How to win friends and influence clients

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You may be a good writer, a good speaker, and a good advocate, but an even more valuable skill is to be good with people.

In a one-on-one setting, when you meet someone new, when a prospect calls, or when sitting with a new client, being able to make people feel good about themselves and about you is one of the most valuable skills there is.

How do you acquire that skill, or improve on it if you’re already good with people? You can read books (like, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”). You can hire a coach. And you can make a conscious effort to observe your interactions with others and work on improving them. But one of the best ways to become a more charming and likable person is to watch how other people do it.

Find people who are good with people and spend time with them. Observe them. Listen to them. Watch their body language, absorb their language, and soak up their energy. Note what they do to put a smile on other people’s faces. And then model their behavior.

Use what you’ve learned from people who have the “people gene”.

I can attest to the value of doing this because I have surrounded myself with people who are good with people and it has allowed me to change my wicked ways. People used to tell me I was “intimidating” and “hard to know”. Now they say I’m “approachable,” “friendly,” and “nice”.

Nice? Me? That’s embarrassing. How about if we just say that I’m not as mean as I use to be?

Earn more, work less. Here’s the plan

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Put your passion on your todo list

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When you wake up in the morning and think about your work and your life, what do you look forward to? What puts a smile on your face? What excites you?

Whatever it is, that’s what you should focus on. If you can do it, do it. Otherwise, think about it during the day. Make plans for it. Study it. Talk about it. Because whatever it is that excites you is at the heart of your creativity and growth.

Earl Nightingale said, “The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.”

Most people spend most of their day dealing with the mundane, fixing problems, and taking care of responsibilities. They make a life for themselves but neglect the things that make life worth living.

Some say we can’t build a life around our passions, that the realities of the world make that impossible for all but a privileged few. I say that while we might not be able to have the life of our dreams today, we can start working on it today, and thus unlock the energy that fuels our journey.

And that’s what life is, really. A journey. We may never reach the destination, but if we have something we’re excited about to keep us company, we can have one helluva ride.

Get more referrals and increase your income: here’s how

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You’re making things harder than they need to be

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As lawyers, one of our strengths is our ability to reason. Our strength, however, can also be a weakness because we often think too much and do too little and it is the doing, not the thinking, that brings results.

A key to doing more is to make things simpler. Break up big decisions, difficult tasks, and complicated projects into smaller components. Then, start with the easiest parts because starting is the most important element in doing.

As you begin, a good question to ask yourself is one posed by writer Alan Cohen: “How would I be doing this differently if I were willing to let it be easy?”

Among other things, letting it be easy means letting go of the need to avoid all risks and control all outcomes.

Stop making things harder than they need to be. Get out of the way and let them be easy.

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Putting practice into the practice of law

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I saw a video recently by a woman who decided to take up the violin and wanted to record her progress. As you might expect, her first efforts sounded like a cat being tortured.

She chronicled her journey with additional videos and it was amazing to see her improvement. Within a few months, she was playing decently. Within six months, she was a good amateur. At the two-year mark, when the video ended, she had made remarkable progress and was able to play reasonably sophisticated pieces.

Even though she started as an adult, which is said to be more difficult, with regular practice, she was able to acquire a new skill. She’s taking lessons now and who knows how far she might go.

Earl Nightingale said, “One extra hour of study per day and you’ll be a national expert in five years or less.” Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

What new skills do you want to acquire? What do you want to get better at? With enough practice, you might be amazed at what you can do.

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Feel the fear and DON’T do it

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Many say that the way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Do what you fear long enough, they tell us, and you will eventually conquer that fear.

There are others who say otherwise.

One group of philosophers say that instead of making ourselves do something that makes us uncomfortable, we should heed the feeling. “Never move forward in fear,” they say.

Who’s right?

Should we brace ourselves in the face of fear and soldier on? We know this works. If you fear public speaking, for example, but force yourself to do it enough, you often overcome the fear and are better for it.

But facing your fears can also make you miserable. For every one time we think, “I’m glad I stuck with it,” there might be three times when we think, “I never want to do that again!” Isn’t there a way to accomplish the deed without the pain?

The folks who say, “Never move forward in fear,” say there is. They say we can (and should) eliminate the fear first, or at least dilute it enough so that we aren’t bothered by it, and then take action. They also say that doing it this way will allow you to do the task more easily and get better results. You can speak without trembling knees and sweat dripping down your face.

Sounds good to me. But how? How do we dissipate the fear?

Therapy? Hypnosis? A stiff drink or two?

The philosophers who recommend this path suggest that you guide how you feel about the activity by changing your thoughts about it. “Reach for a thought that feels better,” they say. Keep doing that until the fear is all but gone.

So maybe you think, “I’m not going to have a heart attack and die on stage”. Marginally better thought, yes?

Then you think, “It’s only twenty minutes. I can get through this.” Relaxing a little. Feeling a little better.

“I have something worthwhile to say.” Yes, you do. And the audience wants to hear it.

“Actually, it’s a friendly crowd.” Feeling better and better.

“Once I get past the first few words, I’ll be okay”. That’s the ticket.

And so on. Little by little, thought by thought, you think your way to feeling better and better until the fear is all but gone.

I’ve done this before and it works. It takes a little practice, but it’s not difficult.

Anyway, you don’t have to feel the fear and do it anyway, you can remove the fear and feel good about it.

Try it. Find something you know would be good for you but you’ve been putting off because of fear. Change your thoughts about it, little by little, until the fear is gone or at least completely under control. And then do it.

Your mind is powerful. It created your fears and it can be used to eliminate them.

Afraid to ask for referrals? This shows you how to get them without asking

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Don’t wonder what will happen next, decide what happens next

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Life is a series of decisions. You decide on your career path, your school, your job, your first client and your next. This morning you decided which suit to wear, what to eat for breakfast, and what time to leave for work.

You decided which file to work on first, which message to return first, and what to work on after that.

Most of the decisions you make are not very important or difficult to make. Some are critically important and gut wrenching.

But everything is a decision. Letting a boss, a parent, or a spouse decide for you is a decision. Leaving your fate to God is a decision. Not making a decision is a decision.

Things will happen that you couldn’t have anticipated. But when they do, you decide how to respond.

It’s your life and you get to decide what happens next. As someone put it, “Don’t wonder what will happen next, decide what happens next”.

Don’t let the immensity of your power overwhelm you. You don’t need to plan out the rest of your life or even the rest of the year. You only need to decide what’s next.

When you’re done reading this, what will you do?

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What are you, chicken?

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What are you afraid of? C’mon, you know there are things you should be doing to grow your practice that you don’t do because of fear.

You don’t ask clients to help you, for example, because you’re afraid of appearing weak. You don’t approach prospective clients at a networking event because you’re afraid of rejection. You don’t delegate enough of your work because you’re afraid nobody can do the job as well as you.

You can overcome your fears if you want to. The first step is to imagine yourself doing the thing you fear.

See yourself clicking the button and sending your clients an email asking them to forward it to a friend, or to share your new post with their social media contacts.

See yourself in the physical act of doing the thing you fear and you will be on your way to overcoming that fear.

The second step is to imagine the results. See yourself getting new clients as a result of your email, and see the big smile on your face as you realize that you made that happen.

Nice.

Now, the third step. Do the thing. Send the email, make the call, talk to the person.

Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

At first, your knees may tremble. You may need to hoist a pint or two. You may do it poorly. But you can do it, at least once, and if you can do it once you can do it again.

Eventually, your fear will either be completely gone or so diminished that you can do the thing at will.

Now, here’s the thing. The things we fear are often the very things we need to be doing. The things that allow us to grow quickly and reach our full potential. So don’t ignore your fears. Hear their message. Acknowledge their value. And then show them who’s boss.

How to get your clients to send you referrals

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Developing the marketing habit

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When an activity become a habit, it becomes automatic; you do it without thinking about it. Eventually, through repetition, you get better at it and you get better results.

That’s true of the exercise habit, the reading habit, and the marketing habit.

In James Clear’s recent article, The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time, he offers some observations about developing new habits, based on research:

1. You are 2x to 3x more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it. This is known as an implementation intention.

2. You should focus entirely on one habit. Research has found that implementation intentions do not work if you try to improve multiple habits at the same time.

3. Research has shown that any given habit becomes more automatic with more practice. On average, it takes at least two months for new habits to become automatic behaviors.

Conclusion: it’s best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

I have long preached the value of working on marketing every day for 15 minutes. I’ve said that you should schedule those minutes in your calendar as an appointment and keep that appointment. I’ve said, “you can use that time to do anything related to marketing, even if you’re only reading about it or thinking and making notes”.

But Clear suggests that you have a specific plan for working on your new habit. Is doing “anything related to marketing” specific enough?

When you are first establishing the habit, I think it is. Blocking out the time and doing something every day is the new habit. Being able to do anything gives you the flexibility to be bad before you get good.

Once the 15-minute habit is firmly a part of your routine, however, your plan should become more specific.

If you want to develop the habit of finding and reaching out to professionals with whom you can network, for example, work on that during your 15 minutes.

And only that.

Clear’s other points tell us to work on one new habit only, for at least two months. Once you have established your new habit, you can move onto others.

When I committed to writing daily emails, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now it is automatic. It’s a part of me. I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.

My new habit has paid me many dividends, so, once you have developed your 15-minute marketing habit, if you’re looking for another habit to work on, you might want to work on writing.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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You don’t know what you don’t know

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New computer arrived and it’s faster than hell. I had no idea that apps and sites and pages could load that fast.

The hard drive is faster, the processor is faster, and it has twice the RAM. I’m sure being new also has something to do with it.

The last time I saw this happen was the last time I got a new computer. “So this is how the rest of the world lives,” I thought.

Anyway, this isn’t about why you should consider replacing your old equipment with something new. It’s about not knowing what you’re missing in your life until you actually experience it.

Like the first time you hire someone who is really good at their job. I once hired a temp who was so fast and competent I begged her to work for me full time. She didn’t, but she set the standard for everyone who followed.

Or the client who is scared to death to hire a lawyer and finds out you’re not scary and you can truly can help them and they are so relieved they want to cry.

We don’t know what we don’t know and the only way to find out is to try a lot of things.

When it comes to marketing and practice management, read everything you can get your hands on and try as many things as time permits. One idea, one technique, one tool, one contact, could change everything.

But you’ll never know unless you try.

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The hidden cost of every decision

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Every decision you make–big ones like whether to go to med school or law school, to little ones like whether to work on the Smith case this morning or work on marketing instead–require an investment of time, energy, money, and mental focus.

You consciously or unconsciously calculate these costs, along with the possible return on your investment.

But there’s a good chance you are omitting something from your calculation. It’s a cost that most people don’t think about, but should, because it might be your biggest cost. Deciding to make that investment might also result in a much bigger payoff.

It’s called the “opportunity cost”–what you give up by taking on project A, for example, when you could instead use that time, money, and energy, to do project B.

Project A might require less time. But when you factor in the cost of losing the benefits of project B, you might decide project B is the better choice.

Savvy investors understand the need to calculate the opportunity cost of their investment decisions, and so must we.

Of course we must also consider the opportunity cost of turning down one project in favor of another. I’ve turned down invitations to speak because I had other things I could do that offered a better return. But in so doing, I lost the opportunity to get my name in front of new people, which, long term, might have had the bigger payoff.

Every decision to do something includes a decision to not do something else.

Look at your task list and see what you have flagged to do next. Ask yourself what you might be giving up if you do it. But also consider what you might be giving up if you don’t.

You invested a few minutes reading this post, minutes that could have been spent reading something else or doing something else. Did your investment pay off? Was it worth it to be reminded about the importance of considering the opportunity costs of your decisions?

If it was, then I made the right decision to write about it.

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