When was the last time you took inventory?

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Of all the things you do, in your practice and personal life, some things contribute more value than others. By taking inventory of everything you do, you can identify your most valuable activities, so you can do more of them.

You’ll have the time to do that, of course, by curtailing activities that contribute little or no value.

Taking inventory starts with choosing an area of your life where you’d like to be more productive or successful. Let’s say that’s your practice.

The first step is to write a list of everything you do in that area–all of your tasks, projects, habits, and routines. For your practice, include the different kinds of client work you do, all of the admin, and all of your marketing.

Add a number to each activity on your list. If there are 50 activities, number them 1-50, so you can identify each one separately.

Next, make a second list. Write down all of your successes in this area of your life. In this case, your practice.

These successes might include things like winning one or more big cases, getting a lot of traffic from a profile of you that appeared in a prominent publication, meeting a well-connected professional who helped you get a spot on a speaking panel, a successful ad campaign, or things you did to reduce your overhead without hurting your bottom line.

These could be one-time wins or things that bring you ongoing benefits.

When your “success” list is done, go through it again and next to each item, add the number of each “activity” (on your first list) that contributed to it.

For example, you might connect “reading blogs in your target market’s industry” and “writing articles for your target market’s publications” with the positive result of being introduced to a major center of influence in your client’s niche, which led to several new clients.

By connecting activities with results, you can see where the things you’re doing are working.

Whatever is left–activities you can’t connect to significant results–should either be eliminated, minimized, systematized, or delegated.

Finally, look at your success list and identify things you didn’t connect with an activity. Ask yourself what you could do to make results like these happen more often.

For example, maybe you met someone accidentally who hired you for a lot of legal work. Ask, “What can I do to meet their colleagues or counterparts?”

When you take the time to link your activities with your results, you’ll be able to see where you should spend more time and resources, and what you should do less of, or not at all.

How to meet and get referrals from other professionals

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Here’s your referral ‘Plan B’

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You probably know you’ll get more referrals if you say something like this to your clients and contacts:

“We’re always looking for more clients and your referrals would be appreciated”.

You just don’t want to.

Well, here’s something else you can do.

It’s something you see and hear all over the Internet–in every video, podcast, article, and blog post. Everyone asks readers or listeners to “Like, Share, and Comment”.

It’s so common, many people don’t notice it. It’s part of the furniture.

And yet, it works. People do share, and when they do, new people come and watch or read or sign up.

So, if you’re uncomfortable directly asking for referrals, do this instead. Ask people to share your post, your video, your link, an invitation to your upcoming event, or a replay of your recent one.

You can “ask” in the content itself, on social media, and at the bottom of your newsletter. You can even ask at the bottom of your regular emails.

Add one sentence–an offer of a report or checklist or resource guide–and a link to a page where readers can download it or get more information.

Easy, right?

You can even do this in person (if that’s ever a thing again).

Hand the client print copies of your article or report, or extra business cards or brochures. Ask them to share with people they think might like a copy.

Or. . . don’t say anything. Most people know what to do.

More ways to get referrals without asking

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Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

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When you’re anxious, stressed, frustrated, fed up, crying like a baby, or ready to hit something (or someone), and you don’t know what to do about it, I have a suggestion.

A little something called “a plan”.

Write down a goal, a deadline, and a list of steps you can take to achieve the goal.

The actual plan isn’t important. The act of planning, however, as Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, is everything.

That’s because the act of planning helps us to clarify what we think, what we want, and what we need to do. It allows us to funnel our thoughts and emotions in a constructive direction.

The plan itself will change. Many times, no doubt. New ideas, new information, new feedback–the plan you ultimately follow often looks nothing like the plan you start with.

But at least you started. Something you might not have done without planning.

Planning has another benefit. For a few minutes at least, we get to assert a degree of control over our day. We get to decide what we’ll do, and when, what we won’t do, and why.

And it feels good.

Planning allows us to escape our burdens, feel empowered, and get excited about the future.

Some of us do a lot of planning. We love to make lists, re-arrange the items on it, and manage our lists with new apps and new systems.

We enjoy the planning process because it’s a way to avoid the harsh reality of the real world that.

Planning is a form of escapism.

Planning feels good because it doesn’t require a lot of effort, brain power, physical movement, tough decisions, or problem solving. It’s just our thoughts and a piece of paper.

Compared to “doing,” planning is just plain fun.

So, when the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, or you simply have too much to do and don’t know where to start, take a few minutes and create a plan, or grab your list and redo the existing plan.

You still have to take action, of course, but the act of planning will make that a lot easier because you’ll feel a lot better about where you are and where you’re going.

Here’s a plan to get more clients and increase your income

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Why some clients think their attorney is a cold bastard

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Listening is one of the most important skills for an attorney. Too often, an attorney will hear what the client or other person said, decide they understand their point, and immediately start formulating their response.

They may be right in their assessment, but one of the most important parts of listening is showing the other person you are.

When a client thinks you’re not listening, they think you don’t care about them or their case, or you’re not good at your job. Either way, they think less of you.

Effective listening isn’t passive listening, however. Just being quiet isn’t enough. The client needs to know that you not only hear them, you understand them.

A few Do’s and Don’ts.

  • DON’T do other things during the conversation (other than taking notes). If you can’t give the other person your undivided attention, because you’re late for a meeting, for example, explain this and re-schedule.
  • DO make eye contact. Nothing says “I don’t care about you” more than avoiding the other person’s gaze. (I’ve seen professionals do this more than once; it’s unnerving).
  • Ask questions, to clarify and amplify what happened, what they think about it, and what they want.
  • Acknowledge and validate their feelings, based on what they say and how they appear. “I can see you’re frustrated/angry. . .”, “I can see why that would be a problem. . .” , “I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes”.
  • Repeat it back to them. A great way to clarify what they’re saying is to repeat it. “What you’re saying is. . . right?” “Let me make sure I understand what happened. . .”, “So you want your investment back and a public apology, right?”
  • “Is there anything else?” Don’t assume they’ve told you everything. Continue to prompt them to tell you more, until there’s nothing left to tell.

Yeah, I know, some of this is just good lawyering skills, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher.

It also doesn’t hurt to hear how you sound from the client’s perspective, so record the conversation and play it back, latter, over a stiff drink.

If you have the client’s permission, play the recording for someone you trust to give you an honest assessment of your listening skills.

Something else:

It’s also important to show people you’re listening when you reply to their email, letter, or text. But that’s a subject for another day.

Good client relations leads to repeat business and referrals

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The ultimate marketing metric

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You want more new clients. You focus on traffic, visits, clicks, friends, follows, likes, comments, and subscribers. In an online world, these are the metrics that count.

You focus on growing your list because you know that the bigger it gets, the more new clients (and repeat business) you’ll get. You create more content for the same reason.

Or, maybe you keep things simple. You note the number of calls or email inquires or leads you got from prospective clients this week, how many make an appointment, and how many signed up.

If you are an experienced networker, you record the number of prospective referral sources you met this week, or how many phone calls or online chats you booked.

It’s all good. These numbers are valuable. They give you a way to track your time and your dollars. They let you make better decisions and improve your results.

I’d like to suggest another metric, however. Something else to look for and add to your spreadsheet.

At the end of each day or week, record the number of opportunities you found for helping people.

Brian Tracy said, “Successful people are always look for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are asking, ‘What’s in it for me?'”

Corny? Impractical? Imprecise?

Maybe. Or maybe it’s the answer to everything.

It keeps you focused on speaking to people with legal problems you can solve. How many did you find and talk to this week?

It keeps you focused on prospective referral sources–professionals, business owners, bloggers, and others who need your referrals, your introductions, or your knowledge to share with their readers or listeners.

More than this, more than counting their numbers, when you focus on finding people you can help, it changes the way you think about marketing.

And, continually asking yourself, “What can I do for them?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” will also change what others think about you.

Which means instead of needing to look for clients and opportunities, you’ll begin to attract them.

Which is the ultimate measure of marketing success.

If you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing, go here

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How to loosen your marketing sphincter

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Many attorneys are uptight about marketing. So they put forth a token effort and see poor results, or they don’t do it all.

If you’re in there somewhere, this is for you. Marketing can become your best friend if you let it.

Start by letting go of bad memories–ads that bombed, speeches that flopped, networking that left you cold. Let go of all the time you wasted and the money you flushed down the drain.

Also let go of negative feelings you may have about about marketing making you uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to. And it won’t, once you realize that marketing is merely a conversation you have with people you know or people who have expressed interest in what you can do for them.

Marketing doesn’t mean shoving anything down anyone’s throat. Marketing is answering questions, something we both know you’re good at. It’s sharing information, something you no doubt you have plenty of. It’s providing examples about other people you helped, and letting their stories persuade people that you can help them, too.

You like helping people, right? Marketing lets you do more of that. It helps the people who read or listen to your words to better understand their situation and find their way to a better outcome. Without this, their pain might continue, or they might choose the wrong attorney, making things worse.

You don’t have be great at marketing to be effective. In fact, a little clumsiness can be a good thing. People don’t want “slick,” they want “real” and down to earth.

You don’t have to do all kinds of marketing. You can focus on what you like and what you’re good at.

I like writing. I like doing interviews. I like advertising. I really like email. So, that’s what I do.

How about you?

You have a lot of options. Find one that feels good and start there.

If you’re not sure, I suggest starting with your website or blog. Post some information about the law, about your services, and what you can do for someone who visits your site and needs your help.

You know, the kinds of information you already share with people who ask what you do.

My course, Make the Phone Ring, shows you what to do.

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Choose wisely

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Let’s say you want to grow your practice so you ask yourself, “What can I do right now to move my practice forward?”

You have many options.

You could. . .

  • Contact old clients (stimulate repeat business and referrals)
  • Start an email newsletter
  • Write a blog post
  • Run some ads
  • Create a new lead magnet
  • Talk to other professionals about doing a cross-promotion
  • Work on a new presentation
  • Find some (online) networking opportunities

And so on.

Which do you choose?

Choose the right option(s) and you might quickly get more leads and inquiries, speak to several prospective clients, or meet someone who is willing and able to send you referrals.

Choose poorly and you may waste a lot of time and money.

Yes, there is value in trying lots of things–to see what works, and what works better, to see what you like and are good at, and what turns your stomach, to see what you can scale and what is likely to work only once or twice.

Try everything, and keep trying until you find what’s best.

But there’s something else you can do. You can ask yourself another question:

“What should I NOT do right now to move my practice forward?”

This can actually be a more valuable question to answer, because it can help you avoid making mistakes or overwhelming yourself with too much to learn and too much to do.

Knowing what not to do can save you a lot of time.

To answer the second question, look at what most lawyers in your field are doing to build their practice and. . . do the opposite.

Most lawyers, even successful ones, don’t get marketing right. They might be successful because they’ve been at it for a very long time. They might have contacts who give them an edge. They might have gotten lucky. And they might have no idea how they did it.

So don’t take what you see at face value.

Some lawyers are very good at marketing, however. When you find them, study them, reverse engineer what they did, and if they’ll talk to you, try to get the complete story.

You could also hire someone who knows what they’re doing and ask them to tell you what NOT to do.

“Start with this ONE THING. . .” or “Don’t waste your time with that right now, do THIS instead. . .”

It can help cut through the clutter and give you the direction and clarity you crave.

You may already know what to do, and what not to do. Sometimes, it helps to get a second opinion.

If you don’t know, talk to someone who does.

If you’d like to talk to me, contact me here

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Are you essential?

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There are two kinds of attorneys in the world. The first is transactional. A client pays a fee for his or her services, with the hope and expectation of getting a positive outcome.

The attorney may be good at what they do. They may even be great. Their clients may depend on them, trust them, and continually look to them for help, but this doesn’t mean they are essential.

Because they can be replaced.

The second kind of attorney is, relatively speaking, irreplaceable. Their clients depend on them not just for their legal work but for everything else they do for them.

What do I mean? I mean for the things they do that go beyond their core legal services.

A business client may depend on his attorney for introductions, recommendations, and referrals. The client may look to the attorney for information about their industry or market, or depend on the attorney’s wisdom and guidance in building their company.

A consumer client may depend on their attorney for referrals to other professionals and businesses they can trust. They may look to their attorney for guidance on refinancing their home, managing their investments, improving their credit, or protecting their identity.

Today, more than ever, your clients want more from you. They want to see your steadiness and hear your reassurances. They want to see that you are calm, cool, and collected, in a world that is anything but.

When they’re upset or confused, they need to hear your voice or read something you wrote, telling them that everything is going to be okay.

They might not need your legal services for a long time, but they need to know that you will be there when they do, and that they have your friendship and support and can turn to you at any time for just about anything.

When your clients know they can count on you to help them, advise them, support them, and even comfort them, in ways that other attorneys can’t (or don’t), that’s when you become essential.

For ideas on how to help your clients beyond your core legal services, go here

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How bad do you want it?

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Of all the reasons there are for not achieving a goal, the biggest reason, it seems, is not wanting it enough.

According to research, when you are excited about a goal, the structure of your brain literally changes to help you achieve it. Your brain causes you to see obstacles as less potent, making them less likely to stop you.

Desire is the most important factor in goal achievement.

But not the only one.

According to studies reported in the Psychological Bulletin, the more difficult the goal, the better we tend to perform:

In 90% of the studies, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals. Goals affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence, and motivating strategy development. Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging.

A paradox? On the one hand, we’re told that strong desire causes us to downgrade the potency of obstacles, making it more likely we will achieve the goal; on the other hand, we’re told that the more obstacles there are, ie., the more challenging the goal, the more likely we are to achieve it.

I’m not sure what to make of this.

All I know is, the more excited I am about a goal, the more likely I am to keep working on it until I achieve it.

And when I’m not excited about a goal, it doesn’t take much for me to lose interest, slow down, or abandon it.

I also know that I like (and stick with) goals that are not too difficult or too easy.

I guess we could call this the Goldilocks approach to goal setting.

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What if you’re not different or better than other lawyers?

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I just read an article about marketing that points out something you and I already know:

“Competition is fierce. . . consumers are inundated with options and may develop decision fatigue. So. . . they tend to [rely] on referrals and reviews from friends,” she says.

“Highly competitive spaces breed the “who you know” type of purchasing decisions, or can drive you to offer a lower price as a competitive edge.”

She makes it sound like referrals are a bad thing. Hey, that’s where we part company.

Then she makes a good point, stressing the value of “offering a novel and truly innovative product or service” to stand out.

We agree. Marketing is easier and more effective when you do something most attorneys don’t.

Then the author makes another good point. She says that being different keeps you from focusing on your competition, and makes you more likely to focus on your client or market.

“There’s only so far ahead you can get if all you is follow or copycat a competitor.”

Preach, sister.

But, alas, most attorneys are in the copycat game. Most attorneys don’t innovate or do things differently.

We use the same forms, the same process, and follow the same timetable. We offer the same services and charge the same fees.

We look alike, because we are alike. (Okay, some of us have better jokes.)

What’s the solution? How do you stand out when you’re not different or better?

The thing is, you don’t actually have be different, or better, at least not demonstrably. You can “be” different by appearing to be different.

That’s where marketing comes in.

To wit:

You and 1000 other attorneys in town all begin the case by interviewing the client, getting all the facts and details, and asking the same questions to flesh out what happened.

Boring, isn’t it? Not to the client.

Clients want an attorney who is thorough and works hard to get all the facts, so they can do a better job for them. Yes, other attorneys do the same thing, but if you’re the only one describing this process in your marketing, in the eyes of your market. . . you are different. Or better.

And that’s why it’s a good idea to study your competition, what they do and how they market their services.

It’s how you find ways to differentiate yourself.

For more ways, get a copy of The Attorney Marketing Formula.

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