So simple, so easy to mess up

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Have you ever been interviewed and had the interviewer try to “share the stage” with you, talking too much instead of asking questions?

I have and it’s not good.

When you are invited to be the guest on a podcast or conference call, the host should edify you to their audience. They should present your background, say nice things about you, and make you look every bit like the expert you are.

They should make you look like you walk on water and glow in the dark so their audience will get excited about hearing you.

If they did that and then talk over you or share too much of their own knowledge and experience, they de-edify you.

Why did they invite you if they know what you know?

The host should introduce you, ask questions and let you do most of the talking. They shouldn’t interrupt you or contradict you or do anything that detracts from your image as an expert.

That doesn’t mean they can’t ask some sharp questions. It means they shouldn’t do anything to make you look bad.

Not in that kind of interview, anyway.

Edification is an important skill and it’s not that difficult. Take yourself out of the picture (mostly) and shine the spotlight on your guest.

Edification can also be used when you make a referral to another professional, introduce a guest at your event to another guest or to the speaker, or when you recommend a product or service or resource.

The only place you shouldn’t use it is when you’re talking about yourself.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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Hack your next networking event

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If you’ve ever tried networking and stopped, no doubt one reason was that you weren’t getting any business out of it.

Sure, there are other benefits to networking. It’s fun to hang out with people you like and have something in common with. It’s fun to see and be seen.

But if building your network and your practice is a primary reason for networking and it isn’t happening, or you’d like to make your next networking function more productive, according to a study, there’s one simple thing you should do.

Go somewhere new.

Find a new meeting, a new group, a new event, where nobody knows you.

According to the study, “people who are already embedded in a social network of friends and advisors don’t network much at all,” said Sharique Hasan, an associate Professor Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, who conducted the study.

He said, “Once you have a network in place, you tend to explore less. As a result, you likely miss out on opportunities to learn from new people who might be sitting next to you.”

Bottom line, if you network to have fun, stick with what’s familiar. But if you network to meet new people, learn new ideas and discover new opportunities, don’t go to Cheers (where everybody knows your name), go somewhere new.

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Two ways to grow your business practice

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You want to grow your firm–bring on some major clients who provide status and billings and open doors to other clients of a similar ilk.

You don’t have family or business connections that can deliver those types of clients (or you would already have them). What can you do?

The usual strategy is to find ways to network with people who own, manage, or advise the kinds of clients you want to acquire. Promote their business or cause, introduce them to people who can help them, or otherwise add value to the relationship.

One of their existing attorneys may retire, screw up, or have a conflict, and you may get the nod.

Or, one of your new friends will introduce you to some of their contacts–smaller companies in their niche who need legal help, or people who know them.

You might offer these smaller clients a sweet deal because one of these companies may take off and you can grow with them. Plus, you’ll have your foot in the industry door.

Just being able to say you represent a certain company or you are on a board with some of the players in the industry may elevate your status enough to allow you to attract bigger clients.

All of this will be easier if you focus on a niche market. You’ll have an edge over other firms because of your specialized knowledge and connections. You’ll know the issues, the people, the trends, and you can provide more value to people in that niche.

So, that’s the usual way to do it. Hard work, provide value, bide your time.

But there is another way.

You can hire (or merge with) attorneys (or firms) that already have the types of clients you want.

Offer them a good deal because they can bring you more clients like their existing book of business.

This can help you choose your niche

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Getting referrals from people you don’t know well

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Yesterday, we talked about using email to reach out to strangers, to see if there’s a basis for initiating a relationship.

But don’t forget the people you already know.

Friends, clients, colleagues, people you’ve worked with–your close contacts can and will send you business, so stay in touch with them, too. An email newsletter is a simple way to do that.

And. . . don’t ignore your casual contacts. Professionals you’ve met once or twice, vendors, consultants, bloggers, and others who sell to or advise people in your target market, can open a lot of doors for you.

These so-called “weak ties” may be a great source of referrals and other opportunities.

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, said:

“In fact, in landing a job, Granovetter discovered, weak-tie acquaintances were often more important than strong-tie friends because weak ties give us access to social networks where we don’t otherwise belong. Many of the people Granovetter studied had learned about new job opportunities through weak ties, rather than from close friends, which makes sense because we talk to our closest friends all the time, or work alongside them or read the same blogs. By the time they have heard about a new opportunity, we probably know about it, as well. On the other hand, our weak-tie acquaintances— the people we bump into every six months— are the ones who tell us about jobs we would otherwise never hear about.”

Schedule time each week to check-in with a few casual contacts. Send an email, ask what they’re working on, give them some news, or share an article or video you found that might interest them.

Some of these casual contacts will bear fruit, merely because they heard from you and were reminded about what you do and how you can help them or their clients.

But don’t leave it at that.

When the time is right, tell them what you’re looking for. Ask for information or an introduction. Or ask for advice.

Because your casual contacts can open a lot of doors for you, some of which you didn’t know even existed.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Finding your inner Stormtrooper

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Just read an article in the ABA Journal about an Arizona lawyer who loves Star Wars and “dressing up or ‘cosplaying’ as a Stormtrooper.”

She attends conventions, marches in parades, and belongs to an international organization of thousands of fans who have fun and raise money for charities. She also does some legal work for her local chapter of the organization.

Some lawyers would say that dressing up is unprofessional. Some would say it’s a waste of time.

I would say, nicely done.

C’mon, she gets to get out of the office and spend time with people who share her passion. She gets to raise money for hospitals. And, instead of building her network at boring Chamber of Commerce meetings, she’s building her network doing something she loves.

Not to mention getting an article in the ABA Journal about her.

I did a coaching call yesterday with a lawyer whose practice needs a shot in the arm. One thing we talked about is getting out of the office, doing something different, and meeting some new people.

I don’t know if he’s a Star Wars fan but I hear the Rebel Forces are recruiting.

Marketing your practice starts with The Formula

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Three’s Company

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Last night I watched a “Where are they Now?” video about the old TV show, “Three’s Company”. It was good to see some familiar faces and how they looked today, and sad remembering how young John Ritter was when he left us.

In the comments, someone asked, “What was the name of the bar they always hung out at?”

Do you remember?

Jack and Janet and Chrissy went there a lot. They met up with Jack’s friend, Larry. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Roper showed up. And Mr. Furley. (I loved Mr. Furley. I loved everything Don Knotts did.) 

I haven’t seen the show in decades but of course, I remembered the name of “The Regal Beagle”.

Anyway, it was good remembering a show that provided so many laughs and a simpler time. The beautiful women didn’t hurt.

Oh, do you remember the time Jack fell over the sofa. . .

Anyway, my point isn’t to confess that I spent too much time watching TV back then. It’s that if you have some of the same fond memories of Three’s Company, you and I have something in common and if we were having this conversation in person, we would bond over those memories.

When you meet someone for the first time, sharing a memory or a common interest can do wonders for getting everyone to relax and feel good about each other.

If I walk into your office for the first time and see you have a chess board on your credenza, you and I are going to have something to talk about. I like you already. Unfortunately, we may not get any work done.

Popular culture–TV, movies, books, sports, games, the news (be careful that one, however), are all fodder for finding common ground with people we meet.

They’re also good subjects to put in your blog or newsletter.

What’s on your blog?

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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Suppose your first name is David. And suppose you’re in a semi-public setting and someone you’ve met before comes up to you and says, “Hi David.”

Do you think, “Nice. He remembered my name.”

We like hearing our name, don’t we? Dale Carnegie told us “A person’s name is the sweetest sound.” The late Herb Kelleher made a point of remembering and using the first names of his employees, and they loved him for it.

Research tells us that hearing your first name activates different parts of your brain than hearing the names of other people. “Adults never tire of hearing their name,” the researchers said.

But hold on.

What if it’s a young person addressing you and you’re old enough to be their father? Or they’re a client and you’re their attorney? Or you’ve just spoken on stage and someone in the crowd comes to ask you a question?

Wait, one more. You have a new secretary and, day one, she calls you by your first name. 

I’ve had all of the above happen to me. When they do, I’m thinking, “How about a little respect? How about asking if it’s okay to use my first name?”

But then I’m old-fashioned. Or a stuck-up pain-in-the-ass, take your pick. 

I was taught to respect my elders, say please and thank you,  smile when you meet someone and pay attention when someone else is talking.  

You know, manners. 

Be nice if more people minded their manners and showed people a little respect.

But then I’m old-fashioned. Or a stuck-up pain-in-the-ass, take your pick. 

Want more referrals? Of course you do

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If you hate networking, this might be why

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You might say that networking hasn’t been a fruitful use of your time but you can’t say it’s difficult. It’s easy to meet people, start a conversation, exchange pleasantries, and chat about what you do. It’s easy to exchange cards (or digits).

Where many professionals drop the ball is with follow-up.

You come home with new contacts (or renewed contacts). Now what? What happens next?

Do you call or email? When? What do you say?

That’s simple. No really, it is. You immediately send your new contact an email (or better, a handwritten note), tell them you enjoyed meeting them and note something from your conversation.

Okay, I can do that. I always do that. Then what?

Then you call. You talk to them and ask them to tell you more about what they do. Or you invite them to coffee or lunch so you can have that conversation.

You ask questions and let them do most of the talking. You find out what they need or want (clients, information, ideas, introductions, etc.) and think about how you (or your other contacts) can help them.

At some point, they ask you to tell them more about what you do (and what you need or want). You tell them and explore how the two of you might work together, e.g., referrals, introductions, interviews, guest posts, webinars, etc.

Or not.

Yeah, they might turn out to be a dud.

They may not have anything they can do for you or anything they’re willing to do. There may be no future for the two of you. Or it may take additional meetings and conversations before the two of you are able to dance.

That’s life. That’s why you don’t stop after you meet one new contact. That’s why follow-up isn’t a one-time thing.

The fact is, you might strike out with the next ten people you meet. You might think, “I hate networking” and be ready to give up.

Or, the very next person you meet might lead to a steady stream of new business for you and you’ll say “networking rocks”.

How to get better results when networking with professionals

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How to start a conversation without sounding creepy

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I just read an article based on an interview with Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s “Fresh Air”. Over the last 40 years, she’s conducted thousands of interviews and offered her advice on the best way to start a conversation.

The only icebreaker you need, she said, is to say: “Tell me about yourself.”

She says “this is much more effective than the dreaded, “So what do you do?” because you don’t make any assumptions about the other person.”

She prefers her way because it, “. . . allows you to start a conversation without the fear that you’re going to inadvertently make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious. Posing a broad question lets people lead you to who they are.”

Naturally, I have a few thoughts about this.

First, if you know your audience and you’ve done your homework on the person you’re interviewing, you should be the one in the lead. If you leave it up to the interviewee, they’ll take you places you and your audience don’t necessarily want to go.

Second, making people a bit uncomfortable can lead to a more interesting interview.

Okay, this is coming from a lawyer, not the host of a cultural events show, so take it for what you will. But you know I’m right, don’t you?

Anyway, I picked up the article because I thought I’d learn a new way to start a conversation with a stranger, while networking for example. Something better than, “What do you do?”

Nope.

If a stranger comes up to me and says, “Tell me about yourself,” I’m pretty sure I’d be creeped out and say something like, “Why do you ask?” or “Who the hell are you?”

I have issues.

Seriously, if you want to start a conversation with a stranger, stick with what other people expect to hear and are prepared to respond to.

You can pick up on something you see or you heard them say. You can pay them a compliment, e.g., “I like your tie”. Or you can ask a simple question, e.g., “Have you heard this speaker before?”

Easy. Everyone’s comfortable.

Once you’ve broken the ice and you’re having a conversation, ask them “What do you do?” Because you want them to ask you what you do.

And, if you’re conducting an interview, for a podcast or video or because you’re writing a book, get my book, The Easy Way to Write a Book. You’ll learn some non-creepy ways to start the conversation and get to the good stuff.

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4 simple steps to building your contact list

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Want to meet some new people (prospective clients, professionals, influencers. . .) without leaving your home or office? Want to do it by investing just a few minutes a day?

Okay, listen up. Here’s what to do:

Step one: Choose a category

What type of contacts would you like to add to your list? If you want to “meet” other lawyers, which practice areas? If you want to meet business owners, executives, or prospective clients, which type of business or industry?

Step two: Make a list

Find a directory, list, or some websites comprised of the kinds of people in your chosen categories. Note their contact information.

Step three: Create an “excuse” to contact them

It could be to invite them to an event you’re hosting or promoting (e.g., a meetup, golf tourney, charitable event, membership drive, restaurant opening for one of your clients or friends, etc.)

It could be to invite them to speak at your event, post an article on your blog, let you interview them for your video channel, or fill out a survey you’ve posted.

It could be to meet you for coffee because you have something in common (target market, client, neighborhood, practice area) and you want to see how you might work together.

It could be because a mutual client, business contact, or friend said something nice about them and you wanted to “meet” them.

Step four: Call

Yes, call. It’s much more effective than email or a letter for a first contact. You want them to see you as a real person, not a faceless collection of electrons spamming their inbox. You want them to hear your voice and you want to hear theirs.

And hey, if a conversation ensues, that’s a good thing.

Introduce yourself, tell them where you got their name, say something nice about them (e.g., you like their website, you heard nice things about them), and invite them to speak, meet, write, etc.

If they’re not in, leave a message. Circle back to them at another time.

Told you it was simple.

How to get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals

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