It can feel like there are a million ways to market legal services. But like anything else, when you dive deep and look at the core elements underpinning great truths, there are usually only a handful of key principles that provide the foundation for success. In this article, I’m going to boil down lawyer business development to three major factors that, if well executed, can make a significant difference in your career.
Get A ‘Watcher’
There’s a reason why athletes have coaches, teams have managers, musicians and actors have agents, and kids have tutors.
They all have someone watching over them. Watching out for them. Making sure they stay on track, consistently doing what it takes to get the most out of their talent. There is a plan, and the watchers watch to make sure they’re hitting that plan; building on their strengths and suggesting changes where needed.
Don’t lawyers also deserve to get the most from their careers? Lawyers spend so much time working on their craft, but relatively little time on maximising the economic return that can come from delivering that craft. Like anything else, if you’re going to do it, why not do it as well as possible?
In your role as a lawyer, who is your watcher? Who is your handler, your personal accountability partner who helps you develop a great plan and keeps you accountable to relentlessly execute it? Take a moment, close your eyes and imagine the kind of practice you could have if you were fully engaged. It can be pretty intoxicating. But you need a team, and one of the most important players on that team is your watcher.
One lawyer I’m coaching set up several watchers. She has her assistant watch over her list of important contacts, making sure she stays in touch frequently enough to stay top-of-mind. She has another watcher, a partner who she meets with monthly to brainstorm marketing ideas and they hold each other accountable for completing their commitments. She also has a standing monthly meeting with a member of the firm’s business development team to tap into their wisdom, and the firm’s resources, to find new opportunities to get out in front of targeted potential clients. Engaging your watcher(s) can set you up to achieve a whole new level of success.
Lawyers spend so much time working on their craft, but relatively little time on maximising the economic return that can come from delivering that craft.
Don’t Let Them Forget You
As a species, we often take some of our best relationships for granted. We don’t shower them with enough love and attention to make sure they don’t leave. Marriages end, friendships sour, clients move on, prospects choose other lawyers, and referrals give work to someone else.
All too often, we hear potential clients or referral sources say some variation of ‘I’ll keep you in mind’, but we know that’s not always the case. In fact, in your own mind the game here is to flip that statement – instead of hearing ‘I’ll keep you in mind’, you must translate that into ‘I invite you to stay in my mind’. It’s not their responsibility to remember you, it’s your responsibility to be remembered. The goal is to find elegant, valued and welcomed ways to do just that.
For example, some lawyers have Google Alerts set on their top targets, and when something worthwhile shows up in the news about that contact, they reach out. Other lawyers use techniques like offering on-site presentations, conducting office hours, making valuable introductions, joining clients when they’re conducting their own internal strategic planning sessions, and setting up social events.
There is a statistic I’ve seen which says that about two-thirds of the leads which professional service providers collect in their career are not followed up. One great way to prevent this from happening is to make a list of your important contacts, note the last time you contacted them, and revisit that list often to make sure no-one goes stale. If time has passed, come up with a good reason to reach out, and make that contact. Many lawyers I’ve coached have told me that after reaching out to someone they hadn’t spoken to in a while, they received a piece of work shortly thereafterer. Again, it’s not their job to remember you, it’s your job to be remembered.
You must rise above the noise of others to stand out and stand for something they need.
You may be a tree. A big, beautiful, talented and highly experienced tree. But if you fall deep in the forest and no one who wants to buy lumber hears it, it doesn’t really matter how great you are.
Which means you must make a noise. Good noise, welcomed noise, noise you want potential clients to hear. Your future clients are out there, looking for you – but it’s your job to be found.
For our purposes, famous doesn’t mean worldwide Elvis, Beyonce or Warhol-like fame. It is about being known within your specific circle of high-value people – those who have the power to hire you or refer the kind of work you want to attract.
Let’s say you’re an employment lawyer and you’re looking to get work from mid to large companies in London. Are you known by those decision-makers? Do you have personal relationships with a good number of them? Do you go to the events they attend, write for the publications they read, or conduct presentations when they gather in meetings? Do you join and take leadership positions in their groups? Do you send out press releases relating to your successes? Are you visible on social media and are you interviewed by the traditional media
One lawyer I recently coached was a skilled presenter and our strategy was to get him in front of as many high-value rooms as possible. He wrote articles and submitted them organisations to demonstrate his expertise. After receiving a few invitations, he was so well received that others reached out to ask him to speak at their organisations. This exposure, this ‘fame’ attracted
many new clients.
The fact is, people want to work with those who look successful, and by utilising the exposure afforded by fame-making institutions they can amplify you and make you a ‘famous’ authority
on subjects that attract your targeted clients. Use this psychology to your advantage.
So there you have it. Be watched. Don’t let the people you’ve already met forget you. Get famous so you can attract new clients. Three keys that can open some very lucrative doors to the kind of practice others can only dream about.
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First Published on October 2022 • www.globelawandbusiness.com