I challenge you to double your income

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Are you satisfied with where you are in your career? I hope not. I hope you’re doing well, of course, but you’re hungry for more.

If you’re complacent, that has to change. It’s time to find another itch to scratch.

I have a challenge for you. You can set the time frame but I’ll give you the goal: to DOUBLE your income while cutting your work hours in HALF.

How does that sound? Scary? Crazy? Or exciting as hell?

I can’t imagine you wouldn’t want this to happen but I can see how you might question if it is possible. So start there. A new project. To find out if this goal is possible for you and what you need to do to make it happen.

Do you know (or know of) any lawyers who earn twice as much as you do? Sure you do. But do any of them work half the hours you work? That might be a little harder to deduce because “busy” is how professionals define success. So, make that a part of the project. To find the “Tim Ferriss” of the legal world.

Contact some higher-earning lawyers and ask about their schedule. You can start with me. When I was practicing, in a short period of time I quadrupled my income and simultaneously cut my work week down to three days.

I know, I know, your practice is different, the competition is greater, the world is a different place. To which I say, “Hell yes, it’s different. For one thing, you have the Internet. It’s easier to scale up your income today than when I did it.”

Doubt me if you wish. Then, go prove me wrong.

If you’re nervous, don’t attempt everything at the same time. Start by working on the income side of the equation. Once it starts going up, work on cutting the hours.

On the other hand, you might be better off doing them together.

I think I was able to increase my income so quickly because I simultaneously cut my hours. Working less forced me to think outside the box I had been living in, to work smarter and do bigger things.

I did it because I was miserable. I had to change my life. If you’re not in the same place I was, it might be harder for you because you might be unwilling to take chances and endure the discomfort of change.

It comes down to this: To double your income and cut your work in half, you have to either be fed up or fired up. If you’re content right now, you need to find something outside of yourself—a cause, someone you want to help—and do it for them.

Fed up or fired up.

That’s my word for the day. Let me know if you accept my challenge.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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Marketing simplified

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Marketing has a lot of facts. Different things you can do to bring in business and earn more on the business you bring in. You can grow your practice by leveraging your existing clients and contacts or you can reach out to prospective new clients and the people who can refer them.

Another way to look at it is, you can either

a) build a list, through various reaching out methods (advertising, networking, blogging, speaking, etc.), or

b) work with people you know, seeking their repeat business and referrals.

Your clients have a list–their friends, colleagues, neighbors, and so on. Your professional contacts have newsletters, email lists, client lists, and personal and professional contacts.

Leveraging your existing relationships is more immediate because your clients and contacts know, like and trust you. They’re willing to hire you (if they need you), and send you referrals and make introductions. But their ability to do these things is finite and may not be enough to sustain you.

On the other hand, building a list by reaching out to people you don’t know is more difficult and takes longer. You have to attract prospects who need you now, or build a list and stay in touch with them until they do. You have to build trust and show them what you can do. You need to do the same thing with prospective referral sources.

But the list of people you don’t know is virtually unlimited.

So, what do you do?

In the beginning of your practice, you’ll obviously do more reaching out and list building. Later, when you have an established client base and relationships with other professionals, you’ll probably find it more fruitful to leverage those relationships.

If you’re somewhere between the two–not quite new but not yet ready to rely completely on repeat business and referrals–you should probably do both. And if you’re not sure where you are, keep doing both, until you’re so rich and famous you can do whatever you want.

Here’s the plan

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What to do if you hate marketing

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In my humble (but accurate) opinion, marketing is foundational to the growth of every professional practice. You have to do it. You may not like it. You may even hate it. But if you don’t do it, you’re not going to be around very long.

You could get a job. One that doesn’t require you to bring in business. If that works for you, great. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to work for someone else, you’re going to have to do something to bring in new clients.

You could find a partner who likes marketing and let them do it. Or hire people (employees, consultants, advertising agencies, etc.) and pay them to do most of the marketing for you. You write checks, they make your phone ring.

But that’s not the entire answer. Clients may call but if you have zero people skills, they’re not going to sign up or stick around.

Where does that leave us? Here’s what I suggest.

Find something—one strategy, one idea, one way to identify and communicate with prospective clients and the people who can refer them, something that doesn’t make you want to slit your wrists, and do that. Just that one thing.

Start small. Get some results. Build from there.

You can do this. Actually, you might find, as many lawyers do, that you actually enjoy doing it. You’ll certainly enjoy the results it brings.

To get started, you might have to trick yourself. Pretend that what you’re doing isn’t “marketing,” it’s just doing some writing or speaking or meeting some people and being nice to them.

Yes, that’s marketing. Marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients. But if you hate marketing that much and don’t want to admit to yourself that you’re doing it, I won’t tell anyone what you’re doing.

How to make marketing less painful. See this

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Don’t let your ego deter you from your dream

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Writer and entrepreneur, Ben Arment, said this:

“Rainmakers generate revenue by making asks. They ask for donations. They ask for contracts. They ask for deals. They ask for opportunities. They ask to meet with leaders or speak to them over the phone. They ask for publicity. They come up with ideas and ask for a few minutes of your time to pitch it. They ask for help.”

So that’s it? That’s why you don’t like marketing? Because of all the asking? Because asking makes you look weak or needy? Because it takes you out of your comfort zone? Because you’re a professional, not a business person or a sales person?

That’s your ego talking, sister. And it’s holding you back.

Arment continued:

“Don’t let rainmaking deter you from your dream. It’s one of the barriers to entry, and you can overcome it. Once you taste the sweet victory of a positive response, you’ll not only become comfortable with it, you might even enjoy it. But making asks is the only way to bring your dream to life.”

And hey, asking isn’t as difficult as you think. Start with something simple. Like this: “Here’s my card. Here’s a couple of extras, in case you run into someone who might need my help.”

Could you do that? Congratulations, you’re a rainmaker.

How to talk to clients about referrals

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Reverse engineering your big goals

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Let’s say you have a two-year goal of having 20 referrals per month coming into your practice from professional contacts.

How do you get there?

You get there by asking yourself, “What has to happen first?” and working backwards until you know what to do today.

Let’s say you estimate that you can achieve this goal by having 20 referral sources who send you an average of one referral per month.

You don’t have that now. What has to happen first?

You figure that to have 20 solid referral sources, you need 60 professionals who tell you they’ll do their best to send you business. You know that some will send you a few, some won’t send any, and some will send you more than a few. You can’t possibly know how it will work out, but you figure (for now) that it will average out to 20 referrals per month. (If it doesn’t, you’ll need to change your numbers, find different referral sources, or re-assess your strategy.)

So, what has to happen first?

To get 60 professionals who have the ability to send you referrals and say they will, you figure that, over time, you need to have conversations with 300. If 80% tell you no, that leaves 60 who say yes.

What has to happen first?

Before you can have those conversations, you need to make a list of candidates. Professionals who seem to have the right client base that would be a good match for you. Let’s say that to find 300 who seem to have the right client base, you need to work your way through a list of 2000.

What has to happen first?

First, you need to do some research and find lists, directories, associations, et al, with names and contact information. You also need to work on a script.

And then, you need to schedule the time to make calls.

And now, you have a plan. And you can start working on that plan.

For help on finding lists and creating scripts, get this

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A critical marketing skill

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Marketing requires a number of skills. One of the most important and valuable is the skill of being able to look at things the way prospective clients and others do.

Most people could use a little practice in this area.

This morning, on my walk, I saw a sign pointing to an open house. The name of the agent was on the sign, along with her phone number. I noticed that the phone number had a 714 area code, whereas the open house, where I am, is in the 949 area code.

I’m pretty sure the agent doesn’t live in the 714 area. It’s too far. My guess is that the agent used to live in 714 but moved here and kept her number. A lot of people do.

Another possibility is that the property is a “one-off” listing she’s handling in my area.

Here’s the thing.

When prospective clients, buyers or sellers, see her 714 number, some of them might think, even on a subconscious level, that she’s not the best agent for the job because she’s not local.

That’s just silly, isn’t it? Most people won’t even notice the area code. Most of those who do notice won’t care.

But some will, and instead of putting aside their doubts (or asking her about it), they’ll go with another agent.

This won’t happen often. It really won’t. But if it only happens once every other year and you factor in the loss of repeat sales and referrals, over the next ten years she could lose a bundle.

I may sound a bit nutty for thinking this, but if you don’t at least think about how people might interpret your actions and messages, you’re not thinking like a marketer.

Nutty people buy and sell houses. And hire attorneys.

It’s important to consider things like this. As you create marketing documents, update your website, talk to referral sources and prospective clients, speak, write, email, or do anything else to communicate with the world, before you click the send button or open your mouth, take a moment to do a “safety check”.

Think about how people might interpret your message. Think about the words you use and the context where your message will appear. Consider the details and nuances.

Because if you don’t, somebody else will.

Make your website great again

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Who’s coming to your party?

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If you were opening your practice this year you might hold a grand opening. Invite friends and business contacts to come celebrate with you and get some information they can share with their friends and clients and business contacts. It’s a great way to generate some momentum, make some new contacts, and take the first step toward signing up a few new clients.

Well, guess what? It’s not too late. You can hold a grand re-opening party and accomplish the same thing. Only now, it will be better because you have actual clients and referral sources you can invite. You can use the occasion to introduce your guests to other guests, helping them make some new contacts and get some new business.

You can also use your grand re-opening to make some new contacts.

In addition to inviting people you know, invite people you don’t know but would like to. Invite prospective clients, professionals, business owners, and other centers of influence in your niche market or community. Invite people who can hire you or recommend you. Invite people who are influential with a big network of contacts you’d like to target.

It’s your party; you get to make the guest list.

Imagine what your practice will be like by next year at this time if you invite 50 centers of influence to your party this year.

Everyone loves a party. Start making your list.

Once you meet them, here’s what to do with them

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Different vs. better

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You often hear me urge you to tell prospective clients (et. al.) how you are “better or different” from other lawyers who do what you do.

What’s the difference?

“Better” means that you deliver more value or better results. It might also mean that you give your clients better service–making them more comfortable with you and the process.

And it might also mean that you do things for them that go beyond the core services you are hired to deliver. An example might be your reputation for helping clients find other professionals, vendors, or business connections, for matters unrelated to the legal work you’re doing for them.

Okay, what about “different”?

Different often means you do what you do in ways other lawyers don’t do it. You conduct the first interview personally, for example, instead of having a staff member do it. Or you make house calls. In communicating with your market, your job is to translate how your differences are  “better” for the client.

Being different is also a way to stand out in a crowded market. You might always wear purple neckties, for example; that’s different, not better, of course. But if people remember you via your signature color, you’ll have more opportunities to talk to prospective clients and show them how you are better.

Look for ways to differentiate yourself from other lawyers. Show them how you are better. If you aren’t better, be different. You do that by being yourself.

Ultimately, most clients aren’t going to hire you because you offer dramatically better legal services than other lawyers. They’ll hire you because of you.

How to earn more without working more: the formula

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20 calls a day

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I listened to a podcast featuring a sales trainer for a very successful real estate broker. He said his brokers are asked (required?) to make 20 calls a day. They can do more, but 20 calls are the minimum expected of them.

I assume these calls are to property owners who might be open to selling. The goal is to get a listing appointment, or failing that, to find out when the property owner might be open to that and scheduling a date to contact them again. They would also ask for referrals.

The sales trainer said that consistently making 20 calls a day allows the brokers get enough listings and sales to earn a substantial income.

Okay, 20 calls a day (five days a week) is not difficult. I would think you can get it done in an hour or two, leaving enough time for appointments and other things agents do.

Can lawyers do something like this? Yes and no:

Problem: Lawyers usually aren’t allowed to cold call prospective clients

Solution: call prospective referral sources. Introduce yourself, ask about their practice or business, invite them to meet you or offer to send them information. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn what to say and do, with lawyers and with other professionals.

Problem: Lawyers don’t have time to make 20 calls a day

Solution: Make 10 calls. Or 2.

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls on your behalf.

Solution: Calling is best, but email can work too.

Problem: Lawyers don’t want to make calls

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls, or send emails.

Contacting prospective referral sources (or prospective clients if you are permitted to do so) isn’t the only way to build a law practice, just as it’s not the only way to build a real estate business. But it is one of the best.

Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals

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The year everything changes

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15 minutes a day. You’ve heard me repeatedly preach and pound on that theme. I’ve told you that you can make a lot of progress towards your practice-building goals with just 15 minutes of marketing effort per day.

“Put it on your calendar, as an appointment with yourself,” I’ve said, “and keep that appointment. If someone wants to see you or talk to you during that time, they’ll need to wait until you’re done with your appointment.”

So, are you doing it?

If not, it’s a new year and it might be a good time for you to start.

I don’t know how I could possibly make this any easier for you—it’s only 15 minutes, after all—but I’m going to try. But you have to meet me half way.

Let’s start with some affirmations. This is you talking:

  1. “I want to get more clients, and better clients, and increase my income.” Go ahead and say that. Out loud. Click your heels 3 times, and say, ‘there’s no place like home’. Okay, you can skip the last part.
  2. “I understand that marketing is vital to the growth of my practice and I am ready to do it.”
  3. “I can work on marketing 15 minutes every weekday and I am committed to doing it.”

Are you with me? Are you ready to do this?

Remember, I’ve said (more than once) that you can start anywhere–sitting and thinking about marketing, reading about marketing, writing down marketing ideas, names of people to contact, or anything else. And, if you don’t know what to do, it’s okay to do nothing. Sit and stare at a wall. Just keep that appointment with yourself and don’t do anything else during that time.

Yes?

Okay. I think you’re ready for the missing piece of the puzzle. The key that unlocks the door to creating your new habit.

Get out your calendar. Not your task list. This is an appointment, remember?

Open to the week view and schedule a 15-minute marketing block, for tomorrow, as the first appointment of the day. Make it repeat every weekday.

The key is to make this your first activity. Before court or any other appointments. It’s important, right? You’re committed to it, right? So it should be done first thing. That way, you’ll get it done. You’ll also affirm to your inner child (the one who doesn’t want to do this) that it is important and you’re doing it.

Now, keep that appointment. Do it for two months and watch what happens. I promise, if you do that, you’ll see amazing things happen.

Make this your new habit of the new year and this will be the year that everything changes.

Key marketing strategies

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