Is ‘tell your story’ good advice?

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Who are you? How can you help me? Why should I trust you?

This is what prospective clients are thinking about you, even when you are referred to them by someone they trust.

It’s only natural. They want to know what you can do for them and what it will be like to work with you.

So, tell them. Tell your story.

Tell your story in your marketing materials. Tell your story to people who ask, “What do you do?” (My ebook, How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less shows you how to answer that question.)

So yes, it is good advice. But a word of caution:

Don’t be “that guy” or “that gal” who talks about themselves all the time.

Tell your story and be quick about it. A few sentences is usually more than enough.

Another caution: when you talk about yourself, some people may doubt you. So, do what you can to get others to tell your story, via testimonials and positive reviews.

What someone else says about you and how you helped them is much more persuasive than anything you say about yourself.

Testimonials and positive reviews aren’t the only way to do this, however. You don’t need clients to tell their stories, you can tell their stories for them.

When you write an article or blog post, when you deliver a presentation, when you speak to a prospective client or fellow professionals, tell stories about the clients you’ve helped.

Client success stories are a subtle but powerful form of marketing. Collect them and use them liberally, because while you may do the “talking,” it is the client’s story that delivers the message.

It’s not difficult to do this. In your next article or conversation, start a paragraph by saying, “I had a client who. . .” and tell their story. Describe the problem they had when they came to you, what they hired you to do, and what happened.

Tell your story. And tell client success stories.

How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less

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What to do when you don’t know what to do

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You’ve got a situation. A problem, something you need or want and you can’t figure out how to get it. You’re confused and frustrated and don’t know what to do.

We have a situation like this in our family right now. A close relative is ill and we’re trying to sort out the medical, legal, and financial options. It’s all been a bit overwhelming.

When you have a problem and you don’t know what to do, your feelings aren’t going to help you, you have to focus on action.

Here’s how:

1) State the goal

Where do you want this to end up? What would be a good outcome? How would you define success?

You need to know the destination before you you know what to do to reach it.

2) Write down the facts

What do you know about the current situation, and what do you need to find out?

What are the options? What can you do? What are the problems, issues, and obstacles stopping you from reaching the goal?

3) Choose the “next action”

Once you know the facts, it’s time to take action. Not just any action, however, the logical “next action,” in Getting Things Done terms, meaning something you can do to move the situation forward.

If you’re having trouble getting started, choose something small and easy to do:

Write down a list of questions. Make a call. Do some research.

Once you’ve done that, ask again: “What’d the next action?”

And do that.

If the next action is too big, break it down into smaller steps and find one you can do.

If you have several next action candidates and don’t know which one to choose, your next action might be to talk to someone or to weigh the pros and cons of each option so you can decide which one to choose.

We did this with our family situation and while it’s been a bumpy ride, we’ve moved forward from a place of not knowing what to do to knowing what to do (next).

And we know that if we continue asking, “What’s the next action?” and doing it, we’ll get through this difficult situation and eventually reach our goal.

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If you do this, you’ll get more clients

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If you’d like a mind-numbingly simple way to get more clients, read on my fellow legal peep. I think you’re going to like this idea.

It will work for just about any type of practice or practice area and you can start using it immediately.

And, did I mention it was simple?

All you need to do is create a one-page letter, form, card, web page or email that says:

“Please send me free information on:”

Under this, put a list of subjects that might interest a prospective client.

For example:

  • “How to hire a good xyz attorney without losing your shirt”
  • “The least you need to know about X”
  • “An easy way to protect your [family/business/estate, etc.]
  • “How to [benefit] in 30 days or less”

Anything a prospective prospective client (and the people who can refer them) might want to know.

These can be old blog posts, reports, articles, videos, presentations, or anything else you’ve created (or can create). You can start with a few options and add more later.

Provide check boxes or links and explain what to do to request the information. Include a paragraph about you and your practice, so they know who you are and how you can help them. And tell them there is no cost or obligation.

When someone requests information, you learn who they are and what they’re interested in. You can follow up with them, offer more information, offer a free consultation or other incentive, and stay in touch with them until they’re ready to take the next step.

Your report tells them something they want to know, and shows them why they should hire you or contact you to get more information.

But, here’s the thing.

Even if they don’t read your report, they have your contact information. If and when they decide they need to talk to a lawyer, the odds are that you’ll get the call.

Once you have created you “information request form,” put it in your new client kit, send it to former clients (a good excuse to re-connect with them), and encourage everyone to share it with their friends and contacts.

See, I told you this was simple.

How to get more clients

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How to defeat ‘Productivity Shame’

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‘Productivity Shame’ is the feeling that you haven’t done enough.

You haven’t accomplished enough, you didn’t work hard enough, you’re not good enough.

In part, it’s caused by believing you “should” accomplish at a certain level or pace. You should work as hard as others do and accomplish as much as they do, and if you don’t, you’re weak and ineffectual.

So, we push ourselves to do more than we’re able to do and set ourselves up to fail.

We do that by setting unrealistic goals or schedules for ourselves, because humans tend to underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a task, and/or overestimate our ability to complete a task in that amount of time.

How can we change this?

First, stop comparing yourself to others.

We all have different goals, responsibilities, and energy. What someone else does (or says they do) may inspire you to attempt to do more but if that doesn’t work for you, stop it and allow yourself to do what you can do.

Because you can only do what you can do.

Your body needs time to rest and recharge and time to do other things. You have to stop beating yourself up because you can’t (or don’t want to) live up to someone else’s standard.

Pushing ourselves when we’re exhausted leads to bad decisions and bad outcomes. Things take longer to do because we’re tired, make mistakes and need time to fix them.

If we keep pushing, it can lead to burnout.

On the other hand, when you work at a pace that’s suited to you, you get more done in less time and you get better results.

Second, focus on what’s important and let go of everything else.

There is never enough time to do everything. Determine your priorities and get them done.

When you do that, when you get your most important tasks done each day, the things you didn’t do don’t matter.

Look at your list of tasks and choose the most important one. Ask yourself, “If I could only get one thing done today, what would it be?”

This doesn’t mean you can’t do more. It means that if get your most important task done, your day has been productive and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Finally, celebrate your accomplishments.

When you have a good day, meaning you accomplished one or more important tasks, pat yourself on the back, forget about everything else, and don’t look back.

Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do.

Feel good about yourself and reward yourself for having a productive day.

Whatever you do, stop caring about what other’s think. What they think is none of your business.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System for Attorneys

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Old school marketing for attorneys

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Some attorneys don’t do any marketing. Not in the way most people think of it.

They don’t have a website, write a newsletter, do social media, create presentations, or advertise. They don’t network, do interviews, or stay in touch with their former clients.

And yet they have a thriving practice. More business than they can handle.

They may have done some marketing early in their career, or when they started their own practice, but they no longer need to do that.

So, how do they build their practice?

  1. They work hard for their clients, deliver great outcomes, and give them great “service”.
  2. That’s it. This brings them lots of repeat business and referrals.

That’s what my father did.

He did some networking when he started practicing. Later, he became personal friends with many of his better clients. And that’s about it.

Once he had some good clients, he got more of them. He didn’t ask for referrals, they just happened.

New clients led to more repeat business and referrals and, over time, his practice grew and grew.

Old school, but it works just as well today. And it should be the foundation of your practice-building efforts.

But you have to give it time.

If you want things to go faster and your practice to grow bigger, here are 3 things you should do next:

  1. Set up a one-page website that lists your practice areas and contact info. Make sure your clients have the url so they can see “what else” you do, e.g, your practice areas. When they have a referral, they can send them to that page. Later, if you want to, you can add an “About” page (with your head shot), answers to FAQs, a few articles and other information a prospective clients might want to know.
  2. Stay in touch with your clients and contacts. You might start with birthday or holiday cards. Later, if you want to, you can send them articles you think might interest them. Find these online or write them yourself. Send these regularly and you can call it a newsletter.
  3. Create a handout to give to your clients and contacts they can pass along to their clients and contacts. A form, checklist, report, or list of resources. Something helpful your clients can give to friends, and your professional contacts can give to their clients.

Is there more you can do? Of course. But this is a good place to start. If you do a good job for your clients and give it time, you might not need to do much more.

How to start and build an email newsletter to build your practice

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A simple idea for your next newsletter or blog post

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Your clients and prospects see lawyers at work on TV and in the movies and think this is a realistic depiction of what lawyers do. They might be a bit disappointed to learn that our work isn’t glamorous and problems don’t get solved in 42 minutes, but they are curious about what lawyers do.

If you’re looking for ideas to write about in your newsletter or blog, educate your readers about the “legal industry” and what you do in your practice.

Here are a few idea to stimulate that big brain of yours:

  • What a typical day looks like for me
  • How I get new clients
  • Why I advertise/don’t advertise
  • How Zoom meetings have changed my practice
  • The software tools I use every day
  • Top ten questions I get from prospective clients
  • How I decide to take a case (and what I do if I don’t)
  • Legal fees, costs, and retainers, oh my
  • Why some lawyers earn more than others
  • Malpractice: what is it and what lawyers do to avoid it
  • Questions I ask prospective clients before I take their case
  • What I tell new clients before I start working on their case
  • What I’ll tell you if you ask me, “How much is my case worth?”
  • How often do I need to update my [business/estate documents?]
  • Phone, mail, email, or text: how I communicate with my clients
  • Why I (usually) love what I do (and when I don’t)

Articles like these are quick to write, give people interesting and helpful information about a subject that interests them, and helps them appreciate what you do. When someone is looking for a lawyer, this is precisely the kind of information that can help them decide to choose you.

Tell people about your work. Even if it’s not glamorous.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Daily notes: a journal by a different name

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I’ve tried keeping a journal and find it useful (and fun) to record my thoughts but the habit hasn’t stuck.

I’d like to try again and may have found a way to do that.

There’s a new breed of note taking apps (Roam, Obsidian, and others) and I’m trying out one of them.

One feature is a “daily notes” page that automatically appears (unless you turn off that feature), with the date and plenty of room to write. You can also set up templates to prompt you to record whatever is important to you.

Yes, it’s really a journal with a different name. But it might work because the daily notes feature is built into the app. I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to go write in my journal, I can simply add some thoughts or notes on my daily notes page when they occur to me throughout the day.

In that sense, the daily notes page work like an inbox—a place to deposit ideas and notes to be sorted, filed and worked on later.

A daily notes page also works like an “outbox”.

At the end of the day, you can record notes on what you did, what you thought, and what you plan to do later. Because it’s built into the app, it’s easy to drag or copy/paste notes written elsewhere onto the page.

What can you record in your daily notes? Anything you want:

  • What you did today, what you learned today, what you want to remember
  • Goals, plans, ideas
  • Quotes from books you read, a list of books you want to read
  • Websites and apps you want to check out
  • Questions you have about something you’re working on
  • Habits you want to track
  • New clients, new prospects, new marketing campaigns
  • Earnings, expenses, debts you need to pay, money you need to collect
  • Ideas for new projects, notes about improving your workflow, your attitude, your skills, or your well-being

Anything you did or want to do, anything you want to remember, in as little or as much detail as you want.

Some days, you’ll write hundred of words. Other days, you might write a single sentence, or nothing at all.

This morning, I wrote a few questions about the notes app I’m trying, and a few thoughts about the concept of daily notes.

At the end of the day, you can add comments and additional thoughts, and tags or labels or links to related notes. You will no doubt want to move some of those notes to other folders or pages or other apps.

Daily notes allow you to memorialize your journey and build a repository of information you can go back to help you manage your work or personal life.

Daily notes also help you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do, and what you need to do to achieve your goals.

When I look at what I did and didn’t do last week, I see what I’m doing right and what I need to improve.

Yeah, I’m not sure I like that part.

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3 rules for better note taking

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In school, taking good notes improved our understanding and retention of the material, leading to better papers and test scores.

In a law practice, good notes can help us win cases by helping us see aspects of the case we might otherwise miss.

Good notes also help us create better articles, presentations, and books.

Learning and using what you learn starts with good note taking. Here are 3 rules to help you do that:

(1) Record the source.

Attribution of authoritative sources lends authority to what you write or say about a subject. Recording the source will also allow you to go back to the original material if you want to take another look, or find other material by the same author.

(2) Don’t just write what someone said. Write what you think about what they said.

One of the best ways to get more out of your notes is to record your thoughts and ideas about the points you read or hear immediately after you hear them. Write down why they are important, other ideas and questions they make you think of, examples from other books you’ve read and from your own experience, and notes about what to do with this information.

In law school, after I wrote a note, I often wrote my opinion—what I thought about the point made by the court, the professor, or fellow student. I also noted related cases or ideas, and questions I wanted to explore further. This helped me study more effectively, recall the material during exams, and write more persuasively.

I did the same thing in my practice. I recorded what a witness said, for example, and then added my thoughts and questions about what they said, and how I might use it, in the left margin of the page.

The Cornell Note Taking Method advocates this. They also suggest that when the lecture, interview, or chapter is done, you immediately add a summary at the bottom of the page.

(3) Reread and review your notes after you write them. Preferably more than once.

Add additional thoughts. Add links to other notes you have on the subject. Then, re-read and reflect on your notes again, to re-enforce what you’ve learned, and explore additional ideas you can use.

Taking better notes takes practice. I know that after I hear a presentation or read an article, I’m usually in a hurry to move on to the next video or article. I have to remind myself to record my thoughts about the subject and how I could use my notes.

When I take time to do this, I almost always find my notes are more useful to me. Try it and I think you’ll find the same thing.

Evernote for Lawyers ebook

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The most important element in marketing legal services

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What’s the most important thing in your marketing?

Trust.

Whether it’s with client relations, nurturing prospects, building relationships with professional contacts or building your reputation in your niche market or community, trust is everything.

Because without it, nothing else matters.

People may know and like you, but if they don’t trust you, they’re not going to hire you, refer you, or help you.

Yes, it is that simple.

How do you create trust? Start by keeping your promises.

Show up on time, call when you said you would call, deliver your work product or updates on schedule.

Do what you said you would do, and what reasonable people would expect you to do.

Another way to build trust is by being consistent.

Consistent quality, for example, shows people you’re a professional and can be counted on to get the job done.

Consistently showing up in their inbox is another way to build trust. Especially when you consistently deliver relevant, valuable content.

Your content shows people you know what you’re doing and have helped other people with the same or similar issues.

It shows people that many others have trusted you, suggesting that they can trust you, too.

Consistently showing up in their inbox also reminds people that you’re still “in business,” ready to help them when they need you or know someone who does.

Contrast that to the lawyer who writes once in a while, or doesn’t write at all.

Yes, building trust is simple. But it’s also easy to mess up.

So don’t do that.

Do what you said you would do and do it consistently.

More ways to build trust: here

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Hard work is for suckers

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As kids, how many times did we hear about the value of hard work and self-discipline? How many times did we hear stories about parents or grandparents who sacrificed to make a better future for their family? How many times were we told that hard work is the path to a successful and virtuous life?

A lot.

We hear it a lot today, too.

Leaders, authors, speakers, clergy, and everyone else, it seems, who has something to say about our human condition, talks about the sin of laziness and the virtue of hard work.

But is it all true?

Yes, many people have achieved great things by putting their nose to the proverbial grindstone. But just as many seem to accomplish as much without breaking a sweat.

We all know people who are successful without working hard or forcing themselves to do things they hate doing.

Could it be as simple as choosing the right career or job or business? Our grandparents may have had limited career choices, but do we?

If we choose work we love, we don’t need self-discipline. We do what we do because we love doing it.

But it’s not always possible, is it? Surely the sanitation worker doesn’t love his or her job?

Maybe they do. Or maybe they love that they perform a function society depends on, they are (relatively) well-paid, and they don’t have to put in the hours their entrepreneurial neighbors do.

Hard work is okay, if you want to work hard. But doing things that come easily to us, that don’t require self-discipline or sacrifice, is okay, too.

And, if we can’t find work we love, perhaps we can find ways to do our work that don’t cause us stress or strain.

As attorneys, we might not love all our clients or all of the work we are asked to do. But we can always find something about what we do that we enjoy.

Even if it is the satisfaction of helping people solve difficult problems and earning a good living doing it.

Working smarter means you don’t have to work harder. Here’s how

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