Are you running a “feast or famine” practice? If you are overwhelmed with work and have no time to develop business… then when you’re finished with the work at hand there is nothing on the horizon… THAT my friend is a feast or famine practice. And to tell you the truth, I see this with lawyers more often than not. Whether or not you are a solo or work for a huge global firm, not making time for business development has serious consequences.

Forbes Magazine contributor, Kern Lewis documented one small step you can take to create some stability for your practice. His case study is about how he convinced his “old friend and new convert to social media marketing, a lawyer in Northern California named Mark D. Poniatowski who runs a small practice with just a handful of partners.”

Poniatowski was in the midst of a famine…

With the advent of his latest “break” from a heavy work load, he agreed to dedicate the time to test a plan he felt he could manage within the demands of his day:

He chose one online networking tool to test, which was LinkedIn. He spent one hour cleaning up his profile. He spent about three hours reaching out to all the people he knew professionally, and connecting to those whom he found on LinkedIn. He set a thirty-minute appointment for a late weekday evening each week to work on building up his network of contacts, and engaging that network via pings and content sharing.

Results came within a couple of weeks: Many connection invitations came right back with social conversations, and were happy to reconnect. A handful had business that they could place with him right away and were “glad he reached out.”

Within those few weeks he had referrals worth $12,000 in billable hours that he would not have had without his 3-5 hour LinkedIn campaign. That represents a 8-10x ROI on the time he dedicated to it.

The pace has calmed since he harvested that low-hanging fruit, but he reaped one other big benefit:

Connecting with distant clients – An international manufacturer and a national food distributor both use Mark for their commercial lease work in California. He can only justify one trip a year to each of their Midwestern headquarters. But, using LinkedIn to follow the people who manage his part of their legal affairs has made the trips much more powerful.

He keeps track of position changes that impact him. He can research key people ahead of each trip. He set up introductions using his current network, and reaches out to the new connections prior to the trip to kick-start the new relationship and make the in-person meetings much more useful.

Here is how Mark sums up his experience: ‘I immediately recognized that I was able to connect with attorneys and clients that I worked with over the years and had lost touch with, so it was actually a fun exercise. Some of them were good friends as well and we’ve since gone to lunch. I think that the business generation aspect has been a natural fallout of reconnecting and will increase. I did find that the best LinkedIn for me is during the commercials while watching sports!’

It takes commitment and focus to create results. I think this was a brilliant move for this small firm. Now imagine if all 5 of his colleagues did the same. Would he multiply his results by 5? Maybe or maybe not, but certainly they could expect 3-4 times the result.

I believe every professional should have a well thought through LinkedIn profile. What condition is yours in? Could you implement a strategy  like Poniatowski’s? Certainly you could… and if you are sick and tired of running a feast or famine practice, this could help you break the cycle.

If you would like to discuss this a little more in-depth shoot me an email!

 

Last week I made a speech about making a speech. I first asked the audience to raise their hands if they give speeches on a regular basis, how many do it occasionally, how many lead meetings, how many share their expertise with their colleagues and clients. As you can imagine more and more hands were raised until it was everyone in the room… because we all share our expertise with our colleagues and clients. So even though “giving a speech” may sound intimidating, most of us practice the basics each and every day. Speaking is a powerful tool for business development, and here are 7 key strategies to make you more effective (or help you get started!)

  1.  Can you simply share? We do it everyday, but when we think of delivering a speech we elevate it to lofty academic pearls. Yes, there are times that would be appropriate but most of the time it can simply be the act of sharing what you know, as you do every single day.
  2. Is your message clear? Make sure your message is crystal clear. Get rid of acronyms and insider terms.
  3. Does your audience care about this topic? If not find a connection that will make them care or pick another topic. Just because you think they NEED to know about this topic doesn’t mean they care.
  4. Be a storyteller. Tell a compelling story that will resonate with your audience. This is the best way to be memorable.
  5. Repetition, repetition, repetition! Get in front of an audience again and again. The more you speak the better you’ll be, and the better you are the more fun you’ll have, and the more fun you are having, the more your audience will engage with you and your message!
  6. You can do it your way. There are many ways to be a successful speaker… so do it YOUR way. Do what feels comfortable, if you have a great sense of humor… use it.
  7. Strive to be real… not perfect! I’ve saved the most important for last. REAL trumps perfect every time. An audience wants to see you, not a performance.

Here is a great TED Talk by Joe Kowan, How I Beat Stage Fright, that will engage, inspire and make you laugh!

I bet you think I have LOST it! THE INTERNET? What would YOU give up to stay connected to the internet? The internet has profoundly changed our daily lives – just think about how you did business or conducted your personal affairs just a short ten years ago?  Fast Company ran an article by Mark WilsonWhat Americans would give up for the internet: Alcohol, Exercise, Showers, Sex. He discusses a study done by Boston Consulting Group on the internets importance in our daily lives. Mark asks…

How important is the internet to us, really?

Things get really interesting… when you start asking people what they would give up to keep the Internet in their lives. 73% of Americans say they’d give up alcohol. 43% would give up exercise. And 21% would give up sex. (Is that high or low? Depends, I guess, on your own answer.) Just 10% would give up a car, which hints that most Americans would rather have a car than be celibate. America!

However, the more interesting point (to me) is that our perceived value of the Internet is highly inflated. Americans see the services worth about $3,000 a year. (As a telecommuter for half a decade, I’d go even higher with that figure.) But what’s the Internet really worth, in terms of its cost? $472/year. So we’re all basically getting a 650% return on investment. 

What does this mean to lawyers and business development? No matter how you slice it… the internet drives a great deal of what we do and how we interact with our colleagues, as evidenced by what we would give up if we couldn’t.  So I ask you… are you just using it for email, research and keeping time? OR are you leveraging it for business development purposes? Are you blogging? Are your articles accessible via the internet? Are you in touch with clients on Linkedin? I must caution you that this DOES NOT include directories with name rank and serial number… these directories have little (if any) business development value.

Business development is a journey and every day you waste… you will be that much further behind. It’s time to fully embrace the power of the internet and leverage the visibility it can offer – what are you waiting for?  

 

What could you imagine to be the biggest and most powerful business card you can carry? I bet you thought of those giant checks that non-profits produce as a photo op with their donors… come on tell the truth! You know those checks that take 4 people to hold? Now you have the picture? Well… that’s not it! 

The biggest and most powerful business card is a book… yes a book! I have been advising clients for 20 years… "Write a book, it gives you instant credibility." That statement has never been truer. With e-books and on-demand printing it makes it easier than ever to produce a book. In addition distribution is no longer a challenge, and the channels are global. If someone had told me years ago that I would sell books in Africa, Spain, Canada, Argentina or Australia… I would have thought they were smoking something. But, today it is true. The world is small when it comes to content distribution and books are no exception.

Here are six reasons lawyers should consider writing a book…

1. You will become known as an expert in your practice area… without using the word expert as some State Bars prohibit.

2. You will build credibility… without bragging. It is a way to let potential clients understand how you think.

3. It is a competitive advantage… when "you have written the book on it"... chances are the competition can’t say the same.

4. It will increase your visibility… when you are distributed on Amazon, you have a global reach. And everything you do to promote the book will increase your visibility.

5. It will get you invitations to speak and be interviewed… when you speak on your practice area you are perceived as an authority.

6. Last but not least, it will make your Momma proud… just ask mine. I took her to Washington DC with me when I received the 2006 Business Breakthrough Book of the Year. It was fun and yes, she was proud.

Okay… it goes without saying that you need to write a good book that your target audience wants to read and filled with valuable information they can understand. There are a few formats that can help you create a book in no time.

1. The Question and Answer Format – What questions do clients ask you? Make a list and it will become the outline for your book.

2. The Most Common Mistakes Format – I’m sure you already have a long list of things you tell your clients…  "NEVER DO". 

3. The Collection of Stories Format – I know that some of you don’t talk about your cases or transactions… you don’t think others would be interested…. but I want to tell you, as I have said many times, story telling helps people remember what you do and how you do it. 

4. A Collection of Your Blog Posts or Articles Format – This one is really easy… just re-purpose your content.

This, my friends is THE biggest and most powerful business card I have… and I have THREE (working on my fourth.) Believe me if they were not powerful business development tools… do you think I would be working on my fourth? To be successful you have to invest in business development and I will tell you books are a long term investment that will pay off… if done right.