It's no surprise that 61% of law firms consider their firm either average or below average in business development, according to a new LexisNexis survey. The #1 challenge for law firms is to get lawyers to participate in bringing in new business.
There is a 6-step solution, and it begins with becoming a rainmaker yourself, and then showing your colleagues how you do it. It's not that complicated, but it does take effort.
I went from being a newcomer in my community to a well-known figure and sought-after speaker by working my personal 6-step plan. Results didn't happen overnight -- I devoted myself to it deliberately for a year.
Here's how I did it.
- Start writing a blog and develop a following. It's true that the more you blog, the more clients you will get. See https://goo.gl/8FXKA6. The purpose of a blog is to introduce you to new referral sources and clients, and to demonstrate your expertise. You should update your blog at least two to three times per week, and every now and then write a comprehensive blog post 2,000-3,000 words long.
- Join an organization of clients. Your goal is to be a visible leader of the group. This means going to all the meetings and becoming a regular, not just someone warming a seat. Target leadership roles like newsletter editor or program director, which are great techniques to meet everyone in the organization. Offer to write an article or organize a program as a way for people to get to know you. Ask the president if there is a chore you can do for the group; this leader will likely reward you with an invitation to be on the board of directors. Everybody in the group knows the board of directors.
- Volunteer and do favors for people. Beginning humbly, I offered to take minutes at meetings and this grew into writing articles on my blog about the meetings to promote the organization. I volunteered my home as a place to host events. During membership drives, I recruited new members. Whenever someone needed an introduction or a ride to a meeting, I happily did the favor. I deepened relationships with current and past leaders, asking about their grandchildren and what they did for fun. I made sure to get people's contact information, and sent them personal notes and “good to see you” emails. Now when I walk into a room, everybody knows my name.
- Teach. I began attending classes at the University of Arizona and to my delight, was invited to teach an adult class. I started out with 15 students. The word got out about my class and I built the enrollment up to 40 students. Recently, the university invited me to teach an additional weekend edition of the class to accommodate all the new applicants. Meanwhile, I also taught CLE programs for the State Bar of Arizona. I had made friends with the CLE manager, who was thrilled to have a reliable presenter. This has directly led to new business.
- Start an e-newsletter. I made a point of collecting the contact information of all my university and state bar students, many of whom were prominent doctors, lawyers, and professors in the community. They formed the basis of an email list that I distribute with MailChimp. I added in the names of business contacts I made over time, and the list now totals hundreds of people across the city. Every weekend, my contacts get a simple text newsletter that begins with my meeting reports and the most popular stories on my blog. The rest of the newsletter is a handy list of local events and activities that I know my readers are interested in. Each newsletter contains a link to where anyone can subscribe, and the list grows by 2-3 real people a week.
- Speaking engagements. As a result of all this sincere spadework, I was invited to speak at my own group, as well as other organizations in the city. I never turn down an invitation, no matter how small the group is, because the organizers have email lists themselves to report on my talks. I'm not a fabulous speaker, but I am reliable and always work to be informative. This led to a local talk radio personality to have me on his program several times. The host liked my commentary and as a result the station invited me to host my own daily program starting in October.
Why did this work? My purpose was never self-aggrandizement. Nobody likes a hustler who is out for himself. Instead, I made a premeditated effort to make friends and develop personal relationships. My aim was to build good word-of-mouth so that other people would say positive things about me. As a result, I've brought in the top 3 clients of LawLytics.com, got a paying project helping a professor market a book, work with an attorney to develop her personal brand, and edit the attorney news site News.Law.
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