Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
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.
Situation: A 4th year associate already engaged in business development wants to take it to the next level and begin attracting the ‘bigger fish’. She has the attention of one of the senior named partners and decides to invest in coaching to help her build her practice. I was not surprised to learn that she was going to pay me directly and not ask her firm to cover the investment. She did this for many reasons, not the least of which being that she didn’t want anything hanging over her head. She didn’t want the firm to hold expectations over her. The only person who knew about my work with her was the senior partner that she did work for. And he was very supportive.
Approach: We created a business plan for her practice. We identified key events to attend and network. We identified key contacts to help her build her network of referrals. Her confidence in herself and her ability to attract new clients is increasing. She created her own networking/mastermind group and meets monthly. I helped her build her LinkedIn profile and network.
Results: By taking this initiative and hiring me directly, and gaining business development skills, this makes her more valuable as a Lawyer. Whether she ends up staying where she is or looks to move to another firm, her ability to build her own book of business makes her more valuable and attractive to partnership. She invested in herself, in her career and her success. Based on my experience, she will see that investment pay off in dividends for years to come.
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.
Once you’ve addressed the first three considerations, and before you go out there in all directions with your newly found focus on marketing; the final consideration in becoming more targeted in your approach to business development is to understand where you can get in front of your target audience. The easiest and most effective way of determining this, is simply to ask your current ‘ideal’ clients, the ones you want more of:
What associations do they belong to? What events do they attend and why? What publications do they read and why? What are some of the most pressing challenges they are facing right now? I refer to this approach as ‘soft market research’. Asking your current clients these questions will tell you everything you need to know in how to get in front of people just like them-more potential ideal clients.
Having followed this TST™ methodology has led my clients to produce amazing results. See the thing is when you are pointed in the right direction, given the tools to succeed, because of your training, you learn very quickly. You are able to create new habits which help you excel in business development. Working with lawyers has made me a better coach.
This has become a hot topic of late. As a busy lawyer when do you have time to get on social media and make an impact? Here are a few suggestions to maximize your time, and produce better results. Starting with your blog, instead of having to rely on time becoming available in your busy schedule, block off a couple of hours and write your posts for the month. You can schedule them ahead of time. Make sure your blog gets posted to your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts expanding your reach. A good habit to get into is before checking your email in the morning, take about ten minutes and visit LinkedIn. See what’s going on, if there is something that might be of interest to your clients or audience that you can post yourself, or re-post someone else’s content.
Then throughout your day when you need to take a break from your work, or find yourself losing concentration, pop back on and again see what’s happening. It’s all about making it work for you, having the discipline to keep on it every day. And it really only takes a few minutes. The important thing is repetition and keeping top of mind with your clients and audience.
We read about it everywhere about how increasingly your clients, in-house counsel are using social media to research and source talent and stay informed. Research came out a couple of years ago with the fact that more and more of your potential clients were and are looking at your LinkedIn profile (if you even have one), before your law firm web site. In fact LinkedIn has released the numbers to prove it. According to a recent article in Lexpert by Bev Cline, Danielle Restivo, LinkedIn’s Head of Global Programs, Corporate Communications says the network has “over 3,000 members with the ‘In-House Counsel’ in their title, more than 33,000 who have ‘General Counsel’ in their title.” And that adds to the already 470,000 members who have the word ‘lawyer’ in their title.
Typically the article goes on to say, that in-house counsel are using social media in ‘listen mode’. That means that they are gathering information and learning about you and your expertise through the content you post and the contributions you make online. There are 410 groups on LinkedIn dedicated to in-house counsel. The numbers speak for themselves. If you are not using social media as one of your business development strategies in attracting clients, you are missing out.
So now you have several strategies to get out there and find more people who need your services, find more referral sources and how to make it easier for them to find you. One last thing to wrap it all up.
You are a busy professional. You want to ensure that you get maximum efforts for your business development efforts. When you create content for a presentation, you likely have about two or three articles you can publish. Use the articles to send to contacts or include them with your newsletter. From those articles, you have several blog posts. Link your blog to your social media, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and get your content out to an even broader audience this year.Post your articles on your website and link to them from your blog. In fact if you just did this one thing and considered where you can leverage all of your efforts, you will see better results.
There are so many reasons why as a service provider you need to have a fully developed profile on LinkedIn. And fully developed means when it is, a pop up will alert you that you are now a ‘rock star’. In addition to being a simple and low maintenance way of keeping in touch with people, it has so many more benefits. Remember this month I decided to fully focus on sharing ways you can find more people who need your services, find more referral sources, and make it easier for them to find you. When you have a well-developed Profile on LinkedIn and someone does a Google search of your name, your LinkedIn profile is likely to rank ahead of your firm or company website profile. If someone Google’s looking for the service you provide (and everyone is doing it now), with a well-developed profile, you are more likely to come up ahead of your competition.
As if that’s not enough to convince you, when you ask your clients to recommend you, others can see that. There is no other marketing tactic better, no amount of money in the world you could throw at marketing yourself that will even come close to having your clients rave about you.
LinkedIn, get on it.
In addition to speaking at conferences and events, putting on educational workshops is another excellent business-building tactic. There are many applications for this. You can offer workshops to current clients as a value-add, and it’s a great way to strengthen your relationship. It’s also and excellent way of building more relationships in your prospects company or organization. One of the reasons I like this tactic so much, is that you’re not asking your contacts for anything. You are providing them with valuable content and knowledge.
Speaking is another way for you to get in front of potential clients or referral sources. The more you can do to make it easier for them to find you, the more successful you will be with your business development efforts. Here’s a few tips to follow:
1. Do your research with your best clients and referral sources to find topics of interest. You can also do this when networking and meeting new people in your target audience.
2. Approach organizers of appropriate events (again, you’ve done your homework and asked you clients and referral sources what do they attend?)
3. Even if you have to go through an RFP process to be chosen to speak, following this advice will increase the likelihood of being chosen.
4. Make sure the organizers sign off on your content. As you work to build a solid reputation as a speaker, they will appreciate this. They don’t like surprises. An added benefit of doing this is that you can walk into the room fully confident that your content will hit the mark.
5. Arrive early and great people as they arrive. Ask them what they would like to take away from your presentation. Get their business card. Now you have a reason to follow-up with them.
6. Do the same thing following your presentation. Some people don’t like to ask questions in front of their peers. Make yourself available to them. Get their business card.
7. Follow-up with the people you’ve met.