3 things you should do every day

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Every day, there are 3 things you should do.

The first is client work, obviously. Get the work done, the bills billed, the clients happy, and the bills paid.

The second thing is running the joint. Yes, marketing and management of your practice.

That’s true even if you work for a firm. You still want to bring in new business, build your brand or reputation, and do things that help you grow your practice and career.

It includes things like creating content, building relationships with influential people in your niche, strengthening relationships with your clients to foster repeat business and referrals, supervising and training your team, and improving your systems and workflows.

Third on the list, but no less important, is to work on yourself. We’re talking about personal and professional development. The stuff that makes everything else work.

It means improving your legal knowledge and your writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills. It means getting better at communicating, negotiating, and leading and managing people. And keeping up with technology.

So, 3 things every day.

Think of these 3 areas as legs on a stool. You need all 3 or the stool won’t stand.

How should you allocate your time? One third each? Not practical. Some days, you have nothing but client work and no time to do anything else. Some days you have other priorities.

But if you’re a rule-of-thumb type of person, that rule should be to do something in each area every day.

Even if that means making one call on your lunch hour or reading a couple of pages before you go to sleep.

Keep your hand in all 3 areas and do your best to not let a day go by without all 3.

Create recurring tasks in your task manager or calendar or habit tracker. Make this a habit.

Don’t let your stool get out of balance.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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What would have to be true for that to happen?

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I’ve heard versions of this question from different sources. I like it because it makes you think, not just about what you want but the prerequisites for making it so.

“What would have to be true for me to double my referrals this year,“ for example.

What conditions would have to be in place? What additional skills, knowledge, or contacts would you have to acquire? What would you have to do?

A question like this can lead you to new insights, ideas to research, and projects to get to work on.

It will also make you think about things you know but haven’t thought about or done.

You can take it deeper. If you said you would need to have more referral sources to double your referrals, you might then ask, “What would have to be true in order to get more clients and professional contacts to send me more business?“

You might get even better answers by making the question more specific: “What would have to be true in order to get 50% of my clients to send me 1 additional referral this year?”

You can use this approach for any goal. “If I wanted to work a 4-day week and continue to earn what I now earn, what would have to be true?“ for example.

You can also ask follow-up questions: “If [that] was true, what else would need to be true?“

The key to these types of questions is that they are assumptive. When you ask this way, you direct your subconscious mind to look for the answer you’ve told it is there. It will keep looking until it finds it.

Choose a subject. Phrase the question any way you like, as long as it assumes a favorable response. Write down the ideas that come to mind.

Any of these ideas might be the precise idea you need to make your goal come true.

How to get your clients to send you more referrals

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Focus on what you can control

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With marketing, or anything else, there are things you can control and things you can’t. Do your sanity a favor. Don’t focus on, measure, or worry about things you can’t control.

You can’t control how many prospective clients will book an appointment after they see your presentation or read your email. But you can control how many presentations you do and how many emails you send.

You can’t control how much traffic you’ll get to your blog or how many visitors will share your content. But you can control how many posts you write.

You can’t control how many bloggers will say yes to your offer to write a guest post. But you can control how many you ask.

I know, you want to sign up more clients, get more followers or subscribers, and put more butts in seats. You want to get more referral sources, bring in more six- and seven-figure clients or cases, and live the freak’in dream.

But you can’t control any of that. You can only control what you do, not what you want to happen as a result.

You can ALSO set a results-based goal—to sign up 5 new clients this month, for example—but keep that in the back of your mind.

In the front of your mind, and in your daily or weekly planner, focus on how many ads you’ll run, how many emails you’ll write, or how many people you’ll talk to.

Here are lots of things you can do

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Don’t just do something, sit there

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Do the work, bill the client. That’s what brings in the bacon. Or the kale if that’s your thing. Billable work is your bread and butter. (Okay, now I’m getting hungry.)

But your work involves more than dictating, drafting, and negotiating. At least it should.

You need time when you’re not outputting but inputting.

Digesting information you can use to create content (to bring in more business), to better understand and relate to your clients’ industry or niche, and to have something to talk about when you’re not talking about the law.

You also need time to learn about marketing, productivity, technology, and other subjects that help you improve your skills and drive the growth of your practice. And CLE, to make sure you’re at the top of your game.

Building a successful practice requires more than cranking out billable work.

You should embrace the idea of spending time doing no “work” and instead, doing nothing but soaking up information.

Put time for this on your calendar. Blocks of time every day for reading and listening and taking notes, and to ponder what you’ve learned and how you can use it.

It may feel like this you’re goofing off. You may feel guilty watching videos or reading something from me and tell yourself to get back to work. But learning is just as important as doing, because it helps you do what you do better.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System — everything you need, nothing you don’t

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Success inside your comfort zone

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It is often said that success lies outside our comfort zone. When we try new things, we’re often scared, we risk failure and embarrassment, but that’s how we grow.

Inside our comfort zone, it is safe but little changes.

We’ve all heard this, and said it to others, but it it true?

In high school, a friend suggested we go ice skating. He was a good skater but I’d never done it and was afraid I’d get hurt or look like a fool, but I agreed to go. I fell a lot but eventually did okay, and I had a lot of fun.

Score one for trying new things.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. We often try new things, hate them, and never do them again.

That’s also part of the process.

You date a lot of people until you find “the one”. You change your major, your employer, even your career, until you find something that feels right.

That’s your comfort zone. And that’s where you build long-term success.

Inside your comfort zone, things are familiar. You do them over and over again and get good at them. Over time, you build a successful career, a successful marriage, a successful life.

Success lies inside your comfort zone, but you need to get outside it from time to time to explore.

Try things that make you uncomfortable. Seek new adventures and challenges. You’ll learn a lot about a lot of things, but most of all about yourself.

When you do, come back to your comfort zone with the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, use it if you want to, or forget about it and try something else.

You say you don’t like a certain marketing strategy you have never tried? I’m your friend inviting you to try it and see.

You might fall a lot and look foolish. But you’ll learn something about yourself.

You might also have a lot of fun.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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If you want to be prolific, you have to do this

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If you want to be prolific, build more relationships, deliver more presentations, write more books or blog posts or articles, more than anything, there’s one thing you have to do. You have to let go of the need to make things perfect.

Perfectionism has been my “issue” for as long as I can remember. When you’re wrapped up in it, you’re wrapped in a straightjacket of your own making and artificially limit your accomplishments.

More content, more relationships, more good habits, usually lead to more good things happening in your life. Even if the things you create aren’t perfect, but merely good.

Remind yourself that you don’t have time for perfect. You have deadlines and goals and people who depend on you.

Set a different standard for yourself. Instead of going for 90% allow yourself to do 70%. Because unless you’re performing surgery, 70% is usually good enough.

In fact, remind yourself that “good enough is good enough” — because it has to be if you want to get more done.

If you want to be prolific, develop the habit of launching things before you think they’re ready.

That’s what I do. I want quality, but I’m willing to exchange some of it for quantity.

But here’s the thing. When I re-read something I wrote and thought wasn’t up to snuff, I usually find that it’s a lot better than I thought.

Here’s the other thing. Most people aren’t as critical of your stuff as you are. They either don’t notice or don’t care. (They’re worried about their own stuff.)

Another strategy I use is to push things out the door (before I think they’re ready) telling myself I can fix it later. What I often find is that by the time I’m ready to fix it, it’s not as important to me because I’m busy with something else.

Look, at our funeral, nobody is going to say we led a good life and helped many people but could have done a few more rounds of editing. They’ll look at the big picture, and we should too.

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Break the mold before it gets moldy

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There’s a lot to be said for adopting positive habits, but if you never stop to review and refine them, you might get so used to doing things the same way you never look for something better.

When was the last time you changed your daily routine, tried a new research tool, or did something completely out of your comfort zone?

Growth requires change. Consider developing the habit of regularly exploring ways to change what you do and how you do it.

Start small. Take a different route to work. Shop at a different store. Try cuisine you’ve never tried before.

Do what you always do, but add an extra element. Do it more quickly or more slowly, do it on a different day of the week or at a different time of day.

Write without an outline. Downsize your project list. Re-write your checklist, create a new form, or call someone you haven’t talked to in years.

When you’re ready, skip a day or assign the task to someone else.

The more you embrace change, however small, the more you tell your subconscious mind that change is good and stimulate it to find other things to change.

Being open to change can lead you to new insights, new ideas, and new solutions to old problems.

Change might be uncomfortable, but it can also be liberating. It can open doors you never realized were closed. Taking on a different type of case or client, for example, might lead you to discover a lucrative new practice area or additional source of income.

You might want to journal on the subject and explore some ideas, or you might dive in and do something completely different, as I did early in my career when I went “all in” on marketing and that one decision changed everything.

At the very least, add a prompt to your weekly or monthly review checklist to ask yourself, “What can I change this week/month?”

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Big shots focus on the big picture

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You are a leader. Even if you are a one-person band, you are the guiding force in your practice or career.

You should do what leaders do.

You should spend most of your time and energy focused on big picture strategies that help you achieve your goals.

Most lawyers don’t. Most lawyers spend their days doing client work and mundane tasks, not building for the future.

Leaders lead. They choose the destination, the tactics and tools, and create an atmosphere that attracts and supports others who accompany them.

Leaders focus on

  • Strategic planning
  • Casting vision
  • Creating culture
  • Building relationships
  • Improving reputation
  • Professional development
  • Personal growth

The leader understands that the firm delivers professional services, but is also a business and must be profitable. The leader continually seeks ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses, to ensure the firm’s viability and future growth.

The leader prefers to grow the business by hiring new people, creating new marketing alliances, and expanding into new markets rather than putting in more hours.

Yes, someone has to see the clients, draft the documents, and win the cases. Sometimes the leader does that. Sometimes the leader delegates much of that to their team. Sometimes the leader delegates all of that to their team while they focus on the big picture.

As you look at this list, think about how you spend your time and ask yourself how much of it you spend doing what leaders do.

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The practice of practicing law

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You want to get better at what you do, so you take CLE courses, watch videos, read books, and otherwise consume information that can help you improve your skills.

But reading and listening aren’t enough. You need to practice.

Let’s say you want to get better at networking. The best way to do that is by practicing your skills “in the field,” but you can also practice on your own.

You can rehearse starting a conversation, introducing one attendee to others, questions to ask to find out more about a new contact, and what you’ll say when they ask what you do.

You can improve your presentation skills by recording and listening to yourself, or by asking a friend to listen and provide feedback.

You can get better at being interviewed by podcasters, bloggers, and reporters, by working on questions to give them to ask you, and a bio they can use to introduce you.

Make a list of the skills and habits and processes you want to improve regarding your core work, your marketing, and the management of your practice.

Examples:

  • Writing more persuasive demand letters
  • Writing blog posts and articles in less time
  • Asking for help from your list, contacts
  • Getting booked for podcast interviews
  • Improving your Linkedin profile
  • Improving your public speaking skills
  • Becoming a better listener
  • Talking about referrals
  • Giving feedback to staff
  • Improving the new client interview process
  • Interpreting medical reports/records
  • Writing thank-you notes
  • Explaining fees, costs, and retainers
  • Learning a new app
  • Delegating more effectively and more often
  • Deposing medical experts
  • Being more patient with difficult clients
  • Taking effective notes
  • Streamlining oral arguments
  • Creating better daily and weekly task lists
  • Overcoming objections and closing prospective clients
  • Body language: mirroring and matching, smiling, eye contact
  • What to say or do when you follow-up with a new contact
  • Creating form letters and templates
  • Answering “What do you do?”

Keep a running list of things you want to improve (or start doing) and schedule time to work on them.

Because building a successful practice requires practice.

What to say when someone asks, “What do you do?”

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You can change your name, but not your stripes

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Jimmy, the protagonist in Better Call Saul, couldn’t do it. Changing his name didn’t change who he was.

That’s true for all of us. How we think, what we do, who we are.

Our beliefs about ourselves and the world are the core of our “operating system”. And while we can change our beliefs, we can’t do it by changing our name.

Our beliefs determine our attitudes towards the choices we make, the things we do and how we do them. Our activities determine the results we get. And our results determine our success and lifestyle.

Look at how this works in the context of marketing and managing a law practice.

(1) Our beliefs determine our attitudes

If you believe that that nothing is achieved in life without hard work, that there are no shortcuts, no such thing as “working smarter,” you will no doubt be skeptical about strategies that suggest otherwise.

You would be reluctant to try these strategies because they are inconsistent with your core beliefs.

If you did try any of these strategies, you might do so with an attitude that says, “Those things never work” and you may seek to prove you’re right.

On the other hand, if you believe that some “working smarter” strategies can work, you’ll be open to learning more and giving some strategies an honest try

(2) Our attitudes affect our activities

If you believe working smarter is possible, that you can increase your income without working more hours (and even by working fewer hours), you’ll be willing and perhaps eager to explore strategies that promise that outcome.

Your attitude will be “let’s see” instead of “no way.” And if you try those strategies, you’ll look for ways to make them work instead of trying to prove they won’t.

You may have always used hourly billing in your practice, for example, but you may be willing to try flat fee billing. If you’ve tried it before, you may be willing to try it again.

You’ll at least be open to getting more information about ways to do it effectively and to see how other lawyers are doing it.

(3) Our activity determines our results

Your activities—what you do, how you do it, how much you do and for how long, determine the results you get.

Do more marketing activities, do them better, and you’ll bring in more clients. Try different billing methods and if you find one that allows you to earn more from the same work, you’ll increase your income without putting in more hours.

Maybe even by working fewer hours.

(4) Our results determine our success and lifestyle

If you are able to increase your income by working smarter instead of working harder, in the case of our example, by successfully implementing flat fee billing, you will earn more without working more.

You’ll be able to do that because you believed it was possible.

Our beliefs guide our attitudes, our attitudes affect our activities, our activities determine our results, and our results are how we measure success.

How does this explain the success of people who lie, cheat, and steal their way through life? Who believe that the way to succeed is to do whatever it takes, even if it’s wrong?

They may get away with it, but only for so long. Eventually, their nature catches up with them.

And changing their name, or the name of their company, won’t stop that.

Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection

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