10 Ways Lawyers Can Find Time to Market

When lawyers fail to market, time (lack thereof) is often mentioned as the primary reason. The pressure to do billable work will usually trump investing time in developing new clients. The long term danger of this approach, though, is that by not purposefully pursuing new clients who meet pre-selected criteria, the attorney and the firm fall into slack client acceptance standards. By taking a more progressive position, one is empowered to churn some bottom rung clients in favor of a stronger client list. Yet, the challenge of where to find the time persists.

Sally Schmidt is a national leader in law firm marketing and shared some principles of better time management for client development in a recent article. What you will find below are slight revisions of her list, with some added commentary.

  1. Follow your professional passion. Instead of trying to do marketing in a niche that does not interest you, identify what you most enjoy and find organizations that serve that niche. Once you find the right organizations, research different ways you can become actively involved.
  2. Cultivate synergy. Most attorneys do marketing in either isolation or cliques. Instead of going to a meeting by yourself or attending but hanging out with people from work, find someone strategic with whom you can participate. Whether it is serving on a committee, writing an article, or making a presentation together, you should consider inviting a prospect or center of influence who may also have an interest in the organization to join you.
  3. Explore overlaps. An overlap occurs when one activity performed in one setting complements a desire to be involved in something else. Schmidt gives the example of a construction attorney who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity or similar nonprofits tied into the industry served by one’s section.
  4. Integrate marketing into life! Whether you are pursuing a hobby or hanging out with friends, it is easy to deepen your connection with your targets if you intentionally invite them to join you. (Or, find out what they are into and join them–if it fits your interests as well.)
  5. Develop and follow a plan. Set goals for activities like entertaining clients, writing articles or client alerts, or meetings with new prospects.
  6. Be consistent. As the saying goes, “the race belongs not to the swift, but the persistent.” Starting well, with enthusiasm is good. Finishing what has been started through self-discipline is better.
  7. Choose what to pursue. Instead of just taking any and all opportunities that come your way, be choosy. Establish criteria as to what–or who–you are targeting, why, and in what ways. When considering whether to pursue an “opportunity,” remember that many requests are not strategic for you to honor.
  8. Chunk your time. Put marketing and client development activities on your calendar like you would an appointment with a doctor–not easily changed unless rescheduled. Set aside days of the week, and/or times of day to focus on marketing and client development. Break down projects into tasks that can be accomplished in one sitting.
  9. Lead! Don’t just be a participant in an organization. Look for the chance to serve or head a committee, be on the podium as speaker or facilitator, or take a board role. You’ll get more “bang for the buck” with your time.
  10. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert. If you get the opportunity to speak, or write, tell people about it. Work with your marketing folks to get you some recognition via website, press release, microblog, or LinkedIn updates.

You can be a better marketer as you learn how to overcome the time objection and become intentional about your activities.

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Is LinkedIn a Tool of Choice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the raving about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, the redheaded stepchild is often LinkedIn. Too few business folks know how to make good use of this powerful tool. Some have a profile because they have been told it is a good idea. Others, because they have heard it is a good job search tool. Yet, there are so many ways that LinkedIn can help you become a better marketer.

As the leading social media tool aimed at business executives, LinkedIn boasts 150 million users. As indicated in the infographic, most users subscribe only to the free version, with only about 8% who use the paid version with additional bells & whistles. Much has been written about the almost addictive level of engagement social networks enjoy; 12% of LinkedIn users spend 5-6 hours a week on the system, 26% are moderately engaged at 3-4 hours/week, and about 48% fall into the 0-2 hours category.

When people use a social media tool, one of the primary motivators is to connect and network. However, about 30% of subscribers have 100 connections or less. Another 30% have 300 or more; approximately 40% have between 100 and 300. While we could get into a point/counterpoint discussion for hours on the value of quality versus quantity of contacts, that conversation would seem to apply only to the choice of LinkedIn strategy between the two groups with the largest number of connections. The larger question looms as to why some, claiming that they have created a profile on LinkedIn in order to connect, have only made 100 connections or less.

Among favorite features, the Groups capability ranks highest, followed by the ability to search for people and the ability to be reminded of people we may know. Again, of those who join groups, fully 45% are members of 10 groups or less. It is important here to distinguish between members and participants. Most who are not “power users” of LinkedIn do not make the most of the Groups feature. By choosing not to read and respond to discussion board posts, the user decreases the value of the tool to themselves. When someone does use the search or people known features, they may not take the next step and ask for an introduction by someone who is able to help build the “triangle of trust” to the targeted contact.

The ways that LinkedIn has been most helpful to subscribers are numerous, but the top three are:

  1. Researching people and companies
  2. Reconnecting with past associates
  3. Networking to find prospects

If it is not your habit of using LinkedIn for these important business functions, you are missing out on a great opportunity. LinkedIn is a tool of choice for those who understand its value. For it to become powerful for you, learn it better and explore ways to make the features work for you.

Too Much? Technology Intrusion @SXSW

The Washington Post, reporting from Austin, provided coverage of South by Southwest 2012. While there were certainly gadgets galore, applications abounding, and technology that teased, today’s article brought up the premise that technology threatens the fabric of our relationships. The intrusion of interruptive “advances” can overwhelm the brain, says Amber Case, a cyborg anthropologist.

Avi Zev Weider offered a documentary for screening, “Welcome to the Machine,” that attempted to ask the question of how inter-human relationships are compromised. Similar to the Matrix film series, there was a strong undercurrent that the network is not always our friend and we need downtime, to unplug and be human and regenerate.

How does this vein of thought factor into our office environments? The tyranny of emails, interoffice communications, tweets, posts, etc can overwhelm even the most resolute worker. I’ve been in many businesses wherein the employees–even department heads–are afraid to walk away from their desks for fear that they may receive a communication to which they do not have the opportunity to respond in real time.

There is something inherently wrong with being captive to the powerful tools that were created–ostensibly–to make our lives better. In working with employees in a number of companies, I have given the employees permission to work strategically on projects, check their messages according to a predetermined schedule, and enjoy the resulting focus, clarity, and peace of mind.

In my own life, it can be harder to set the smartphone down when I know someone may try to communicate with me. The Tweets, email messages on my work email, emails on my home email, text messages from family & friends, alerts that I’ve set up to keep the day flowing, blog updates, LinkedIn updates, etc just keep rolling in and it can be soooo seductive to allow the flow to determine my pace and disposition.

What can we collectively do? Simple, purposeful choices can break the habitual “checking in” that can be so distracting. Determine when you will pick up your cell–make it less frequent than you’ve been observing. Schedule email reading and response time. Most importantly–schedule “think” and “rest” times. Without them, our collective quality of life, contentment on and off the job, and health–physical and emotional–will all suffer.

Business “Bracketology”

With the conference basketball tournaments in full swing, and the NCAA about to begin, hype about what teams will make it and which ones will stay home abounds. Not only do sport networks go into hyper-drive as “March Madness” begins, but the enthusiasm spreads to water cooler conversations, lunchroom TVs, frequent score checking on smart phones and computer screens, and office “pools” where real money can be made with a small entry fee.

The schedule for the 68-team tournament is depicted in the form of a master bracket, with four regional brackets that produce winners through single elimination games who eventually play one another in the Final Four and, ultimately, the two team national championship game. (Sorry for the details, but they are pertinent to the business world as will be discussed below.) The projections as to which teams will make the tournament, and their “seeding” (#1-16 in each region, with a four team play-in “First Four”) has been described as the “bracketology” process. Prognosticators great and small try to anticipate who will be selected for the tournament, who will make the Final Four, etc.

In the business world, companies develop marketing strategies that result in targeted prospects, hopeful “finalists,” and “winners.” It can be argued that the process of identifying prospects, analyzing the likelihood that they will matriculate through a given business development process, and ultimately become customers is strenuous in top sales organizations, yet chaotic in others. What type of approach does your organization take?

Are you a part of a company that waits for the phone to ring from random sources, or do you target those from whom you’d like receive new business? Adding intentionality to the mix can yield championship caliber results. Some things to consider:

  • Prepare a list of your best customers
  • Pull your team together and think about what makes them best
  • Brainstorm about other companies that are similar to your “best” list
  • Use databases to help you flesh the lists out
  • Incorporate the principal of six degrees of separation to determine who knows whom inside the target companies
  • LinkedIn may be helpful in building the relationship bridges
  • Analyze commonalities among subgroups of the list and build marketing plans for each subgroup
  • Assess performance against plan and determine how to increase the number of prospects that become customers

Hopefully, your bracketology will be more accurate than the NCAA prediction process!