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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What’s the secret?

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In interviews, Jerry Lewis was routinely asked for the secret to comedy. He would often ask the interviewer to repeat the question.

Before they could finish asking, Lewis would interrupt with the answer: “Timing”.

Which usually got a laugh. Because it was a display of spectacularly bad timing.

Sometimes, he’d go in for seconds. “Okay, ask me again.”

After they repeated the question, Lewis would say nothing. Dead air. Then, after a few beats, he would repeat the answer.

Yes, timing is the key to comedy, and displaying bad timing is not only a great way to make the point, it’s funny.

Sometimes, Lewis would explain the key to developing your timing: lots of practice.

You do your jokes and shtick often enough and your timing improves.

Isn’t that what Jerry Seinfeld said about his process? When he was starting out, he wrote at least one new joke every day. He’d mark an X on a wall calendar each day he did this. Eventually, he had a chain of X’s, leading to his oft-quoted advice, “Don’t break the chain.”

Because that’s how you improve any skill.

The point is that if there’s something you want to improve, a skill or a habit, you practice it. Do it often enough and you get better.

If you write every day, you become a better writer. Faster, too.

If you regularly practice your presentation, your delivery improves.

Practice is the key to improvement in sports, playing an instrument, our work.

And marketing.

If you want to get better at networking, for example, you practice networking skills.

Introducing yourself to a stranger. Building rapport. Finding out what the other person needs or wants so you can find a way to help them.

Telling someone about yourself is another networking skill. It’s also the subject of my latest book, “How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less”.

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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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