How to write an effective follow-up email

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“Follow-up to our call,” is not the most effective subject line in a follow-up email to someone you just met or spoke to. You want them to open the email immediately, if not sooner as my grandfather used to say.

The subject line should make them curious and/or promise a benefit, or otherwise get their attention.

Depending on the circumstances, you might use something akin to one of these:

  • “You asked for a copy of my xyz report–here it is”
  • “This [form, app, site, idea, etc.] has saved my bacon more times than I can count”
  • “I won’t be able to sleep tonight unless you do this”
  • “I was surprised when you told me this. . .”

Use humor if appropriate. And funny. (If you’re not sure, talk to my wife.)

For the body of the email, reference your conversation, thank them, and be yourself. Not your lawyer self if you can help it, your real person self.

More.

  • Keep it simple–one thought or question.
  • Keep it brief. The longer the email, the less likely they’ll be to read it.
  • Lots of white space. Short paragraphs and sentences, bullet points, and a smattering of bold and ALL CAPS, so they can skim or read it quickly.
  • Informal. You know them, now, so write like a friend or colleague.
  • Tell them what you want them to do. Ask for the sale, invite them to take the next step. Or tell them what you’re going to do next.
  • Consider using a P.S., to remind them what to do or to add something personal, eg., “Say hello to Jack from me,” or to say thank you (again).

Save your best messages as templates. Make sure to change the name of the recipient before you hit send, however. [Smiley-face goes here.]

How to market your practice with email

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Who’s on your “hot list”?

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You have contacts you want to stay in touch with. Clients, former clients, referral sources, prospective clients, centers of influence in your niche, and so on.

When you first met them or connected with them, you may have scheduled follow-up dates and stayed in touch. But you got busy, you forgot about them, or you ran out of things to talk about.

What can you do?

First, create a “hot list” of no more than 30 people you want to focus on right now–your “Focus 30” list.

Schedule time each week to look at this list. Choose one or two people and contact them.

Call, write, message them. Ask about their business, their family, their health, their latest project or their next one.

Keep notes about them and your conversations and emails. Keep a list of their websites and social platforms so you can see what they’re up to.

Keep another list of generic ideas or conversation starters, questions you can ask anyone on your list, things you can offer, things you can tell them about or invite them to.

NB: When you regularly create new content you always have something new to tell people about or offer.

Keep your list up to date. Remove people who aren’t responsive and add new ones when you find them.

Give your personal attention to your “Focus 30” and stay in touch with everyone else via your newsletter.

Here’s how to do that

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This marketing strategy may be the only one you ever need

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If you like referrals, if you like working smarter not harder, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time or money on marketing, if you want to build your practice organically and know you will never run out of clients. . .

I have some advice for you.

You can start doing this immediately. You can take tiny steps or go whole hog. You can do it in addition to everything else you do to bring in clients, or you can replace everything else with this one, simple strategy.

This:

Get to know everyone your clients and contacts know.

If you handle consumer matters, get to know your clients’ friends and neighbors and the owners and employees of the businesses they patronize.

If you have business clients (even if you don’t practice business law), get to know their customers or clients, vendors or suppliers, colleagues and competitors.

Instead of building your practice linearly, one new client or new contact at a time, build it geometrically–10, 50, 100 at at time.

Because each new client or contact is the gateway to hundreds more.

Because everyone knows other people who might need your services at some point, or know someone they can refer.

The average person knows 250 people. If you have 250 people on your current list of clients and contacts, your list can potentially reach 62,500 people.

Think about the leverage this gives you. People who know, like and trust you recommending you to people in their warm market.

When you meet someone new, don’t just look at them, look “through” them, at the people they know, because there are a lot of them.

How do you implement this? There are many things you can do.

Here’s a great place to start.

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If your net isn’t working

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Many lawyers find networking to be a waste of time. Ditto for networking online, aka Social Media. 

Some have been at it for a long time with little to show for it. They may have collected 1000 business cards from events they’ve attended, or have thousands of connections on LinkedIn (et. al.), but, their phone isn’t ringing. 

That’s because it’s not quantity that’s paramount, it’s quality. 

A handful of high-quality connections can eventually lead to a steady stream of new business for you. 

What is a high-quality connection? 

Someone who has influence in your target market. They know people who might need your services (or have clients or customers who do) and will listen to them when they recommend you.  

In other words, they have the ability to send you referrals or introduce you to business and professional contacts who can do that.  

That’s the easy part. There are plenty of people who meet that definition. 

The hard part is finding people who are willing to send you those referrals or make those introductions.

That’s a daunting task when you’re trying to sort through a thousand contacts. 

That’s why the best networkers don’t show up at events seeking to meet everyone they can. They don’t follow anyone they find on socials, hoping they will follow them back. 

Instead, they have found that the best way to meet and connect with the right people is to deliberately target them. 

Make a list of 25-50 of the most influential people in your target market. Contact them, introduce yourself, and find out what you can do to help them. 

Because helping them is the best way to get them to help you. 

Here’s how to find and approach influential people in your target market

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How to get free publicity–even if you don’t play the flute

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Legendary rock group, Jethro Tull, is lending it’s name to a new hand sanitizer. We’re told it’s reasonably priced, at a time when there’s a lot of price gouging, and all proceeds go to charity.

Nice.

I’m not sure if Ian Anderson stands on one leg to promote this but the radio spots I’ve heard do feature a lick or two of him wailing on flute.

Anyway, can you do something like this? Promote a product, service, or cause with a charitable tie in? Even if you’re not legendary?

Why not?

It’s good to do good, and you’ll look good while you’re doing it.

When your clients and prospects hear what you’re doing, they’ll likely see you in a favorable light, and tell others about what you’re doing. The cause (and you) get more exposure, more traffic to your website, and more good will.

As you get publicity, your name will get mentioned, meaning you get publicity, too.

More:

  • The charity may mention you in their newsletter and on their website. They may thank you publicly, too.
  • You can issue press releases and otherwise contact media outlets, which may mention your cause and book you for interviews.
  • You can use contact influential people in your target market, tell them what you’re doing, and ask them to join you by promoting the cause or offer to their list. In addition to helping the cause, this could lead you to marketing alliances, referrals, and introductions to others in the niche.
  • You (may be able to–check with the Bar) advertise the cause or promotion and get your name mentioned as a sponsor, without directly advertising your services

Sound like a plan?

Find a charity or cause you’d like to promote. If there is something about it that’s in the news, like the need for hand sanitizer, even better.

Talk to the company that makes the product or performs the service, and ask them what you can do to help them get the word out. See if they’ll provide you with a special offer to sweeten the deal.

And then promote it.

Let me know what you’re doing. I might mention it in a future post. If I really like it, I might bend over backwards to do it. Just don’t expect me to stand on one leg.

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

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Networking from home

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Meeting new people is easy, even from home. With a simple email, you can approach people you don’t know and begin a relationship that can lead to referrals, marketing alliances, traffic to your site, sign-ups for your list, and more.

What do you write in this email?

Tell them how you found them. Say something nice about their website or blog, article, or video, or about their story. Tell them something you have in common.

Then, ask to interview them for your podcast or video channel.

Or, invite them to write a guest post for your blog or newsletter.

Or, ask them if you can reprint their article or post, with attribution.

Or, go “old school” and ask them to tell you more about what they do. You can add that you want to see if there’s a way the two of you can work together for your mutual benefit.

Don’t say that much about your practice. Focus on them and what they do.

The goal of this email is to get a response, not to make an impression. If you don’t get a response, or they don’t seem terribly interested, move on. There are plenty of fish (lawyers, business owners, other professionals, etc.) in the sea.

When you do get a response, continue to exchange emails, invite them to a phone call or video call, and get to know more about them. Look for ways you can help them and ways they can help you or your clients.

Stay in touch and get to know them better. Just like you would if you met them in person.

If you want to learn more about how to find, approach, and network with other professionals, without leaving your home or office, my course shows you everything you need to know.

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How to get people to remember you

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You have an impressive background. You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and when you meet people, you want them to hear all about it.

You want them to know about your practice areas. You want them to know about your big-name clients and major verdicts. You want them to hear about the benefits you offer and the reasons they should hire you or refer to you.

The problem is, they don’t care about you and if you give them a laundry list of your bona fides, they’ll remember none of them.

A better strategy is to choose one thing you want people to know and remember.

Just one.

Lead with that and leave them with that. Because it doesn’t matter what you tell people, what matters is what they remember.

Take some time to think about the one thing you want people to remember. One practice area or one story that illustrates what you do or one interesting or humorous nugget of information about yourself.

When you meet someone new, tell them the one thing you want them to remember. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.

Of course, you should do most of the asking. Find out what they do, what they need or want, how you can help them or the people they know.

Give them your card, so they can visit your website if they want to know more. Which they may do if they remember you.

In case they don’t, make sure you get their card so you can stay in touch with them.

Learn more:

How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less

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If it sucks, I ducks

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A headline in an article I saw: “Networking Sucks–Do This Instead”. It wasn’t about alternatives to networking, however, it was about making networking less sucky.

Which is a good thing because if you can take the suckiness out of networking, there are a lot of benefits.

Meeting new business contacts and prospective clients is a valuable business building tactic for professionals.

So, when our ankle bracelets are removed and we’re allowed out of the house, what can we do to drain out some of the suck?

You can find ways to get yourself invited to an event, by a friend or a meeting holder, and have a wing-man available to introduce you.

You can get yourself booked as a speaker at lunches or conferences, and network with people who wait in line to meet you, get your card, and have your babies.

You can organize your own events, and thus have an excuse to invite the kinds of people you want to meet.

You can avoid formal networking completely, and do your networking only “as and when” you happen to meet people.

Or, you can use your newly acquired Zoom skills and do your networking online or over the phone.

But, let’s face it. If you’ve tried networking and hate it in every shape and form, don’t do it.

Don’t punish yourself when there are other ways to build your practice.

On the other hand. . . I have a prediction.

Once things get back to normal, a lot of people who have sworn off networking are going to have a change of heart.

Because while working from home has benefits, humans need to be around people.

So, we’ll go places and meet people and have a jolly good time.

At least for a little while. Until we remember that networking sucks and we go back to our antisocial ways.

How to get referrals from other professionals (over the phone)

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How are you doing?

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I haven’t connected with you in a while and thought I’d check in and see how you’re doing.

Or something like that.

Go through your phone or your email and contact your clients and other people you know. Say hello. Share a positive thought. Let them know you’re thinking about them.

It’s called networking and it’s a good idea on any day but especially today, when the world is on lock down and everyone is going a bit stir crazy.

And yes, you can do this with business contacts.

Remember opposing counsel on that case you had last year? That vendor you met at a conference? The web guy you hired a few years ago?

Them, too.

Ask about their work or ask them about a colleague you both know or ask them how they’re holding up.

What you say isn’t really that important. What’s important is that you show up in their in box.

Your words will be appreciated and, no doubt, reciprocated. Sometimes, your message will lead to a phone call or a video chat. You might learn something interesting or valuable.

You will keep your name in front of people who haven’t thought about you in a long time. You’ll strengthen your relationships with others.

Will this bring you repeat business? Referrals?

It might.

But don’t do it for that reason. Do it because it makes you feel good to brighten someone’s day.

How to get referrals from lawyers and other professionals

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Piggybacking on the news

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Wisconsin now allows “service of discovery notices, motions, judgment offers, and documents by email,” according to a report from the Wisconsin Bar, “if the recipient consents [thereto] in writing.”

If you like this idea and want to see something similar implemented in your state, why not take the lead on it?

No, not because you would like to see this implemented in your state–that would be a bonus. Take the lead because it gives you another way to build your practice.

How’s that?

It gives you an “excuse” to reach out to connected people in your state–legislators, big-firm law partners, well-regarded writers and editors, and so on. People who might otherwise not give you the time of day.

Pick up the phone and call someone. Write some letters. Join a Bar committee. And start talking about the issue.

Some people will share your interest. They may introduce you to others who are already talking about it.

You’ll make some new contacts. You might get invited to submit an editorial or asked to speak at an event.

You could start by contacting the folks in Wisconsin who took the lead in getting this passed. Ask for information and advice about doing something similar in your state.

Taking the lead on this, or any issue, gives you a way to stand out from the crowd and create something out of nothing.

Want some new clients? New referral sources? New places to write or speak or network? Want to get your name in the news?

Find something already in the news and start talking about it.

More ways to connect with other professionals

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