As I am a business coach, this post is focused on your business relationships. However, you could easily take these tips and apply them to your personal relationships as well.
Before you take the time away from your practice and go to the expense of attending that new conference, look at your contact list. Who should you be investing more time with? Current clients? Past clients? Friends from Law School? Other colleagues and connections?
I’m not saying don’t go to that conference or sponsor that event, or take that add out. But focus on your current relationships before you take on anything new this year. No matter where you are in your career, you have relationships. Sure, if you are relatively junior, you may have less, but you have them.
I see far too often where lawyers want to push the ‘easy button’. They think simply throwing money at their marketing and business development efforts will produce results. It makes them feel good like they are doing ‘something’. News flash-there is no easy way, no easy button-thanks Staples! Building your practice or firm takes time-your time! My suggestion is to focus 80% of all of your business-building efforts this year on strengthening the relationships you already have.
Pick up the phone. Send an email. Go for coffee, lunch, a drink (or juice), lunch or dinner. Take your best client(s) to a special event. Connect, re-connect and keep connecting!
At the core of business development or growing your practice or firm is relationships.
Relationships with current clients.
Relationships with past clients.
Relationships with your referral sources.
And relationships you build along the way as you meet new people
Here is a simple QUESTION you should be ASKING YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN ANY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ACTION:
“Is this action going to enhance a current relationship and move it forward, or is this action going to get me in front of new quality people with whom I should build a relationship with? If the answer is no-don’t do it! If the answer is yes-do it, and find ways to do more of it.”
I happen to be a big fan of keeping things simple. That’s a really good question to always ask yourself before investing any time or money into marketing and business development to grow your practice or firm.
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!
Due out September 24, 2014 from Carswell is my second book aimed at helping lawyers and law firms grow. In this edition I take you through my proprietary methodology TST™, Targeted, Strategic and Tactical. Working with Lawyers these past nine years I developed systems and processes allowing you to get more clients with less time invested. When you become more targeted, strategic and tactical in your approaches, you will see better results.
There are two editions, one for lawyers at large firms, and one for lawyers in small firms. The small firm edition includes an entire chapter aimed at law firm leaders wishing to grow the firm. It includes:
- Becoming more effective as a leader
- Balancing Lawyering, leading, and rainmaking
- Engaging your entire team in business development
- Compensation models to reward your people and incentivise them to achieve
- Succession planning
If you are looking to grow your firm or practice, this book is a must read. You can pre-order it online from Carswell. Just follow this link. http://www.carswell.com//product-search/?qa=prod&qt=Raindance
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.