Are you sure about that?

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“I don’t know. I can’t recall. I’d be guessing.”

We like to hear things like this (sometimes) when our client is testifying but what about when we hear ourselves saying them?

They make us sound weak, don’t they?

No. They make us sound smart.

According to Jeff Bezos, “The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.”

Just when we think we’ve got this “law practice” thing working smoothly. . . that’s when we need to stop and re-assess.

What if we don’t know? What if we’re wrong? What if there’s a better way?

But do we do that?

Unfortunately, we often think we know better. We think we’re good at what we do and that’s enough. “If it ain’t broke. . .” we tell ourselves.

Sure, we take CLE, we read the journals, we keep up with the latest in our field. But all that knowledge can’t help us if we’re afraid to be wrong.

It takes courage to admit you’re not as good as should be, and courage to do something about it.

How do you develop that courage? A good place to start is to surround ourselves with people who challenge us and are willing to be honest with us and being willing to listen to them.

Early in my practice, I had people working for me who knew more than I knew and were better at their job than I was at mine. I got better at my job because I was willing to admit I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Today, I’d like to think I would be willing to do the same.

Would I? Would you?

If we’re as smart as we think we are, the right answer is “I don’t know”.

Is your email marketing as good as it could be?

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Write or get off the “can”

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Once a year my CPA sends me an inch-thick stack of forms and instructions and important tax information. I’m sure it is very good information but I’ve never read it.

It’s too much. It’s fine print. And it’s about as dry as unbuttered toast.

Maybe your CPA sends something like this to you. Maybe they send you the identical package of information, purchased from the same service (I’m sure) my CPA buys it from.

Maybe your dentist, insurance agent, or financial planner sends you an outsourced or “canned” newsletter. Maybe you send something like this to your clients.

It’s better than not sending anything to clients, but let’s face it, most people don’t read it.

There’s a better way. Send your clients something you wrote and put some of “you” into it.

Share an idea and tell them what you think about it. Tell them about one of your clients who used that idea and benefited from it. Put some personality into your message and you’ll get more people to read it.

Why is that important? Because when people read what you send them, they are reminded that you’re still around, still helping clients, still available to help them or someone they know.

And when they read your message, they learn something that can benefit them. They appreciate you for that and look forward to your next message.

Be brief. A few paragraphs in an email is enough. You’re not in the “information delivery business,” after all.

Don’t buy it from a service. And don’t send it once a year.

An email newsletter is one of the easiest ways to provide value to your clients and one of the best ways to build your practice.

You can learn everything you need to know in my new Email Marketing for Attorneys course.

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Who you know or ‘who knows you’?

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Who you know is important. But just as important is who knows you.

How many people (in your niche or market) know your name?

Or, more pointedly, how many people know someone who knows you?

Your network isn’t limited to people you know. It encompasses the people THEY know. If you know 250 people and each of them knows 250 people, you can potentially reach 62,500 people.

Whatever the size of your network, one thing is certain.

Your network is only as good as your ability to communicate with it.

If you want to notify your list of 250 people about your upcoming seminar or a new document you’ve added to your website, if you want to remind clients and prospects that you can help them (or someone they know) with their legal matter, how do you do that?

You can’t call everyone. Regular mail gets expensive. Social media limits who sees your messages.

The best way to connect with your list is email.

You own the list. You control the messages that get sent to it.

One click and your message goes to their mailbox. From there, your network can act on that message and share it with their network.

Email allows you to stay “in the minds and mailboxes” of the people who know you, until they’re ready to hire you (or hire you again) or send you a referral.

My new course, Email Marketing for Attorneys shows you how to use email to build your law practice.

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3 simple ways to quickly create content

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You need more content for your blog or newsletter or channel. You don’t have a lot of time. What do you do?

Here are 3 ideas:

(1) The simplest source of new content is old content. Find something you’ve written before and re-use it. Convert a blog post into a video or vice versa.

Or, re-write it. Add some new information or examples.

Done.

(2) Almost as simple is to re-write something written by someone else.

Find a blog post or article by someone in your niche, put it into your own words and add your own examples or stories. Or, summarize the other person’s article and comment on it–what you agree with, what you don’t, and why.

Done.

One more.

(3) Respond to comments or questions posted on your social media, blog, or in your email inbox.

You can get some of your best content this way because you’re responding to real people with real questions about things you’re already thinking about or talking about.

And, done.

Wait, what? You don’t have any comments or questions you can respond to?

No problem. Go find someone else’s blog or social media and answer one of their questions.

Now, since you don’t have a lot of time, I’ll shut up and let you get to work.

More ideas here

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Dancing with lawyers

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You know a lot of lawyers in different practice areas, don’t you? Great. Look through your list and choose a lawyer with a complementary practice to your own.

That means you target the same types of markets or clients–business or consumers, but you don’t compete with each other. You do PI, they handle divorce. You handle small business transactions, they do IP litigation. You do estate planning, they do consumer bankruptcy.

If you don’t have more than a few on your list, you’ll want to find some because you need a dance partner.

And by dance, I mean work together for your mutual benefit.

That means finding out about each other’s practices and promoting each other’s services to your respective clients and contacts.

The simplest way to do that is for both of you to email your clients and prospects and tell them about your dance partner, while they do the same for you.

Simple? Yes. And massively effective.

With a single click, hundreds or thousands of people find out about another lawyer and what they do. They also hear someone they know, like, and trust recommending them.

What will happen? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot.

Safe to say that eventually, each dance partner will get some new clients. They’ll also get new newsletter subscribers and social media contacts, leading to more business down the road.

You and your dance partner can do webinars or video chats together. You can promote each other’s content (videos, articles, blogs, seminars). You can interview each other or do guest posts for each other.

All of which will lead to more business for both of you.

And. . .

You’re not limited to lawyers. You can also dance with CPAs, insurance brokers, real estate brokers, financial planners–anyone with a client base that complements your own.

You can also dance with business owners, salespeople, consultants, vendors, and others who sell to or advise the kinds of people you represent.

This one strategy could provide you with more business than you can handle. 

Even if you have three left legs and can’t dance to save your life.

More on how to do this

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“Do Not Commit Crimes With Checks”

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On the NBA on TNT Thursday night, Charles Barkley had some advice for Jussie Smollett, causing Shaq to convulse in laughter and spit out his coffee. The crew joined in, posting a mock-up of a fake check for $3,500 made out to “Muggers” with “Mugging Supplies” penned in the memo.

Everyone’s talking about the hoax and the future of the actor’s career.

Are you?

Are you using this story (the basic story or the Barkley version) in your speaking, writing, newsletter or blog?

You could. And should. Because when you talk about what everyone is talking about, people notice.

You can leverage the story without getting into politics or racism.

How?

You could review the legal issues for your readers, tell them what happened and what could happen next.

You could mention the story and then talk about one of your clients who did something stupid, got into trouble (civil or criminal) and hired you to help them.

You could quote Barkley and then talk about something else he once said (funny, pithy, strange, or otherwise) and use that other quote to segue into a story related to your practice.

Or you could do what I just did, tell your readers what Sir Charles said and then tell them what you think, e.g., it’s funny, not funny, premature, etc.

For the record: I laughed. Out loud. Especially when I saw the mock up of the check.

Good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time.

How to use your website or blog to bring in more business

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What’s wrong with this email?

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I got an email from someone who calls himself a “wealth manager and financial advisor”. Apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn because his email begins, “Hi David. We’re connected on LinkedIn. . .”

He said, “I wanted to reach out to you personally and share important information on some of the recent Tax Changes for 2018 for Business Owners. Please enjoy this short video and give us a call if we can better assist you with your Financial and Estate Planning questions.”

What’s wrong with his approach? His email?

Is it that he oddly capitalized “Tax Changes for Business Owners” and “Financial and Estate Planning”?

Is he trying to impress me by making what he does look more important?

Ooh, he doesn’t just handle estate planning, he handles Estate Planning. He must be good.

Is it that he begins by saying, “I wanted to reach out to you personally. . .” and then says, “give US a call if WE can better assist you”?

We? What happened to “I”? Is he a member of the Royal Family?

Okay, these aren’t deal killers. But they aren’t unimportant. Little things make a difference, especially when you’re writing to a professional nit-picker.

I like that he’s offering information that might be valuable to me. (I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know.) I liked that he didn’t tell me all about himself and his practice. He provided a link to his website under his signature so I could learn more about him and his practice.

I also liked that he mentioned our being connected on LinkedIn so I would know where he got my name and wouldn’t think he was spamming professionals and business owners he finds on the Internet.

But that’s exactly what his email makes it look like he’s doing.

If he had read my profile, he would know I’m an attorney or a professional, not a business owner. Wait, Business Owner. Okay, I’m also a business owner, but he didn’t do anything to personalize his message so it looks like junk mail.

He didn’t mention anything we have in common. He didn’t say anything about my business or website. He didn’t say anything about one of my posts he liked.

Had he done any of those things, I might have watched his video or visited his website. Who knows where that might lead.

But he didn’t. So I deleted his email and will never find out if he’s someone worth talking to about financial planning or how we might work together.

A cautionary tale.

Cold emails (and calls) are a viable way to build a professional practice. Even when you send them to people who aren’t social media connections.

But if you make no effort to personalize your email or connect with the recipient, you’re just wasting electrons.

How to use email to build your practice

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Clients won’t hire you until this happens

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Last week, I talked about why you shouldn’t worry about repeating yourself in your newsletter or blog. I pointed out that new people continually join your list or visit your blog and haven’t seen what you wrote before. I said you might talk about the same subject but use different (and more compelling) arguments or examples.

An astute reader, (thanks, Michael), reminded me that I neglected to mention one of the most important reasons, that when a reader hears your message the first time, they may not be ready to hear it, or ready to take action.

Clients won’t hire you until they’re ready. And there are a lot of reasons why they might not be ready the first time you talk about a subject.

They may not understand what you said the first time they read it or realize that it applies to them.

They may not trust you yet or understand how you can help them solve their problem. They may be in denial about the risks they are facing and need to hear more information.

They may think they can’t afford to hire you and need the problem to worsen before they’re willing to take the next step. They may need time to “find” the money and hearing your message again might be just the impetus they need to do it.

There are many reasons why someone might not be ready, willing, or able to hire you when they read your message the first time or the 21st time.

That assumes they actually received and read your previous message(s), something that may or may not be true.

Stay in touch with your clients and prospects and don’t worry about repeating yourself. Repeating yourself may be exactly what you need to do because clients won’t hire you (again) until they’re ready and they aren’t ready until they’re ready.

How to bring in more business with a newsletter or blog

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If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times

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I used to make an effort to avoid repeating myself in my newsletter and blog. In fact, I once set up a “reverse editorial calendar” to record topics and the dates of each post.

Not anymore.

Aside from the fact that it’s too much work for my sorry azz, it isn’t necessary. It’s okay to repeat yourself.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this very topic before. Maybe more than once. No doubt I’ll do it again.

Here’s why I don’t worry about repeating myself, and why you shouldn’t, either:

  • Every day, new people join your list and, to them, the topic is new
  • Most subscribers don’t remember seeing the topic before, or if they do, they don’t remember the details.
  • You might make the same point but cite different facts, arguments or examples.
  • You might update something you said before, providing new results, additional information or feedback from others
  • If you’re like me (and you are), you change your mind about things, so update away.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating. See?

Anyway, if you ask me, you shouldn’t worry about what you did yesterday, last month, or last year. Write what’s on your mind today and you’ll be just fine.

Need more ideas for blog posts and emails? This will help

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Could you write an email like this?

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I just got off the phone with a young married couple who is having their first child. Josh works in tech sales. Karen does bookkeeping for a company that owns several restaurants. They were referred to me by a financial planner I know from my networking group.

They wanted to get their wills done and see if they could benefit from estate planning strategies they’d heard about from some friends.

We scheduled an appointment and I sent them to a page on my website to fill out a simple questionnaire. I also sent them information about some of the options we would discuss.

If you have questions about your estate planning options, go to [this page]. And, if you would like to talk to me about your situation or make an appointment, give me a call at [number].

— — —
No matter what your practice area, tell your newsletter readers about one of your new clients. Or tell them about an interesting case you have had in the past.

Let them see that people like them, with issues like theirs, are hiring you to help them. It reminds them about what you do and how you can help them.

Let them know that those clients were referred to you, by a client or a fellow professional. It shows them that other people trust you and look to you to help their friends and clients.

Let them know they can get information about their legal issue and your services on your website. And let them know they can call you to talk or to make an appointment.

You can add more if you want to.

You could tell them a few details about the issues in the case and what you did about them. You could add a question or two the client asked you and your answers. You could quote the client at the end of the case, expressing relief or praising you.

Let people hear what you do and how you can help them and more people will hire you. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

How to start an email newsletter

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