At least they had cookies

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Last night, I went to a homeowners meeting for our community, to hear about proposed changes to parking rules.

The head of the committee called the meeting to order, read the current rules, brought us up to date, and asked for feedback. Many shared their opinions and grievances. A few lawyers in the crowd thought the existing rule was ambiguous. (It was).

Nothing much was accomplished, but at least they had cookies.

I’m not going to say “most meetings are a waste of time and all of this could have been done digitally”. That may be true but there are times when it’s good to meet with fellow stakeholders in person.

And this was one of them. It was good to hear what my neighbors thought and put faces with names.

But I do have a few thoughts about how the meeting might have been improved.

First, tell folks the agenda, so they know what to expect and can follow along. You want them to understand the big picture before you dive into the minutia, lest they get lost (and doze off).

And, keep things moving.

Let people make their point, thank them, and move on. If you let people ramble, they will. (They did.)

Second, take notes. And let everyone see you do it.

Our speaker had dealt with the parking rules over the last several years and knew them backwards and forwards. He appropriately expressed interest when people offered new ideas or shared their problems, and said he would look into them.

But he didn’t write anything down.

So, would he look into it? Remember it? Was he being honest?

In any meeting, whether group or one-on-one, let people see you take notes. It shows them you heard what they said and care about it (or them).

Finally, tell people what happens next.

Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them ask. Spell it out.

I left our meeting not quite sure what would happen next, or what to do if I wanted to follow up.

Tell them what you’re going to do and/or what you want them to do.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Don’t forget the cookies.

If you want to grow your practice quickly, here’s what you need

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Need more ideas? Start with this one

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If you want (need) more ideas–for building your practice or anything else–including ideas for articles and blog posts and other content–you might want to follow author James Altucher’s recommendation.

And that is: Write down 10 ideas a day.

He says that if you do this for 30 days, you’ll not only have a heap of ideas to choose from, you will also train your brain to become an idea finding machine.

You’ll become more creative, seeing ideas everywhere. And you’ll become more prolific because when you have more ideas than you could possibly use, you’ll be able to easily push out new content.

Where do you find these ideas?

Everywhere.

Read blogs and articles for lawyers and by lawyers, in your field and allied fields.

Read things written by and for people in your client’s industry or market.

Read books and watch videos on any subject that interest you.

And write down everything that comes into your head.

Good ideas and bad ideas, and everything in between.

You won’t get usable ideas from everything your read. But you will stimulate your brain to make connections between seemingly disconnected ideas and formulate new ones.

Can you do this for 30 days? Altucher says he does it every day. It’s been a part of his routine for years and allowed him to turn out a plethora of articles and blog posts and best-selling books.

If you’re ready to try this for 30 days, you can start you list with the idea you just read.

One down, only nine to go.

More ways to get ideas for emails and blog posts

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The case of the florescent green house slippers

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I needed a new pair of house slippers and ordered a pair online. They arrived, I tried them on but didn’t like the fit. 

Back they went. 

I ordered a different brand and they fit alright but I couldn’t get used to the bright green lining which showed even when my feet were in them.  

You want to relax when you put on your slippers, don’t ya? Not feel like you’re at the circus. 

I sent these back and ordered a third pair. Plain black, inside and out. 

Guess what happened? 

They fit, they look good, they’re comfortable, and I kept them. I’m wearing them now, as a matter of fact. 

You may be wondering why I’m telling you this not-very-interesting and seemingly pointless story. (And why you spent valuable time reading it.)

It is to make a point about stories, and why you should use them liberally in your writing and presentations. 

Yes, you’ve heard this before. You know that stories are more interesting than facts, usually because they have people in them, you know that “facts tell but stories sell,” and you know that stories are a great way to connect emotionally with your reader. 

You also know that stories are a good way to show people what it will be like having you as their attorney. 

Showing instead of telling.

But there’s another reason why stories are effective. 

It’s because human beings are hard-wired to listen to them. 

It’s a survival instinct. When we hear stories, our minds seek to predict what happens next. 

When we sat in caves and heard tribal leaders tell stories of being chased by ferocious creatures and what they did to escape, we learned what to do when we’re chased by ferocious creatures. 

Our brains pay attention to stories to find out what happened. 

So the next time you want to persuade someone to do something,  don’t just tell them the facts, tell a story. 

If a busy professional like you will listen to my boring tale of buying slippers, imagine what your prospective clients will do when you tell them about your client being chased by ferocious opposing counsel and how you saved them from being devoured.

Put stories in your newsletter. Here’s how

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Is THIS the secret to getting everything you want?

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Entrepreneur and author Jennifer Cohen recently gave a TEDx Talk called The Secret to Getting Anything You Want In Life. Her premise: “Boldness is more important than intelligence”.

“Smart people think of all the negative things that can happen when things go wrong,” she said. “But, bold people think of all the good things that will happen when things go right.”

I don’t know if boldness and a positive outlook necessarily correlate but I agree with the idea that intelligent people tend to think about things that can go wrong.

Especially attorneys.

We’re paid to do that, and we’re good at it, but when it comes to managing our career and personal life, it can get in the way.

Starting a new marketing initiative, for example, is more difficult when you focus on all of the things that can go wrong.

Cohen says that boldness is a skill, meaning it can be learned and developed. She often practices that skill in restaurants, asking the server for a meal that’s not on the menu.

Annoying, yes. Like your fussy aunt who repeatedly sends her food back because something isn’t right.

Cohen does this because, “When you’re comfortable asking for the small things in life, it gives you the skills, habits, and confidence to ask for the bigger things.”

Cohen also makes a habit of asking for things she wants ten times. “If you make ten attempts at anything, I guarantee one will be successful,” she says.

I seem to remember my daughter employing this tactic when she was a lass.

I’ve never had a problem asking for things on behalf of a client; if you look up the term “ad nasuem” in the dictionary, you might find my photo. But when it comes to asking for things for myself, I could use some practice.

Maybe I need to eat out more.

How to get more referrals without asking for referrals

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How to find a good attorney. . . according to an attorney

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If you were looking for a good auto mechanic, podiatrist, accountant, or therapist, you’d want to know what someone in that field recommends about how to find them, wouldn’t you?

That’s why you should write an article that shows people how to find an attorney in your field.

Include your practice area in the title. “How to find a good personal injury attorney. . . according to a personal injury attorney,” for example.

Then, to save time, search online for similar articles or blog posts, and use the information as prompts to write your own. You should see ideas about who to ask for referrals, places to find “candidates,” questions to ask, things to watch out for, and so on.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Who to ask for a referral. (Friends, other professionals they know.) What should they tell the person about their case or situation? What should they ask them about the attorney they recommend?
  • Should they look at ads or lawyer directories? If so, what they should look for? If not, why not?
  • What to look for on the candidate attorney’s website. What kind of experience or qualifications? What else they should note (Testimonials, reviews, endorsements; types of clients they represent; cases or issues they emphasize. Are they a certified specialist? Fees and billing, free consultations, etc.)
  • Where to get more information. (Review sites, Bar website, websites where the attorney has published articles or been interviewed, etc.)
  • Questions to ask the attorney when they speak to them. What should they look for in their answers?

Include examples and stories from your practice. These make your article more interesting to read and allow readers to see you “in action,” talking to people like them, handling issues similar to their own.

You might talk about the questions a new client asked you, for example, and how you responded.

Valuable insights from an industry insider like these should be easy to get published on websites or blogs that target your market. You can also feature it on your website, turn it into a video, or use it to get interviewed by blogs and podcasts.

You could also turn it into a “free report” and advertise it to build your email list.

People want to know how to find a good attorney (like you). Now’s your chance to tell them.

How to write a report and use it to build your list

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Working hard or hardly working?

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Many lawyers complain (brag) about having too much work to do. Other lawyers don’t have enough work (clients, cases, billable hours) and want more.

How about you?

Are you earning as much as you want? Working as much as you want? Are you working too hard or are you ready for more?

Hold on. It’s not as simple as getting more clients or working fewer hours. There’s another option.

You could bring in “better” clients and “bigger” cases.

Instead of clients who pay $5,000 or $10,000, what if you brought in clients who pay $25,000 or $50,000?

Instead billing $300 per hour, what if you could get clients who pay $800 per hour?

Instead of handling tort cases with $20,000 contingency fees, what if you could attract the ones with six- and seven-figure potential?

They’re out there. Someone is getting these cases and clients. Why not you?

I’ll tell you why not. Perhaps, deep down, you don’t want them. You know you’d have to do too much to get them, and if you did get them, you’d have to do more work or take on more overhead or deal with more pressure than you want.

And that’s fair.

For most of my career, I handled small to medium cases and clients, for those very reasons. And made a good living doing it.

So, if that’s what appeals to you, I’m on your side.

Right now, we’re hearing a lot about a four-hour work-week. Some companies who’ve tried it are reporting more productive and happier employees and no loss of revenue. Some companies say they’re earning more.

In my practice, I cut my work-week down to three days and saw my income soar.

Anything’s possible.

You can earn more and work less. You can build the practice and lifestyle you want.

Some advice:

This year, instead of waiting to see what happens, decide what you want to happen and find ways to make it so.

This can help

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Face time with your target market

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Want a simple way to stand out from your competition? Get in front of clients and prospects for some old-fashioned, real-world interaction.

Speak, network, play golf, do coffee. Meet people, press the flesh, get belly-to-belly with clients and prospects and fellow professionals.

In an ever-increasing digital world, real “face time” is a simple but effective way to gain a competitive edge.

It’s also a great way to get your message heard and understood.

In digital land, you can reach a lot more people but the value of each interaction is far lower than what you can accomplish in person.

In person, you can find out if they understand, if they want to know more, and if they’re ready to take the next step. You can answer questions and read their body language to see if your message is getting through.

In person meetings also help people get to know you.

They can listen to your words, ask questions, read your body language and get a sense of what it would be like to work with you.

Politicians call it retail politics. They know that that if you want to win hearts and minds, nothing beats shaking hands, kissing babies, and breaking bread.

Ready to take your practice to the next level? Here’s how

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Sorry, I hired another lawyer

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I’m sorry. I hired another lawyer. You probably want to know why.

It wasn’t because of your services. You’re a good lawyer and I had no complaints about the work you did for me.

It wasn’t poor “customer service”. You always kept me informed about my case, answered my questions, and made me feel appreciated.

It wasn’t fees. I thought your fees were reasonable and I had no issues with your billing practices.

It wasn’t personal. I liked you and got along fine with your staff.

So, why did I hire another lawyer?

Because I had a different legal matter and didn’t realize you could help me with it. You didn’t tell me about your other practice areas, or if you did, it was a long time ago and I forgot.

I asked a friend if he knew any attorneys who practiced in this area and got a referral.

Why didn’t I call you to find out if you could help me or ask you for a referral?

Honestly, it never occurred to me.

I haven’t heard from you since you finished my case a couple of years ago and you know what they say, “out of sight, out of mind”.

I wish you had told me about the other matters you handled. I wish you had stayed in touch. I’ve referred several clients to my new lawyer but I would have sent them to you.

An email newsletter is an easy way to stay in touch with clients and prospects

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Grok and grow rich

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If you wanted to attract Martian clients, you’d learn to speak Martian or hire someone who does. The same goes for any group of clients.

But I’m not talking about translating a foreign language. I’m talking about speaking to prospective clients in ways they will not only understand but relate to.

That means using examples, idioms, and market-specific references that resonate with them. It means using the words they use to describe their world and making statements they agree with.

If you target blue-collar workers, you would talk about long hours, coming home tired and sweaty, bosses who take advantage of them, union issues, and so on.

If you target medical professionals, you would talk about escalating costs and regulations, declining revenue, legal issues, risks, stress, and the like.

In other words, the kinds of things they talk about among themselves (and to themselves).

Most people are attracted to people with whom they have something in common and to people who understand them. You may have nothing in common with your target market but you can show them you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

Read what your target market reads. Pay attention to what they talk about, especially the things that irk and frustrate them.

If you want more Martian clients, learn to speak Martian.

My email marketing course helps you learn to speak Martian

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How to use Fortnite to build your law practice

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What do you like to do when you’re not working or spending time with family? Do you have any outside interests or hobbies? Do you play video games? Write novels? Watch sports?

Whatever it is that floats your boat, suppose you had a list of people who love the same thing– a social media group you moderate or an email list.

You could use that group or list to hang out with a bunch of like-minded people. Chat, share your thoughts, exchange ideas and stories and resources.

“Hey, have you seen this website? Have you tried this app?”

You could sound off about the recent game and how your team blew it, or predict what will happen next week.

You know, like you might do in the real world.

You’d talk about your hobby, not your practice. You’re not selling anything or asking anyone to do something. Just hanging out with some friends.

Why would you want to do this?

Because it could be a lot of fun.

And because some of your online friends might be curious about your day job. They’ll ask you what you do, or scroll up (or sideways) and find a sentence or two that tells them what you do and provides a link to your website.

They may need your legal help at some point, or know someone who does.

Wait, am I saying “marketing” could be as simple as hanging out with people who share your interest in bug collecting, gourmet cooking, or yoga? That you can build your practice by making new friends and only casually mentioning what you do for a living?

Sure sounds like it.

And yes, you can do this offline. Find a group, join a club, or start one.

Go make some new friends, have some fun, and wait for someone to ask, “What do you do?”

My book can help you answer that question.

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