Help! I don’t know anyone!

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You may be a new lawyer or moving to a new city or state. Or you might be at a point in your career where you realize you need to meet some new people.

There are a lot of things you can do; here are 3 of the best:

(1) Ask for introductions. Contact people you know and ask them to introduce you to a professional or business contact in your target market. Be specific about the type of people you’d like to meet, but not so specific they can’t think of anyone who fits that description.

Even better, ask them to introduce you to someone you know they (probably) know, someone influential you’d like to meet. If they hesitate to do that, ask them if you can use their name, and contact them yourself.

(2) Join something. Networking can be a drag, but it’s a good way to quickly meet some new people. Find organizations and groups in your target market, attend their meetings, introduce yourself to the leadership, and volunteer on a committee or two. You might meet someone who knows someone who needs your services or knows people who do.

You’ll also learn more about your target market and the people in it, and be able to use that in your marketing.

(3) Write something. A report, guide, or checklist that people in your target market might find helpful, and offer it to everyone you know and everyone you meet. It’s a great way to give people a “sample” of your expertise, and interest them in learning more.

One of the best things you can write is a book. Being an author, by definition, makes you an authority, and people want to hire and refer authorities. They also want to talk to them when they meet them, and interview them for their blog or podcast.

If you have a collection of articles or blog posts, cobble them together and self-publish your first book. If not, start typing. Or dictating.

Clients, and the people who can refer them, are everywhere. These strategies can help you meet them.

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Lose it or use it

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Yesterday, I threw down about what to do to get your clients to fall in love with you. But there are also things you might need to stop doing.

Things you need to “lose,“ because if you don’t, you might use them and drive clients away instead of bringing them closer.

Periodically, we all need to do some self-reflection, to see if we have any habits or ways of conducting ourself that might be due for an overhaul.

Things like:

  • A bad temper
  • Arrogance
  • Being overly aggressive
  • Impatience
  • Bluntness
  • Negative attitude
  • Over-sharing
  • Talking about politics or religion
  • Lack of seriousness (when necessary)
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Being a poor listener

And so much more.

For me, it’s my sense of humor. Sometimes, I come off as insensitive or just plain goofy.

Hey, not everyone appreciates genius.

But here’s the thing. A weakness can also be a strength.

Sometimes my sense of humor bombs. Sometimes it is a great ice-breaker. People love it when you make them laugh.

The other day, at the doctor’s office, I was a big hit. The nurse laughed her head off and told me I was funny.

“Looks aren’t everything,” I said.

Hey, I don’t ever want to lose my habit of “trying” to be funny. It comes in handy in writing, speaking, and networking.

But I do need to watch what I say, when, and to whom, and edit myself before I do something that gets me into trouble.

Nah, that would be no fun. There are nurses out there who need me.

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Some clients are trouble

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Some clients are sharp. Some aren’t. Some clients follow your instructions. Some don’t. Some clients make a good witness. Some don’t. Some clients will be a major pain in your ass. Some will be even worse.

You’ll find out eventually what each new client is like, but wouldn’t you like to find out right away?

Sure you would.

If you know a client doesn’t listen or will do things that hurt their case, you need to know that so you can keep an eye on them.

My advice? Give the new client a homework assignment and see what they do.

Ask them to download a form and fill it out, read something and answer a few questions, or call you with some information.

Simple stuff any client can do.

If they don’t do it, make excuses, or ask for more time, you’ll have an idea of what they’re going to be like.

If you’re not sure, give them another assignment.

Yes, they might be busy or forgetful. It doesn’t matter. You need to know if you can count on them.

Some clients need more hand holding. You might need to send written instructions instead of merely asking them to do something when you speak, or send additional reminders about upcoming appointments, deadlines, or things they need to start working on.

Part of your job is to make sure your clients help you do that job.

You could do something similar with your professional contacts. I did that with a lawyer I met at a retreat. We talked about working together on a project that could benefit both of us, decided we would talk about it the following week and scheduled a phone appointment.

The day came, I called, he didn’t answer. I left a message, reminded him about our phone appointment, and asked him to call me.

He didn’t. So I was done with him.

If I couldn’t count on him to keep a simple phone appointment, I knew I couldn’t count on him for anything.

If you want to know what someone will be like to work with, ask them to do something and see if they do it.

Because how people do one thing is often how they do everything.

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A better way to build your network?

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Networking events often prove to be a waste of time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t network.

Think about it, everyone who is currently in your network was, at one time, a stranger. So, meeting new people can be a very good thing. The question is, who do you want to meet and how can you meet them?

Events can work. But you can also do it without leaving your office and this might work even better.

The first step is to make a list of influential people in your target market. These could be business owners, professionals, or others with influence in that market. It could also include prospective business clients.

Start by identifying “categories”—tax lawyer, real estate broker, business executives at tech companies, for example; once you’ve done that, you can look for “candidates”—actual people or businesses in those categories.

You’re looking for people who can hire you, recommend you, or introduce you to others who can do the same. This might be a lawyer or accountant or other professional who represents your ideal clients, a content creator, consultant, or marketing professional with a following that resembles your ideal clients or the professionals who sell to or advise them.

You’ll have many options to choose from, but you should focus on quality, not quality. 20 or 30 people are a good number. You’re looking for influence (depth) not raw numbers (breadth).

Once you’ve identified some candidates, read their bios, learn what they do, and what they’re good at. Look for clues as to how they might be able to help you and/or your clients and contacts, and how you can help them or their contacts.

As you study them, you may learn you have some mutual contacts, or people who know people who are likely to know them. This could be your path to an introduction.

If not, put together a plan to contact them directly. Decide what you’ll say, what you’ll ask them, or what you might invite them to do.

How you will get their attention? And how will you show them a benefit for speaking with you?

It sounds more difficult than it is. Remember, everyone needs or wants something, even if that something is new professional contacts in their (your) industry or niche.

Contact the people on your list, via a mutual connection or directly, and see who is interested in speaking to you and learning more about how you might help them.

As a lawyer, you clearly have something to offer. If they don’t appreciate that, move on. If they do appreciate that, you might be one or two conversations away from having your next new client.

Here’s everything you need to know (and do)

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What if I want to eat alone?

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“Never Eat Alone” is a best-selling book that makes the case for building your network by inviting other people to accompany you when you go to lunch.

The author makes a good point. But what if I want to eat alone?

What if I want to read or listen to a podcast or just sit quietly and enjoy a meal? What if I’m tired and don’t feel like being “on”? What if I have a ton of work waiting for me and just want a quick sandwich?

And what about those of us who see the value of networking, during lunch or otherwise, but aren’t particularly social? We might handle going to lunch with someone once a week or once a month, but not every day.

Whether you like networking this way and do it all the time, or you do it only occasionally, here’s a suggestion: instead of inviting one person to lunch or coffee, invite two.

Two people you think might be a good fit.

You introduce person A to person B. If they hit it off, they both benefit, and they both have you to thank for introducing them.

And your network grows.

Being a matchmaker is a simple and effective way to network. It’s also a lot easier on you because they do most of the talking.

Marketing is more effective when you know The Formula

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Who do you know?

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You want to promote your services, seminar, or offer. You want podcasters, bloggers, or writers to know about you, mention you, or interview you. You want information about a new market or the key people in it.

Research and direct outreach are your friend. But you may have an even better friend in someone you already know.

You might know someone who knows the host of the podcast that’s perfect for you. You might have a client who has worked with the expert you want to interview for your blog. You might know a consultant, executive, or industry insider who can introduce you to the person who can answer your questions.

Whatever it is you want or need, it might be as close as a phone call, email, or social media post.

The people in your warm market are a resource for you and they should be the first place you turn when you need something. Much better than contacting strangers, which I’m guessing isn’t one of your favorite things to do.

The people you know can provide information, introductions, and referrals. And because they know you, and presumably trust and like you, it shouldn’t be difficult to get their help.

If they can’t help, they might know someone who can.

No matter what’s on your current “want” list, ask yourself, “Who’s in my network who might be able to help?”

Who do I know? Who do they know?

One more thing.

You may not need anything right now, but now would be a good time to connect with people in your network and ask what they need. Information? Introductions? Recommendations? A second opinion?

Let them know you’re available if and when they need help.

It gives you a great excuse to reconnect with your network and paves the way for a future time when you might need something from them.

Email marketing for attorneys

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It doesn’t get any niche-ier than this

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“F-F-F space, J-J-J space” — I can still hear the sound of my high school typing teacher called out the cadence for us as we learned the home row keys on our manual Remington machines.

I used typewriters for many years, in school and beyond, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Too much fussing with the paper and ribbon, keys getting stuck and, oh, those damn corrections.

But some people like typing on typewriters, even today. I just saw a few minutes of a video by a guy who is clearly a typewriter nerd. He types on them, he collects them and fixes them, and he talks about them on his channel with folks who share his passion.

Suppose there was a lawyer who belonged to that group, or who regularly networked with the people in it? What if the group had meetings and invited speakers and the lawyer was a regular? What if the group had their own publication and the lawyer wrote for it?

Most of the people in that group would know the name of that lawyer.

When someone in the group needs a lawyer, do you think they would talk to him? If someone has a friend who needs a lawyer, do you think they would tell that friend about their typewriter-loving lawyer buddy?

Yes and yes.

That lawyer could be the “go to” lawyer in that group. He would probably own that niche and get the lion’s share of the legal work in it.

Word of mouth is strong in a niche market, and there is less competition. Which makes it easier to stand out. Which is one reason niche marketing is so powerful.

Ideally, you want to find a niche that’s small, but not too small. You want to be the big fish in a small pond, not a whale in a one-gallon fishbowl.

Some would say that the typewriter-loving niche is too small, too niche-y to be worth a lawyer’s time.

But here’s the thing about niche markets: passion trumps size.

Everyone in a niche also belongs to other niches. When you are well-known by the members of one niche, you potentially have access to everyone else they know in other niches.

Typewriter-man may be the retired CEO of a big company in your target market, and have a list of contacts as long as your arm. If he knows, likes, and trusts you, because you connected via your shared interest, you may be in like Flynn.

How to choose the right niche for you

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How to start a conversation with a brick wall

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You meet someone new, at a networking function or casually, in person or online. You don’t know what to say to kick things off or to keep the conversation going after the initial hello.

What do you say?

You don’t. You ask questions and let them do most of the talking.

Some folks need a little prompting and asking questions usually does the job.

If you’re at an event, you could ask how they like the program or the last speaker, or if they recommend the chicken or the fish. You could ask something about the schedule. But while these questions may break the ice, they won’t get you very far.

If you want to know something about the other person (and you do), if you want to establish rapport and make a good impression, you should FORM them.

FORM stands for:

  • Family
  • Occupation
  • Recreation
  • Motivation

These are the areas to ask about.

In a professional setting, you’ll probably start with Occupation, and that might be all you need to have a fruitful conversation. Ask what they do and at some point they’ll ask what you do. (See my ebook re how to answer that question and what to say after that.)

Family and Recreation are fairly standard areas of conversation. What about Motivation?

Motivation is usually talked about later in a conversation, after you’ve exchanged pleasantries and covered the basics. Motivation is a catch-all for why they do what they do. What are their goals or dreams? What big projects are they working on? What’s in their future?

Sometimes the acronym is FORD—the D is for dreams instead of motivation, but it means the same thing. Here’s a short video that does a great job of explaining how to use FORM (FORD) in conversation.

The next time you meet someone and don’t know what to say, FORM them. Encourage them to tell you all about themselves.

They’ll enjoy meeting you and look forward to your next conversation. You’ll know what they do and what motivates them, and what to ask about the next time you speak or email.

How to sell your legal services in 15 Seconds or LESS

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How to remove the starch from your writing

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A newsletter is not the place for formal writing. Even if your readers are academics or others steeped in formality, they’re people before they are lawyers or professors and unless you have a good reason not to, write to them the way you would speak to them—informally.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

“Oh, I could never write like that,” says many a lawyer. They don’t want to appear un-lawyerlike.

You don’t have to go as far as I go sometimes. You don’t have to write completely informally to write less formally. (But you have to admit, it might be fun. Guess what? It’s fun for your readers, too.)

What you have to do is make clarity and simplicity your top priority.

When you do, not only will your readers be able to quickly understand your message, they will appreciate you for lightening their cognitive load.

(Sorry, some old starch found its way onto my keyboard.)

The simplest way to keep things simple, as I mentioned in a recent post, is to write an email, not an article.

If you need a little help to do that, follow the advice of writer Laura Belgray, who uses what she calls the Email From a Bestie (EFAB) technique:

“I write each email as if I am writing to a good friend, one who happens to have the needs of my target audience.”

Try it. Write a salutation. Write to your bestie (and leave out the starch). Close.

Then, remove or modify the salutation and close to suit.

When you do this, your readers feel there is a real person behind your words, and you’re speaking just to them.

That’s when they connect to you. That’s when they feel you’re the one.

When you’re done with your first draft, you may feel a little naked and self-conscious and want to add back some of the starch.

A little starch is okay. Because lawyer. Just don’t overdo it.

Ya feel me?

If you want to know how to do it right, with lots of examples, templates, and sample language, get my Email Marketing for Attorneys course

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Build your network with email follow-ups

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You meet someone new, in person or online. You get their email address (because if you don’t, why bother meeting anyone?) You’re all set to follow up with your new professional contact or prospective client.

What’s next?

You need to decide that, in advance.

What will you do? When? What will you say, what will you send them, what will you ask them?

Put on your thinking cap, figure that out, and write it down.

What you do will depend on many factors, including where you meet them, your practice areas and services, what they do, what you’re looking for, and more.

But you can sketch out a few typical scenarios to start and modify them as you go along.

For example, here’s a 5-step follow-up sequence you might adapt and use when you meet a new professional contact:

  1. Email No. 1—sent immediately: Nice to talk to you, (mention something I liked/thought was interesting); “here’s the (information/report/link) I promised to send you.”
  2. Email No. 2—sent X days after No. 1: Did you get it? Have any questions?
  3. Email No. 3—sent X days after No. 2: BTW—here’s something else you (your clients) might find useful.
  4. Email No. 4—sent X days after No 3: “I saw your website/read your article and liked X”, and/or ask them to tell you more about what they do
  5. Email No. 5—sent X days after No 4: Invite them to coffee/talk on phone (to see how we might work together)

You might also keep a list of optional or additional questions or comments to use in different situations. For example, what will you say or do if you didn’t promise to send them something?

The point is, follow-up is the key to building a new relationship and playing it by ear is not a good plan.

Get ready. You’re going to meet someone soon.

Are you ready to take a quantum leap in your practice?

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