Networking math

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We tend to think of networking as arithmetic. The more people we know, the more likely it is that someone will need our services or know someone they can refer.

But it’s not arithmetic. It’s multiplication.

It’s not just about the people you know, it’s about the people they know.

A new contact may never need your services themselves, they might never send you referrals, but might know people who know people who will.

When you meet someone new, therefore, don’t look “at” them, look “through” them. Who do they know? Who could they lead you to?

If you meet your new contact in a networking-type setting where giving referrals and introductions is expected, tell your new contact what you do, describe your ideal client, and also describe your ideal referral source.

If they know someone who might be a good fit, ask them to introduce you.

If you meet them under different circumstances, it’s a longer process, but unlike a formal networking group, there’s no competition and you might make some great new connections.

One new contact might lead you to dozens of new clients; if that contact is well-connected, if they are a center of influence in your target market or your community, they might lead you to enough business to put you in another tax bracket.

Yes, it can be a lot of work. The good news is that you don’t need hundreds of new contacts to make your networking efforts worthwhile, you only need one.

Because one can lead you to many more.

How to get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals

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Use a trigger list to identify people you don’t know you know

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One of the first things you do when starting a new business or professional practice is to make a list of people you know. If it’s been awhile for you, this might be a good exercise to go through again.

Going through your high school, college or law school yearbook, for example, might help you remember people you used to know but haven’t spoken to in years.

Looking at a map might prompt you to recall your days living in another city and remember some people you knew.

Searching online lists of occupations or businesses might prompt you to remember people you know or used to know in those occupations or businesses.

As you remember names, add them to a list to contact in the future. If you remember faces but not the names, put them on a list to track down.

Is this worth the effort? You tell me.

Some people you connect with might have work for you. They might know people who need your help.

Someone might ask you to speak at their event. Someone might want to read your book or see your presentation.

And some might share the link to your website in their newsletter or on their blog, exposing your name and website to thousands of people in your target market.

Saying hello to someone you used to know could lead to dozens or hundreds of new clients for you.

Would that be worth it?

On the other hand, you might get nothing more than the opportunity to talk to some old friends and recall some old times.

Would that be worth it?

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Not all clients are created equal

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Some clients are worth more to you than others. I’m not just talking about billing or cases or revenue, or even the value of the referrals they send you—or could.

I’m talking about the people they know and could introduce you to. The doors they could open for you for networking, speaking, and publishing content. The information they have about their industry or market or local market, information that can lead you to opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

I’m also talking about the value these clients represent to you by allowing you to be seen with them. When important people in your niche see you interviewing other important people in your niche, for your blog or channel, the value of your “stock” tends to go up.

Because we are known by the company we keep.

Hold on. If you primarily represent consumers, if your clients don’t have the status and connections we’re talking about, you’re not out of luck. Your professional contacts can also provide this value.

Your homework: identify 5 or 10 of your top clients and/or professional contacts and go to school on them.

Study them and their business or industry. Find out more about what they do, how they do it, and who they know. Figure out what they can do for you (or your clients), and. . . what you can do for them.

What do they need? What do they want? What are their problems and goals?

If you can, interview them. Spend more time with them. Tell them you want to get to know better. Ask questions and take notes.

The things you learn will help you take your relationship to the next level.

Your research will help you do a better job for them as their lawyer, and for your other clients in that niche or practice area, and help you assist your inner circle in ways that go beyond your core services.

Good for them. Good for your other clients and contacts. And good for you.

There you have it. Off you go. You’ve got people to talk to and notes to take.

Make sure you have a copy of this in your backpack

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I’d like to interview you for my newsletter

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That’s you speaking to a fellow lawyer, a business contact, a client or friend. Someone you know who might have something to say your readers might like to know.

Another lawyer sharing a few tips about their practice area. An accountant or financial planner speaking about taxes, investing, debt or credit. A real estate broker speaking about your local market. Or one of your business clients talking about how they got started and sharing some advice for someone who wants to start their own business.

You tell them you’d like to interview them for about 20 minutes, over the phone, or you can email them some questions. They get exposure for their business or practice, your readers get to learn something new, and you get the day off.

Well, almost. You still need to edit the interview and post it but the hard work is done by the interviewee.

You supply the questions, they supply the answers.

If you say “pretty please,” they’ll also supply you with some of the questions. Questions they’ve been asked in other interviews or things they think your readers would find interesting.

They’ll also tell you what they’d like you to say about them. If not, grab their bio from their website.

Interviews are incredibly easy to do. They’re also a great marketing tool for you.

How so?

For one thing, some of your interviewees will ask to interview you for their newsletter or podcast. Or invite you to speak at their event or write a guest post for their blog.

You get more traffic, more subscribers, and more clients. One interview per month can bring you a lot of business.

In addition, doing interviews gives you the perfect excuse to reach out to influential people you don’t know but would like to. You’ll make some new contacts, some of whom might provide referrals and introductions to other influential people.

Are your wheels spinning? Good. Go tell someone you’d like to interview them.

Get my ebook on how to interview experts and professionals here

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2 lists that can help you build your practice

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Whether or not you do any formal networking, in the course of a day you speak to people who can help you build your practice. They know people you would like to know, they know things you would like to know, and they can do things for you you can’t do for yourself.

And they’ll help you. All you have to do is ask.

To make that more likely, I suggest you prepare 2 lists and refer to them before you speak or write to anyone.

List number 1 is a list of favors you can ask for. Little things and big things they can do to help you. Call it your, “Can you do me a favor” list.

What kinds of favors? Well, what do you want?

  • Referrals and introductions (to clients, professionals, centers of influence in your niche)
  • Information (about a market, how to do something, where to find something)
  • Advice (marketing, business strategy, management, best practices)
  • Testimonials, endorsements, reviews (for your book, your services, your capabilities)
  • Feedback/opinion (about your idea, your article, your case, your presentation, your problem)
  • Permission (to quote them, to mention their name, to use their testimonial)
  • Recommendations (which app, which method, which group)
  • To do a favor for your client or friend

People like to help. If they can give you the name of someone to talk to about your current project, give their opinion about something you can use in your next blog post, or start thinking about people they know who might need your services, most people will.

Which leads to list number 2.

List number 2 is similar to list number 1, but instead of a list of things you can ask of others, it’s a list of things you can do for others.

Ways you can help them or their clients or contacts.

When you speak to someone, prompt them to tell you what they’re working on or how things are going. When you hear something that’s on your list, offer to help.

Here’s the thing.

The more you use list number 2, the more likely you’ll get help with list number 1.

More ways to grow your practice

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Leave your baggage in the trunk

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If you’ve done a lot of networking, you may have heard the expression. It means “don’t bring your problems into the meeting”.

If you had a bad day, nobody wants to hear about it. They don’t want to see your grumpy face or listen to your complaints.

Your clients and prospects and professional contacts may know, like and trust you, but they have problems of their own and don’t want to hear about yours, any more than you want to hear about theirs. Unless it’s a legal problem and they brought their checkbook, of course.

The same goes for your partners and employees. Nobody wants to work with a Debbie or Dennis Downer.

Leave your baggage in the trunk. If you’re meeting online, put on your happy face before you turn on the camera.

This doesn’t mean you can never display emotions. You don’t have to be like Mr. Spock. Your emotions are part of who you are and you would be wooden and unlikeable without them.

But if you’re in a dark place, filled with anger or sadness or feeling sorry for yourself, don’t ask anyone to join your pity party. Reschedule the meeting or send someone in your place.

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How to instantly connect with anyone

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I was speaking to a senior adjuster for the first time, taking a moment to get to know him before we talked about the case. He happened to mention the name of a defense attorney who had handled some of his big cases. “I knew Mike,” I said, and we started swapping stories about him.

Before we knew it, forty minutes had gone by.

Granted, we were getting along fine before that, but having something in common helped us connect on a deeper level. I’m sure it also helped me settle the case.

Whenever you speak to someone new, one of the best ways to “make a new friend” is to find something you have in common.

Ask questions and get them to tell you their story. Find out who they know, where they went to school, or what they do for fun.

When you find you have something in common, it changes the dynamics of the conversation and you can bond over that commonality.

You were a stranger a moment ago; suddenly, you’re friends.

Many people bond over sports. “Did you see the game last night?” is a great conversation starter for many people. Others bond over their shared experiences of raising kids.

Listen for clues. If the other person has an accent you recognize, you might ask where they’re from. If they talk about the mess their dog left for them last night, you might ask them the breed.

Anything can help you instantly connect with someone, and start you down the path to a new relationship. It might even help you settle your case.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula

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How to use email to build your practice

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I had a new desk pad delivered yesterday. Today, I got an email from IKEA asking for feedback about my purchase. The kind of emails we’re all used to getting.

The kind of emails we should all be sending.

Do you send your clients a “how did we do” email at the end of the case? You should. Their feedback will help you improve what you do, but even if they don’t respond, your email shows your clients that you care about doing a good job for them, you’re organized, and you don’t want the case or matter to be the end of the “conversation”.

Here are a few more ways to use email to build your practice:

  • Thank someone. Look for opportunities to say thank you to the people you know and meet. Send them to clients for choosing you, being easy to work with, for their patience, for their referral or for telling someone about you.

    Send them to prospects who considered you, the adjuster or lawyer who was pleasant to work with, to the blogger or podcaster who interviewed you or mentioned you on social.

    Saying thank you shows people you noticed them and appreciate what they did. It makes them want to continue to know you and work with you.
  • Send news or information. Share articles and links with people in your network, even if they’re not subscribed to your newsletter. Share case updates with clients, in addition to your regular reports, telling them something you did for them or you’re about to do, and say something positive about their case or situation.
  • Praise someone. When you read an article or book you liked, write to the author and tell them so. When you hear about someone in your niche or local market who got an award or another accomplishment, send a note and tell them “good job”. When you hear about someone you’d like to know, write and tell them something you admire about them or their work.
  • Say hello. Write to a former client, an old friend, a former co-worker, or someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time. Say hello, you were thinking about them, and ask how they’re doing.

Emails like these can lead to phone calls, which can lead to new clients, repeat business, referrals, and friendships.

Get in the habit of sending emails like this each week and watch your practice grow.

For more on email and newsletter marketing, get my email marketing course

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Networking up

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Most networking is a slow grind. Often, it’s a complete waste of time. No wonder many lawyers avoid it.

And yet, for some, networking is a remarkable tool for generating new business, new connections, and new opportunities.

The problem is that many would-be networkers target the wrong people or groups, people who are unlikely to need their services and are able to pay for them. They may also network with people who aren’t able (or willing) to refer the kinds of clients they want to attract.

I refer to this as “networking down”.

Many lawyers network “laterally”. They’re objective is to meet “anyone who might need their services” and/or professionals and business people who can refer them.

They attend general networking groups such as chamber of commerce mixers, and meet people who are looking for business but don’t have a lot to offer in return because they aren’t in their target niche.

Lawyers who achieve excellent results network “up”–with their ideal clients, decision makers, and professionals and advisors in their niche.

Not a cross-section of people who might need a lawyer or know someone who might, but a tight-knit group of top people in a niche.

An estate planner who gets a lot of clients through networking first defines the niche they want to target–medical professionals and their advisors, for example–and then research that niche.

They learn what the people in that niche want and need, what they know, and who they know. They learn the names of the influential people in the niche, where they speak or write, and where they congregate.

They create content tailored to the niche, using examples, success stories, information and ideas specific to the niche. This content shows the leaders in the niche that they understand them, have experience with them, and are dedicated to serving them.

They offer to speak to their groups and write for their publications. They find ways to get invited to their meetings, or network outside of the meetings by building relationships with members of those groups.

If they are allowed to join a group and attend meetings, they volunteer for committees, introduce themselves to the people who run them, and promote the businesses or practices or causes of the key people they meet.

They help these key people, or their clients or customers, and earn their favor. They network with no more than a handful of small groups and avoid wasting time with groups that aren’t a good match.

They focus on quality, not quantity, and giving before expecting to receive, and that’s how they get superior results.

How to choose your niche market and ideal client

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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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