How to avoid feeling unprofessional

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Does marketing ever make you feel less than professional? Do you ever tone down your message or convey it less often because you don’t want to appear pushy or needy?

Why don’t you stop?

Stop writing articles and doing presentations. Stop blogging, networking, and advertising. Stop sending your clients anything other than what’s related to their case.

Stop marketing. And see where that gets you.

Or. . .

Continue doing what you’re doing, but change your approach.

And by approach, I mean your attitude. How you feel about what you’re doing.

Because if you feel better about it, you’ll do it more easily and more often and reap the benefits thereof.

How do you do this?

You reframe your marketing to see it for what it really is: another way to help people.

Do you truly believe you can help people? Not just with your services, but with what you show them and tell them even before they hire you?

Do you believe that providing them with information about their situation and the solutions and options that are available to them can comfort them and give them direction? Help them make better decisions, minimize their damages and pain, avoid additional problems, and otherwise make their life better?

Good. Now think about what prospective clients are going through just before they contact you and hire you.

Have you ever had a problem and gone online to see what you can do to fix it, or to find someone who can help you?

When you found the information or the person, did you feel better about your problem?

Ah, so you do understand how your prospective clients feel. You know what they’ve been going through.

Okay, then. Instead of framing marketing as self-promotion and distasteful to the extreme, think about it from the prospective client’s point of view.

Think:

People want to hear from me about this; they’re hurting and looking for answers. They don’t know what to do or where to turn and I’m doing them a lot of good by sharing some of my knowledge and wisdom and helping to guide them from where they are to where they want (and need) to be.

And I feel good about that.

You’re not a burden, you’re a welcome guest in their inbox. Instead of holding back on what you might give them, give them more.

That’s reframing. That’s how you see your marketing as a way to help people.

Is it okay if that leads to more business for you?

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Will it work?

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How do you know if your marketing strategy will be effective? Will your article get calls, will your newsletter get subscribers, will your ads bring in leads?

How do you know? You don’t. You don’t know anything until you try it.

So you try lots of things and lots of different versions and you see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s called, “Plan, Do, Review”.

But with so many options available, how do you know what to try?

You read and watch videos. You observe what other lawyers are doing (that’s working), and what other professionals and small business owners do, too. You soak up a lot of ideas and choose one (just one), that you can see yourself doing, and you try it.

You might not stick with that idea and that’s okay. Everything you try has value. You might learn that you have zero aptitude or interest in doing (something) and either cross that off your list, delegate it to someone on your staff or hire someone else and pay them to do it for you.

Maybe you still like the idea, but you need help. You could hire a consultant to guide you, or outsource the entire project.

You could get a “workout partner,“ another lawyer or business contact or friend who is good at what you’re trying to do, or who is on the same path as you—trying to learn and implement the idea, and help each other.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you need accountability to keep you on course. That workout partner might serve that function, or you might hire a coach.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you want to get better results. You keep reading, take a class or course, and keep at it. In time, you get better and so do your results.

Or maybe you’re not getting any results to speak of but want to keep at it. How do you do that? How do you find the motivation to continue when nothing is happening?

You think about other things you’ve done in your life that were successful but had less than auspicious beginnings. Or think about your goals and why it’s important that you do this.

Or call your mom and cry on her shoulder.

Finally, maybe you’re doing it and getting decent results, but what you’re doing is taking time away from other things you’d like to try. Other things that might get better results or be a better match for you.

What do you do?

You either slow down or pause what you’re doing, to give you time to try the other idea, or you dedicate more time to marketing. Instead of one hour a week, for a while, you do two hours, do both, and find out what works best.

These are your options. This is how you find out if something will work.

This will help you create a simple but effective marketing plan

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Play the long game

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If things aren’t going the way you want right now, if your practice isn’t growing like you hoped, if you messed up something or your personal life is a dumpster fire, don’t freak out. Don’t panic. Keep calm and carry on.

But how?

How number one:

Find one thing that’s going right for you and focus on that. Think about it throughout the day, imagine it getting bigger and better, and enjoy that feeling. What you think about grows and if you think about what’s working for you, other things will start working.

It is law.

How number two:

Think in years, not days. This week there might be disappointments or challenges, but that doesn’t mean things will be the same next week. Or next year.

Ask “How will I feel about this a year from now? Will it even matter?“

Probably not.

Life might deal you some bad cards, but this doesn’t mean all your cards will be bad.

Five years from now, when today’s challenge is a distant memory, you’ll be playing a different hand. You will have recouped the loss, solved the problem, overcome the pain, found a new love, and be in a very different place.

That’s life.

Don’t dwell on the bad hands. Keep playing. Play the long game.

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Better today than yesterday

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A legal career is a long journey. You start out as a new puppy, trying to find your legs and learn about the world. Everything is exciting and new, and nothing is easy.

I remember those days. Figuring out the forms, learning how to talk to clients, negotiate, write documents, litigate, and do all manner of important things for the first time.

It was difficult, but I only had a few clients and plenty of time to figure things out. I was young and hungry and scared, but I enjoyed the newness of it all.

If you’re at this stage, cherish this time for what you are learning and who you are becoming.

As I got busier, I entered another phase, with bigger problems to solve, more clients to juggle, and much longer hours. I was busy, but I wasn’t making much money. I still had a lot to learn, especially the business of practicing law.

I got serious about marketing, made changes, and brought in more clients and bigger cases. I was able to hire more help and while I was busier than before, I no longer “lived” at the office.

If you’re at this stage, appreciate all that you’ve done to get here and the many discoveries and adventures that lie ahead.

One day, I realized things were just working. I had money, lots of work and lots of help, and I knew what I was doing. I was busy but not busier than I wanted to be, and I was happy that I could continue doing it without the struggles of days gone by.

If you’re at this stage, congratulations. You made it to the top. Your career is in high gear and you have options. You can continue to grow and take things to an even higher level or you can re-direct some (or all) of your resources into other things—business, investments, philanthropy, writing or speaking, or fun.

Wherever you are right now, whatever phase of your journey, you are precisely where you’re supposed to be. Appreciate where you are and where you’ve been, and get excited about where you’re going.

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Catastrophizing

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The end of the world is not nigh. The worst-case scenario isn’t a done deal. We’re not all on death’s door.

No matter how bad things (sometimes) appear, there’s plenty to appreciate, plenty to be hopeful about, and plenty we can do to make things even better.

When I see people saying otherwise, I tell myself, “they don’t understand” and hope that changes soon. I say the same thing when I see people ignoring reality, refusing to do their homework, and turning a blind eye to common sense.

Be careful what you read and who you listen to. Use discernment. Many people are mistaken. Many have an agenda. And many are so beaten down they’ve given up. Or just want to complain.

There may be plenty to complain about, but complaining isn’t going to help.

Refusing to submit to oppression helps. Standing up for the aggrieved helps. Offering a warm embrace to those who need it helps.

But what helps more than anything is being positive.

Let others see we’re not losing our minds, our principles, or our souls. We love life and our fellow man. And we’re excited about the future.

They may call us naïve or foolish. We’ll just smile and say, “they don’t understand” and hope that changes soon.

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Reframe and grow rich

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Many attorneys are uncomfortable with marketing. Or at least certain aspects of it. They don’t like networking, writing, or talking to people about referrals. They don’t like doing interviews or presentations. They don’t like advertising, generating traffic, or buying leads.

It’s out of their comfort zone and they resist doing it.

The old saying, “Do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable” comes to mind, but if you can’t or won’t start, you’re never going to get there.

There are two solutions.

The first solution, instead of trying to “jump” out of your comfort zone, ease out of it. Take baby steps until you learn to walk.

Make a list of options, different types of marketing and different ways of doing them, choose one, learn all you can about it, get some help if you need it, and do it on a very small scale, until you “get used to it”.

You don’t like networking? Take a friend to lunch or ask to accompany them when they go to their next meeting. Get your feet wet in a non-threatening situation where nothing is expected of you other than showing up.

You might find you don’t hate it as much as you thought and can eventually take the next step.

You don’t like talking to people about referrals? Try writing a letter to your clients about the subject and how it helps both them and the people they refer. Don’t send the letter, just write it for now. Maybe you’ll send it later. Or maybe you’ll read one of my books or courses and find better ways to ask or ways to get referrals without asking for them.

Baby steps, baby cakes.

The other solution? Sit yourself down and have a talk with yourself.

Talk to yourself about the activity you’re resisting and why you’re resisting it. Pretend you’re talking to a parent or teacher, and tell them all the reasons you don’t want to do it. Don’t forget to pout and say, “and you can’t make me!”

And then, talk to yourself as that parent or teacher and convince yourself that you can and should.

One way to do that is to reframe the activity by changing how you think about it, or contrasting it with the alternatives.

You did that somewhat if you looked at networking as just going to lunch with a friend.

You could explain to yourself that writing a weekly email may not be something you’re excited about doing, “but it’s a lot better than going to a weekly meeting” (if that works for you).

If you don’t advertise because you see it as an unnecessary expense, think about it as a investment which could have a very profitable return. Talk to someone who advertises, see what they do, play with some numbers, and you may find a way to eliminate your resistance and get excited about the possibilities.

Maybe you hate social media. You might remind yourself that, “It’s a lot better than cold calling or sending spam emails”.

You don’t want to do any marketing, it’s all horrible? Reframe this by telling yourself it’s a lot less horrible than having no clients and being one month away from getting evicted from your office, which is where I was early in my career, before I “got religion” and saw marketing as a better alternative to losing everything.

Baby steps and/or reframing. Two ways you can do what’s uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.

How to get referrals without asking for referrals

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How to make next year your best year

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You’ve probably seen a spate of articles and blog posts about things to do in the coming year to improve your law practice marketing and management.

No doubt these articles contain some good ideas for bringing in new clients, being more productive, lowering your expenses and increasing your income.

Save those articles and try those ideas. But not right now.

Most of these ideas will deliver only incremental improvement. If you want to make next year your best year, you need an idea, strategy or tactic that will help you double or triple or ten-times your income.

Find that idea, your “one thing,” and focus all of your attention on it.

No, I can’t tell you what it is. It’s different for everyone. I can only tell you it’s there and if you look for it and allow yourself to find it, you will.

Meditate, pray, ask your inner being for guidance. Let your subconscious mind go to work for you and point you in the right direction.

The thing is, there’s a good chance you already know what it is. You considered it once but rejected it, telling yourself it won’t work, it’s too risky, it takes too much time, or it’s just not for you.

Or you allowed someone to talk you out of it.

But it’s still there, lying dormant in your subconscious, and all you need to do to activate it is to give yourself permission to do that.

On the other hand, it might be something you’ve never considered. You never looked. You were too busy cranking out work and never needed to do much else.

Maybe today things are different.

If so, your “one thing” is to devote yourself to finding that one idea and get it up and running.

How will you know you’ve made the right choice? Don’t use logic to answer that. Use your gut.

The right idea feels good when you think about it. Exciting. Scary, too, but fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin, so if you feel either way, you’ve probably found your one thing.

If you feel indifferent, keep looking.

When you find (or remember) an idea that scares or excites you, what then?

Don’t study it. No research. No pondering. Don’t set any goals or new year’s resolutions, either.

Just start.

Allow yourself to get swept up in the excitement and do something. Take the first step. It doesn’t matter what it is, just move.

You’ll learn what you need to know and do as you do it.

And that’s how you’ll make next year your best year.

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Asking for help

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I don’t do it as much as I could. Or should. You may be the same. Asking for help feels like you’re being needy. A burden.

But what if it’s not?

What if there are people out there—on your email list, following you on social, in your building or on your list of contacts—who would love to help you?

If you asked, they’d be delighted to answer your questions. Share your page. Recommend your practice. Review your book.

What if some people get as much out of helping you as you hope to get when they do?

My suggestion, to you and to myself, is to try it and find out. Look for opportunities to ask for help, and to appreciate the help you get and the people who give it.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking for help, remember this. . . When you are good at asking, you allow others to enjoy giving.

What a wonderful feeling for both of you. At this or any time of the year.

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It takes as long as it takes

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You’re writing a blog or a newsletter. You’re doing interviews, podcasts, videos, or presentations. You’re regularly posting on social, making new contacts, or advertising..

And it’s just not happening.

You’re not seeing a significant bump in clients. Nothing is happening, so why bother?

Well, maybe you shouldn’t bother. Maybe you should pull back on some of your “external” marketing, or stop doing it completely.

Or maybe the breakthrough is right around the corner.

Someone hears or reads you and becomes your next big client. Someone likes your face and your voice and starts referring their clients to you. Someone shares your blog post with someone with a big following and your subscriber list blows up, followed by your client list.

You never know what might happen, or when. One big case or client or opportunity might make everything you’ve done more than worth it.

So, think of this as a long-term investment. Because that’s what it is.

Along the way, in the short term, you might make enough money to cover your costs and your time. Maybe even earn a nice profit.

Or you might not. Let that be okay. It’s an investment.

Keep going, but don’t do it blindly. Look for ways to do it better or make your investment go further.

Keep going. As you become more skilled, more knowledgeable, and more confident, you’ll get better results. Things will happen more quickly.

Keep going, even though you may not see a lot of growth in the client or revenue department just yet, because those aren’t the only results that count.

There is tremendous value in the lists and relationships you’re building. Those lists and those relationships are your as yet unrealized future.

And they could be worth a fortune.

How to create a simple marketing plan that works for you

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No shortcuts?

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We’re told we have to put in our dues, meaning we have to do the work and give it time. We’re told it takes hard work and we shouldn’t try to beat the system. We’re told it takes as long as it takes and there’s nothing we can do to speed things up.

But this isn’t true.

Knowing the right people is a shortcut. Knowing people who can send you business, give you good advice, and introduce and endorse you to key people in your niche or market will almost always shorten your path to success.

Timing is a shortcut. Investing in precious metals before massive inflation destroys the value of paper currency can lead to great wealth. Starting a new practice area before other lawyers realize its potential could help you get the lion’s share of the business.

The Pareto Principle is another shortcut. Figure out the 20% activities in your work that lead to 80% of your results, do more of those 20% activities, and you can multiply your results.

Personal development is perhaps the ultimate shortcut. Increasing your knowledge, improving your skills, becoming a better leader and communicator, are the very stuff of success.

So yes, there are shortcuts. But there are no guarantees.

So, while you’re looking for shortcuts, you might want to cover your bets by working hard and giving things time.

No, hard work won’t guarantee your success or speed up the process. But it might help you find some shortcuts that do.

More shortcuts for building bigger, faster

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