Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
To kick off 2018 I’ve created a new LinkedIn Group-Professional Services Marketing Group.
The purpose is twofold. 1st, to offer a forum where professional service providers can share insights and knowledge, wins and challenges as they grow their businesses. There is power in collective wisdom.
The 2nd goal of this group is to allow you to network ‘virtually’ with other professionals; build relationships and develop more referrals.
The concept of the ‘Mastermind Group’ comes from author Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich”, published in the early part of the last century. I’ve always loved the concept and many of my clients have and continue to use this strategy to grow their businesses.
And then invite your best referral sources and contacts to join. The more members, the more collective wisdom and the potential to build more relationships leading to more referrals, leading to more business.
#businesscoach #mastermindgroup #growyourbusiness
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.
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.
I know this is a real challenge for some of you to balance your own lawyering, with leading your team and rainmaking. There is no one-size fits all formula for how much time you spend on each area. But think about where you are most valuable.
If you are relatively new to growing your firm a good model for your time would look like 50% lawyering, 30% Rainmaking and 20% leading. As you grow, that number should look more like 50% Rainmaking, 30% leading and 20% lawyering. In order to grow you have to leverage your time and allocate it where it will produce maximum results.
You should also be leveraging your people as much as possible. Depending on you and how much of the day-to-day lawyering you want to stick with will determine if that lawyering % gets even lower. That leads me into the next section nicely.
Another sure-fire way to ensure you are getting more referral clients is to go the extra mile in your service delivery. Be as flexible to your clients’ need as possible.Provide them with samples or case studies of past work to help them understand the process. Make sure that if you’re not available at any given time, that someone on your team is. Never leave your clients hanging in their time of crisis. Do whatever you can to deliver the best possible service.
I’ve said this many times, but what makes your clients happier even more than your ‘lawyer’ skills, is your approach to service. Always remember, at the core, you are a service provider.And that is what will stand out for your clients just as much if not more than your lawyering ability. Another value-added approach, especially if your clients are business people, is making introductions for them to your vast network. Help them grow their business.
Many of you already build relationships with other lawyers as a referral source. But think about all of the other professionals that would have access to, or be in front of the people you are targeting as clients. They could be accountants, financial planners, real estate agents, contractors, hair stylists, personal fitness trainers, and so on. It will vary depending on your practice of course. Build your network with diversity. For example, build relationships with real estate agents that target different groups or geographical locations. The same goes for all of the professionals in your network.
Then be sure to reciprocate. You will build a much more loyal following by sending them referrals as well. Another reason you want to build diversity into your network, to make it easier for you to refer clients or leads back to them.
Reward the people who refer people to you with a personalized gift. It could be a gift card to their favorite restaurant, or tickets to a show or sporting event. You will stand out and they will think of you more often. Write a handwritten thank-you card to go along with your gift.
Work with your clients from the very beginning and set up realistic expectations. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. It’s better so say no, then to say yes and not get it done. Walk them through the variables and educate them on the process as much as possible. They will really appreciate it. Remember, you’ve done this a million times. This could be their first time going through the process. Depending on the nature of the file or the work you are doing for them, they could be going through a very tough time. Don’t underestimate the discomfort they may feel, the level of uncertainty. This isn’t about your ‘lawyer’ skills. This is about your ‘people’ skills and level of service which will go a long way in separating you from your competition and providing more potential referrals.
The easiest way to get more referrals is from your clients. The fastest way to do this is to ensure they are completely happy with your service. In my opinion, that starts with effective communication. One of the top complaints lawyers get from clients is that they don’t communicate often enough and make assumptions. Communication is at the heart of your service to your clients. So get agreement from the very beginning on how often and by which method your clients would like you to communicate with them. And also explain, the more that communication is required, this will add to the cost of your services.
The next thing I recommend, is to give your clients permission to give you feedback throughout your dealings with them. Your clients might be intimidated by you and not want to point something out when it’s relatively small. And you want to know if something isn’t quite to their liking so you can fix it in that moment before it grows and festers to the point where they don’t want to pay their bill. Often when mistakes are made, it’s not the mistake that people remember. it’s how quickly and effectively the mistake is corrected or reversed.
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.
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.