Thank you for reading this

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I don’t know about you but I get annoyed with people who don’t say thank you. As a kid, the importance of saying please and thank you was drilled into my head. Today, I wouldn’t dream of forgetting my manners.

I expect others to be equally polite and appreciative. When they aren’t, I notice.

Saying thank you isn’t just good manners. It’s also good for business, and for our personal relationships.

When you say thank you, you make the other person feel appreciated. As a result, they are more likely to like you because you made them feel better about themselves.

Saying thank you also makes it more likely that someone will continue doing whatever it is they did to earn your appreciation. When someone sends you a referral, for example, telling them thank you, and meaning it, makes it more likely that they will send more referrals.

Saying thank you also makes you look good. Good manners suggest good upbringing. It makes you appear considerate, mature, and trustworthy.

Saying thank you is especially powerful when you do it for someone who was simply doing their job. If I hire you and pay you, we’ve had a fair exchange. Still, I will go out of my way to say thank you for a job well done.

Finally, saying thank you makes you feel good about yourself. When you put a smile on someone’s face and tell them you recognize what they did and appreciate it, it doesn’t get any better than that.

So thank you for reading this. I appreciate it. (I really do.)

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Who’s your favorite client?

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Quick question: who’s your favorite client?

You know who I mean. The one who pays you big money and hires you more often. The one who sends you lots of referrals, promotes your website, and shares your social media posts. The one who follows your advice and never causes problems.

Bottom line, if you could clone him, you would be one happy camper.

So who is it? What is his or her name?

(I’m going to call him Jim.)

What’s that? You have more than one Jim? Good stuff. You can do this with each of them (and trust me, you’ll want to).

Okay, remember waaaay back where you said you would be happy if you could clone Jim? Let’s see if we can do something like that.

Get Jim on the phone, or you can do this the next time he’s in the office. Tell him he’s one of your favorite clients, that you enjoy working with him and you want to ask him a few questions so you can do a better job for him and your other clients.

Then, interview Jim.

Start off with a few easy questions about his work and family and what he likes to do for fun.

Next, unless you already know, ask him how he went about finding you. Did he find your website? What did he search for? Was he referred? By whom? Did he see an ad, come to a seminar, or meet you at an event?

Then, ask him what he liked best about the work you did for him and how you and your staff treated him.

Write this stuff down. It’s golden.

Once Jim has said some nice things about you, ask him, “What could we do better?”

Next on the list, ask him for the names of a few other professionals he works with and recommends. What does he like best about them? Will he introduce you to them (or would it be okay if you use their name)?

Finally, ask Jim what you can do for him outside of your legal services. What does he need or want? Does he have a problem? Can you send him more business? Help him find a new vendor or employee? Write a college recommendation letter for his oldest? Buy his youngest’s girl scout cookies?

Okay, what have you learned?

You’ve learned how people like your favorite client are finding you. Now you can do more of what’s working and attract more clients like Jim.

You’ve learned what you’re doing well and what you need to improve. This helps you fix anything that needs fixing and do more of what makes you great.

You’ve learned the names of other professionals you can reach out to. You can meet them and start a referral relationship and you also have a high quality professional you can recommend to your other clients.

Finally, you’ve learned what you can do to help Jim. You’ve got something you can do that will make your great relationship with him even better.

Oh yeah, one more thing. When you asked Jim what he liked about you and how you helped him, you can use the nice things he said about you as a testimonial.

After the interview, send Jim a thank you note. Tell him how much you appreciate his help. Maybe enclose a gift card or send a fruit basket.

After that, make sure you continue to let Jim know how important he is to you. Call him, just to say hello. Send him articles he might find helpful or interesting. Give him freebies from time to time. And make sure he hears from you around the holidays, his birthday, and his anniversary.

If you want more clients like Jim, focus on Jim because what we focus on grows.

To learn how to create a profile of your ideal client, get the formula

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Holiday planning for lawyers

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The holidays will soon be upon us. What’s your plan? What will you do to market your services and set things up for a good start to the new year?

What’s that? You don’t have a plan? Thank you for being honest. Grab a piece of paper and write at the top, “My plan for the holidays and beyond”.

First item on the list: “Come up with some ideas”.

Now you have a plan! Not a great plan but way better than no plan. At least you know what you need to do.

Time to put on your thinking cap and visit Uncle Google or Aunt Bing. Do a search for ideas related to the holidays, Christmas cards, year end planning, holiday parties, gift giving, and the like. You’ll come up with a bunch of ideas, most of which you will hate or can’t use, but you might get one or two that work.

Put them on your list.

Now you’re cooking.

What’s that? You want me to suggest something?

Okay. Here’s an idea for you. It’s simple, but very powerful.

Whether or not you plan to send Christmas cards (or some other politically correct variation), write a “year end letter” to your clients. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them how much it means to you to be able to serve them. Say thank you.

Review your practice for the preceding year. Mention important cases or milestones. Mention changes and growth. If there were problems, talk about how you overcame them.

Then, talk about the future. If you have news to announce (an office move, new hire, new practice area, etc.), share this or hint at it if you’re not ready to go public. Tell them how this will positively affect them.

Add a personal comment or two, something about your kids or grand kids, or about something else you do that you are proud of. Give your clients a glimpse into your personal life.

(A glimpse. I’m not saying you need to invite them to the house for dinner.)

At the end, encourage them to contact you with any legal question or issue. You may not handle that type of issue but you know other attorneys you can recommend.

Why write this letter? Because it’s important to say thank you to your clients. You can’t do that enough. When you share your accomplishments for the year and plans for the future, you’re not just saying thank you, you’re showing them what your relationship with them means to you. They matter. You wouldn’t be where you are today without them. They’re not just names in a file folder and billing ledger.

The holidays are a time for giving thanks and this is an effective and memorable way to do that.

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How to write a thank you note

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people used to use a pen to write thank you notes. When someone did something nice for you, or even when you just wanted to acknowledge that you enjoyed meeting them, a hand written note was de rigueur.

Today, not so much. Email is the new standard. Therefore, if you really want to make an impression on someone, take a few extra minutes to write a note, on a note card, and put it in the mail.

What do you say? I found a great article about how to write a thank you note. The author, who sent a gift (books) after his conversation with a subject matter expert who generously gave of her time and information, made sure to include in his note specific details about the conversation and about the expert.

He used a G.R.E.A.T. format:

G stands for Grateful: Express appreciation for the other person’s time or graciousness or other contribution.

R stands for Reference: Tell them what you got out of your conversation –what you learned or what you will remember.

E stands for Explain: He told her he was sending her a book related to the problem their conversation helped him solve.

A stands for Action: If you talked about working together or the next time you might meet, mention this “next step,” but don’t focus on it.

T stands for Thanks: End your note with “thanks again” or something similar, followed by your signature.

You can see the actual note the author sent, using the above points, in the article.

Your thank you notes don’t have to include all of these points, nor are you obligated to send a gift. But when someone does something especially nice for you, such as providing a referral or taking extra time to provide advice, you should do everything you can to acknowledge their help.

Think about the last time you received a heartfelt thank you note. It felt good, didn’t it? Like you made a difference in someone’s life? You make others feel that way when you send them something similar.

Sending a thank you note is not just an act of courtesy, it’s good for business. It makes people remember you and want to see you again or help you again because they know you appreciate them and what they have done.

Thank you for reading this post and sharing it with others.

Marketing is simple. Say please and thank you and in between, try not to mess things up.

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3 ways to leverage every case or client to get your next case or client

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Get a client. Do the work. Look for the next client.

That’s what you do, isn’t it? It’s always been that way. It always will be that way. It’s the circle of life.

Hakuna matata.

You can’t change the process. But you might make it more fruitful. Before you move from one case or client to the next, take a few minutes to reflect on how you can leverage that case or client to expand, enhance, or streamline your practice.

Here are three ways to do that:

TALK ABOUT IT

No matter how routine or boring, there’s always something you can talk about. It could be as simple as saying, “I have a new client who. . .” or, “I just finished a case where. . .” and then sharing a detail or two about your client’s background, industry, occupation, demographic, or niche, as well as their issue and what you did for them.

Talk about your cases and clients in conversations with clients, prospects, and professional contacts. It gives you ways to start a conversation or validate a point being made by someone else. It gives you ways to illustrate points in your presentations. And it allows you to remind people about what you do and for whom you do it without talking about yourself.

WRITE ABOUT IT

Every case and client is a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You should be telling those stories in your blog, newsletter, and articles.

If it’s a great story, feature it. If it’s routine, mention it in connection with other mentions about other cases or clients, e.g., “my last three clients.”

Use these stories to illustrate points in your reports or marketing documents. Or use them as prompts when you don’t know what to write about.

At the end of every case, make a few notes and put them in an idea file. You won’t write about every one but you never know which one might provide you with exactly the idea you need.

THINK ABOUT IT

At the conclusion of every matter, take five minutes and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What can I do better?

By answering these questions, you will almost always find ways to improve your work, your client relations, or your marketing.

There’s one more thing you can do at the end of every case.

Send thank you notes.

To your clients, to expert witnesses, to opposing counsel. Thank them for putting their faith in you, for their help, for their professionalism.

Every case or client presents an opportunity to connect further with someone and set the stage for a deeper relationship. Thank you notes will bring you repeat business, referrals, and a reputation for being someone worth knowing.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients. Here’s The Formula.

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What do you do when the case is over?

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Think of a file you closed in the last thirty days. The work was done, the client was paid or got their final papers, there’s no more work left to do.

What now? What’s your plan?

If you think in terms of “cases” or “files” or “work,” probably not much. You finished what you were hired to do and you were paid. Gotta go find someone else who needs you.

If you think in terms of “clients” and “repeat business” and “referrals,” you’re just getting started.

Your clients are worth far more to you than what they paid you to handle their case or file. Over time, they may be worth 50 times that amount. But if you leave it up to them to come back when they need you again, or refer someone who needs you, you’re making a big mistake.

It’s up to you to stay in touch with your clients, now, at the end of their case, and forever–until you retire or one of you dies.

It’s called “lifetime value,” and many attorneys never see it because once the work is done, so are they.

Call your client: “Do you have any questions?”

Mail to your client: “Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Please fill out this survey and tell us how we did.”

Mail something every month: “Here’s something I thought you would like.”

Most of tomorrow’s business should come from the clients you have right now. Even if those clients never hire you again and never refer a single client, they can help you by sending traffic to your web site, promoting your seminar, or distributing your report or video.

So, when the case file is closed, open another file for the client. You have more work to do.

You need to stay in touch with your clients and let them know you appreciate them. Remind them about the (other) services you offer. Ask them what you can do to help them with anything of a legal nature, or anything else. And once in awhile, ask them to help you by liking your page or forwarding your email to someone they care about.

The work is not difficult and it pays extremely well.

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Is marketing legal services hard work?

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It’s just work. Marketing, that is. And it’s not hard, really. Compared to the rest of what you do, how hard is it to make a few calls or write a few emails?

It’s not hard to write an article or outline a talk. It’s not hard to invite someone for coffee. It’s not hard to hand write a thank you note to your new clients.

It’s not hard to do these things. It’s just work. But you have to do it.

I heard from an attorney yesterday who has a friend who always seems to have plenty of new clients, yet he doesn’t “do” any marketing. Trust me, he does. If he has a big enough base of clients, which he does after twenty years of practice, marketing for him means little more than saying please and thank you and staying in touch with his former clients. He did the “hard work” years ago when he had no clients. Now, marketing is so easy for him it appears like he isn’t doing any.

The hard part for many attorneys isn’t the work, it’s the ego. If you believe you “shouldn’t have to do this,” you’re going to resent doing it and it will be unpleasant for you. If instead, you believe that marketing is part of the job, not beneath you and really not that difficult, you might actually enjoy it.

You’ve got to get your ego out of the way and just do the work. Schedule time on your calendar every day for marketing and keep the appointment with yourself. Even 15 minutes a day will help you make progress, if you do it every day.

It’s just work.

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Networking 101: What Do I Do After I’ve Made a New Contact?

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An attorney emailed and asked:

“Last week, I met a man who is the head of the [an influential association]. Good contact. I sent him an email saying nice to meet you, he responded likewise and hopes to see me around. Now what?”

Great question. What do you do after you meet someone? How do you develop a relationship that will bear fruit?

Of course there isn’t a simple answer. Each situation is as different as the individuals involved. And while every nascent networking relationship has the potential to grow and develop, it’s possible that it won’t. The chemistry isn’t there, the timing isn’t right or one of the parties simply isn’t amenable to taking the relationship to a higher level.

So you meet a lot of people, try a lot of things, and see what works. Most relationships probably won’t pan, out but that’s okay. You only need a few good ones.

When you meet a new contact, here’s what to do next:

First, never leave anything to the other party. Always take the initiative to move things forward. You invite them, you call them, you ask them. The reason we give people our business cards when we meet them, isn’t so they have our contact information, it’s to get theirs.

So you’ve done that. You took the lead and emailed “nice to meet you”. That’s good. He replied. Even better. The door is open to future contact and there is now a chance that he will remember you.

Second, when we meet new people, during those uncomfortable first few minutes where we exchange small talk, we are searching for “commonalities”. When we find them (a school, a mutual friend, a shared interest in golf, for example) we are united in that common interest and we have something we can talk about. When you find something in common with your new contact, however banal, you can use that to continue the conversation at a later time.

So, did you discover any commonalities with your new contact? Did you discuss anything that you can use to continue the conversation? If not, in your next communication, find a reason to ask him a question. Ask if he knows someone you know or what he thinks about an idea that is important to his industry. Share an article you think he may like and ask for his thoughts.

Third, and most important, networking isn’t about you getting something from the other person, at least not initially. In the beginning, networking is the search for people with problems you can help solve or objectives you can help meet. I am not necessarily referring to your legal services.

What does the other person want? Where is his pain? What is on his mind? You need to find out so you can help.

You might have information that can help. You might introduce him to someone. Or give him a referral.

You get what you want by first helping other people get what they want. The more you give, the more (eventually) you will get.

So, if you don’t know what this individual wants, find out. Ask him–“how can I help you with. . .?” Or ask people who know him or his organization what might be needed. Or do some research.

Once you know what someone wants, look for ways to help him get it. If you can’t help them yourself, turn to your existing network of clients and contacts and find someone who can. If your contacts can’t help, they may know someone who can.

Your role is to position yourself as the “go to” person when people need something. You connect people with problems with people who have solutions. In doing so, you help both people and you also help yourself.

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Every law firm must manage only these three things

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John Jantsch’s post today is about the three things every business must manage: Purpose, Projects, and Process:

  • Purpose: create and tell the story about why the business does what it does.
  • Projects: create actions steps and assemble resources to fulfill the business purpose.
  • Process: implement the action steps.

These three functions obviously apply to every attorney and law firm. However, while we all need to manage purpose, projects, and process, we’re not all in the same business (practice area).

A few years ago, I wrote a post, “The Three Things That Matter Most,” about finding and focusing on the essence of what you do. The three things that matter most for you are the “twenty percent” activities that deliver eighty percent of your (desired) results. When you focus on these three things, you can eliminate (delegate) or curtail everything else, freeing you to do more of your “twenty percent” activities, getting more results.

If you want to earn more and work less, you must focus on the things that matter most. Therefore, once you know and are prepared to articulate your purpose, take the time to reflect on what matters most in your practice before you create any projects or engage in the process of fulfilling that purpose.

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What to give new clients when they sign up

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I hired an attorney recently. After I signed the retainer agreement, he gave me a copy of the agreement and my check. Nothing else. Nor has he sent me anything in the mail or email in the several weeks since.

No letters, no phone calls, no information.

It’s true, nothing has happened yet that would require an update. Nevertheless, not sending me anything or communicating with me in any way is a big mistake.

Attorneys need to give new clients as much information as possible, and stay in touch with them as often as possible:

  • To thank them for choosing you instead of any other lawyer
  • To educate them on what you will be doing and how the client can help you do a better job for them
  • To inoculate the client from doing or saying anything that could harm them
  • To clarify and commemorate what you told the client and what the client told you
  • To give them something to show their spouse or partner that explains what you are doing and why it is necessary
  • To show clients you are organized and experienced and that they can trust you to stay on top of their matter
  • To ensure the client knows what will be happening, and when, so they don’t expect too much, too soon
  • To let the client know that even though they haven’t heard from you, you are working on their case
  • To reduce the client’s anxiety–about their case and about working with a lawyer
  • To add value to the transaction and exceed the client’s expectations; to give them a “wow” experience
  • To clarify billing and payment requirements so there are no misunderstandings or unpleasant surprises
  • To set the stage for cross-sales and referrals by educating the client about other services your firm offers

Every law firm should send new clients home with as much information as possible. Create a simple “new client kit” and supplement this with regularly scheduled letters and phone calls. Let them know what you are doing for them, even if what you are doing is waiting for something from them or from another party.

Many attorneys do this but too many don’t. How about you? What do you send your new clients and how has this helped your practice?

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