Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Gary’s column from The Lawyers Weekly, November 18 2016
Be honest: is your firm doing everything it can to better serve your clients? Are your lawyers taking the time to really get to know and understand the needs of your clients and the big picture view?
Before you go out and spend money on your marketing initiatives, ensure you are helping your lawyers better serve your clients, building valuable business partnerships, and truly understanding the needs and challenges, ensuring better alignment and increased value.
Shotgun approach or strategic approach? That’s easy. Strategic. Don’t do what everyone else does (‘show up and throw up’). Look at building your profile from the client’s perspective first, then your own. Here’s how you can avoid the lacklustre results you get from a self-centred shotgun approach by being strategic about how you build your profile: First, be where your target market is; second, be relevant. How do you do that? Ask your current clients what events they attend and why. Ask them what they read and why. Ask them what content would be of value to them and why. Find out what’s missing. Then contact the associations and publications your target market attends and reads and ask them the same questions. This is a highly effective and strategic way of ensuring you are where your target market is and you’re relevant to them and their needs.
If you haven’t done this already, go out and see all of your key clients. Find out what they are worried about, what their current or immediate challenges are, and what they foresee as future challenges. What is going on in their day-to-day operations? Be genuinely interested in THEM. Here’s how it turned out for one of our clients: While on a call with a firm client, a junior lawyer learned of a pressing need. He communicated that need to his managing partner who immediately got on the phone with the client. Ten minutes later, at the client’s request, the managing partner met the client at this office and a few minutes after that, he secured a large mandate to help the client solve the problem the junior lawyer had learned about earlier that day. It can be THAT SIMPLE.
Get a pulse on what your clients are doing, what they need and how can you help them. To do that, you have to get out there and talk to them. The opportunity here is to create a value-based relationship. The impact of your social relationship with a client is important but will only get you so far, watch what happens when you create a value-based relationship. Business development isn’t always about getting new clients. There are opportunities with current clients. Go find them!
I am very pleased to chair Raindance: The Business Development Bootcamp for Lawyers, a webinar to air September 24th. Working closely with the conference organizers at The Commons Institute, we’ve put together a stellar group of presenters including legal practitioners and legal marketers who are leading innovation in today’s marketplace. From Law Clerk, Cris Lam who will share what she did to grow her network and bring in clients to her firm; to Bobbi-Ann Wallace, a fourth year M&A Lawyer who will share her approach to business development, and Kris Bonn, a Managing Partner will share how he continued to make rain, lead the firm, manage his people, engage his team in business development and grow his firm. We also have Jana Schilder, my Co-Founder at The Legal A Team, who will cover the value of media relations in growing your firm, and Susan Van Dyke of Van Dyke Marketing and Communications, who will cover off effectively using Social Media.
In addition to the amazing content we will cover, each participant of this webinar will receive a copy of my 2nd book, “Raindance 2: A Blueprint for Growing Your Practice, Small Firm addition”, and a one-hour coaching session with me to follow the conference. If you are looking to grow your practice or firm, this webinar cannot be missed. GO to http://thecommonsinstitute.com/rain.html and sign up today. Early-bird pricing is still in effect. I look forward to working with you to grow your firm.
Situation: A very unhappy 5th year associate decides he can no longer practice as a litigator. He approaches his firm to get support in making a shift to build a solicitor practice. The marketing department hired me to work with him to turn his career around.
Approach: As we began to create his business plan, we focused on his definition of success, what did he ultimately want to create for his career? We focused on his values and what was important to him. Before we decided where he would focus his attention we spent some time figuring out what made him tick. As it turned out, environmental issues were very important to him. So we investigated the ‘green’ market and how it was being served. Through his connections and contacts he was able to get some meetings with green start-up companies.
Results: It didn’t take too long before he was bringing in new business. He created an IP practice and worked under one of the partners at his firm. The shift that he experienced was clearly visible to his colleagues at the firm. He was happy, engaged, motivated and committed to building his practice. It wasn’t too long before he was basically caught up to the partner track he had been on. What was that worth to him and his career? What was that worth to his firm instead of losing this talented and loyal associate, they made a small investment in him and helped turn his career around? And what did it mean for his career?
Situation: A Managing Partner decides he would like to get more people on his team engaged in business development. He suggests coaching for one of his law clerks and warns me that she is very introverted and shy. After consulting her it was apparent she was very open to coaching to improve skills and advance her career.
Approach: This is an excellent example of business development 101. This law clerk was extremely introverted. And yet at the same time she was open to expanding her skills and career. We began by identifying networking opportunities and professional associations she could join. It wasn’t too long before she was enjoying networking and looking forward to the next event. She was making great progress in building her network. We also looked at where to get her published and what speaking opportunities there were.
Results: In a very short time she identified the fact that she would never have been engaged in her current business development approach prior to the coaching. During the summer months she was chomping at the bit for September when these functions started up again. She gained confidence when networking and started to make some great connections. She started contributing to her firm’s blog. She’s currently approaching legal publications to write articles and looking for speaking opportunities as well as joining Toastmasters to improve her presentation skills. It won’t be too long before she starts bringing in clients to her firm.
The Legal A Team is a newly formed alliance of legal marketers who deliver big firm experience to small to mid-size firms and solo practitioners. As a Co-Founder, I’m pleased that we can offer the small to mid-sized law firms and solo practice lawyers the same level of expertise usually only found at the big firm level. We have assembled a team of experts who have worked for some of the biggest law firms in North America. We have a complete range of services: business development training, business development coaching, legal marketing and branding strategy, legal public relations, legal social media, and websites.
We know the demands of small-and mid-sized firms are great. An up until now, they haven’t had access to the same resources of larger firms. Finding the right coaching, training, marketing, and PR people for you and your firm while still running your practice and serving the needs of demanding clients is a huge challenge. You are no longer on your own. Legal A Team is here to help you grow your solo practice, or small to mid-size firm.
When you see your competitor all over social media all the time, or in the mainstream media all the time, chances are very good that they have someone or even a team of people helping them. Think about it. How can they have time to serve their clients and be doing so much marketing at the same time?
When someone needs a lawyer they go to you (hopefully). So why is it when you need to improve your marketing and business development efforts you don’t go to an expert for help? You keep doing the same things over and over or you just stop altogether out of frustration. Come on, you’re a smart person. This isn’t rocket science. You’re a lawyer. Focus your time and efforts on lawyering and generating more work, and then surround yourself with people who have the skills and knowledge you don’t and reach out to them for support. One of the rules I create for my clients is this. If you’re not doing the work or focused on generating it, then delegate. Then just watch your practice/firm grow.
I am very pleased to chair this webinar conference to air September 24th. Working closely with the conference organizers at The Commons Institute, we’ve put together a stellar group of presenters including legal practitioners and legal marketers who are leading innovation in today’s marketplace. From Law Clerk, Cris Lam who will share what she did to grow her network and bring in clients to her firm; to Bobbi-Ann Wallace, a fourth year M&A Lawyer who will share her approach to business development, and Kris Bonn, a Managing Partner will share how he continued to make rain, lead the firm, manage his people, engage his team in business development and grow his firm. We also have Jana Schilder, Managing Partner of First Principals Communication who will cover the value of media relations in growing your firm, and Susan Van Dyke of Vandyke marketing, who will cover off effectively using Social Media.
In addition to the amazing content we will cover, each participant of Raindance will receive a copy of my 2nd book, “Raindance 2: A Blueprint for Growing Your Practice, Small Firm addition”, and a one-hour coaching session with me to follow the conference. If you are looking to grow your practice or firm, this webinar cannot be missed. GO to The Commons Institute and sign up today. You can also view our YouTube video. I look forward to working with you to grow your firm.
Recently I had a senior partner hire me to coach him. When he sent me his profile, I was a little surprised he needed help given his amazing profile. Pages of speaking engagements, tons of published articles, three text books published. So one of the first questions I asked him was “How did your practice come to this?” He told me the not-so-uncommon story of cruising along for years with a very large client that had a lot of ongoing work. So he rested on his laurels. Then one day that client vanished. Even some of his other clients have become smaller with fewer needs for his services. So here he is with one of the most impressive profiles I’ve ever seen for a lawyer in his practice area, and he very few contacts to draw from. This is another reason not to stop building relationships and growing your network of potential leads and referral sources. You never know if it will just vanish one day.