). (more…)
Building relationships with potential referral sources is an important part of building your law practice. But given the huge range of possibilities about who you can spend your time with, where do you begin?
The starting point of course is deciding who you identify as your ideal client. Once you have established this, your next step is to identify who are the referral sources who work with these same clients. These can be other professionals who provide different services to the same clientele; they can also be other lawyers who are billing at a different rate and need a lower-cost alternative to refer work to when prospective clients cannot afford their fee.
Beyond this, how do you spend your time efficiently and focus on good “potential referral sources”. The following is a four step process for making that determination: (more…)