A checkup from the neck up

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Successful estate planning attorneys regularly contact their clients to inquire about life changes that might necessitate an update to their plan.

No matter what area you practice in, you should do something similar.

Once a year (at least), send your clients information about changes in the law and a questionnaire. Invite them to talk to you.

Do this even if your handle litigation or bankruptcy or another area where your clients are unlikely to need you again.

Why?

So you can find out about other issues or changes in their life or business that necessitate a referral to another attorney or to another professional.

Create your questionnaire or “legal checkup” checklist by asking other professionals to provide information. Ask an insurance broker, for example, for a list of questions your clients should ask themselves about their current risk-levels and coverage. Ask a CPA for questions related to taxes, a financial planner about investments or retirement, and other attorneys about their practice areas.

In addition to asking your “referral partners” to help you prepare your legal checkup, ask them to provide a special offer for your clients, if appropriate. A free consultation or document review, for example.

Once you’ve got your legal checkup up and running, help your referral partners do the same thing for their clients.

An annual legal checkup will allow you to better protect and advise your clients and stimulate referrals to you and your referral sources.

It’s a beautiful thing.

How to get referrals from other attorneys

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Why you need friends who do estate planning

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No matter what type of practice you have, you should seek out and befriend estate planning attorneys.

Why?

  • Because estate planning attorneys have clients who need what you do and can usually afford to hire you. Damages from wage loss, business loss, or divorce are often higher.
  • Because estate planning attorneys don’t have to wait for “something” to happen, ie., a loss, litigation, which means they have a bigger universe of prospective clients available to them.
  • Because estate planning attorneys often do types of marketing you may not do (seminars, advertising, direct mail), bringing in a steady stream of new clients they can refer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually offer services at different price points, appealing to a wider spectrum of clients.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually write a newsletter and/or otherwise stay in touch with their clients and prospects, giving them more opportunities to tell people about you and what you offer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys network with many other professionals they can introduce you to.
  • Because estate planning clients associate with people of similar age, background, income, and need for estate planning, so estate planning attorneys usually get more referrals they can refer to you.
  • Because most of your clients will need estate planning someday and you’ll want to have someone to whom you can refer them.

If you’re looking to build your network of professional contacts, estate planning attorneys are a good place to start.

If you are an estate planning attorney, now you know what you have to offer other attorneys.

How to get more referrals from other professionals

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Where will you be in six months?

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It’s six months from today and things are little slow. (Or, things are fine and you want to take your practice to the next level.)

Either way, you want more business.

No problem. You have a list of lawyers and other professionals who have clients that are a good match for you. They can send you referrals.

Most of these professionals have colleagues who are similarly situated. They can introduce you to them.

Most of these professionals know your name and what you do. They know you’re good at your job.

Some of them have met you, either in person or online. Some could be considered friends.

So, you make some calls.

You re-introduce yourself or tell them you’re checking in to see how they’re doing. You ask what they need or want and how you can help.

Do they need clients or customers? Introductions, recommendations or advice?

You do what you can to help them.

They ask how you’re doing. They ask what they can do to help you.

They send you referrals. They introduce you to their colleagues. They give you advice and recommendations. Your practice grows.

You want that list, don’t you? It sounds like just what you need.

There’s just one thing. That list isn’t going to make itself. You need to do that.

Better get started. It will be six months from now before you know it.

Step-by-step instructions on how to do this: click here

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How to warm up a cold approach

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By far, the best way to approach a new business contact or prospective client is to have a mutual contact introduce you. When you identify someone you’d like to meet, go through your list of contacts to see if you know someone who knows them, or might know someone who does. Ask for an introduction or permission to use their name.

If you don’t know anyone who can introduce you, you can still approach them. But it will take more effort.

Whether you contact them by email or by phone, your initial objective is the same: to get their attention and stay out of the slush pile.

A few do’s and don’ts.

DON’T

  • DON’T pitch anything. Save that for later; probably much later.
  • DON’T ask for anything, e.g., a guest post, a link, etc.
  • DON’T brag about yourself; in fact, say almost nothing about yourself, focus on them
  • DON’T lie or exaggerate
  • DON’T ask them to read something or do something; they’re busy, just like you

DO

  • DO mention your mutual friend or contact. How did you get their name?
  • DO reference something you have in common (a mutual interest, cause, target market or industry, practice area, background, etc.)
  • DO mention something you like about something you heard about them or read, (their article, post, video, interview, etc.
  • DO tell them why you’re contacting them and what’s in it for them; give them a reason to listen
  • DO keep your message brief; get to the point
  • DO make the next step easy (ask them to reply, tell them you’ll call, tell them to watch their email)

So, what is in it for them? Why are you contacting them?

Here are some good options:

  • To offer information that will help them or their clients, or information about something that interests them
  • To discuss a mutual interest (an industry or local issue, similarly aligned clients, proposed laws or regs, etc.)
  • To invite them to speak at your meeting, to interview them for your newsletter, to participate in a panel discussion, etc.
  • To introduce yourself, learn more about what they do and how you might work together to your mutual benefit

To learn more about how to find and approach people you don’t know, and what to offer them, get this

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Stirring the marketing pot

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I assume you have a list of professionals you know and respect and who know and respect you. People who could send you referrals but haven’t. Or haven’t done so in a long time.

Don’t wait for them to send you referrals on their own. Stir the pot. Make something happen.

Call through your list. One a day, five a day, whatever you can handle.

Say something like, “I want to start working with you (again). Can you send me some information I could share with my clients? Not a brochure or sales piece, a report, an article, an ebook, or something else you wrote that you send to prospective clients?”

When they tell you they do, tell them great, send it over. (If they don’t have anything, ask if they could put something together.)

Before you hang up, say, “If any of my clients want to talk to you, ask some questions or get some additional information about what you do, can I tell them to call you? Is email better?”

Make sure they are open to being contacted and you know their preferred method. Plant the seed that this might happen.

Finally, say, “I’ll make sure they mention my name so you know where they came from.”

What’s next?

Send the information to your clients and prospects, along with a note about your friend. Say something nice about them. Tell how you met, share a story. Encourage your clients to call them if they have any questions or want more information about what they do, and to mention your name.

And, that’s it.

What will happen? You think I have a crystal ball? Something will happen. I don’t know what, or when.

Okay, some of your contacts will ask you to send them something they can send to their clients. Some will ask this before you finish that first conversation. Others will do that down the line.

Either way, go ahead and send their information to your list.

And then, wait.

Something will happen. The professional will contact you and tell you they signed up one of your clients. Or your client will contact you and tell you they had a nice conversation with that professional and thank you for putting them in touch.

Eventually, more will happen. Clients will sign up, money will change hands, and out of nothing, you will have created something. Which is better than waiting and doing nothing.

How to get referrals from other professionals: here

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20 calls a day

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I listened to a podcast featuring a sales trainer for a very successful real estate broker. He said his brokers are asked (required?) to make 20 calls a day. They can do more, but 20 calls are the minimum expected of them.

I assume these calls are to property owners who might be open to selling. The goal is to get a listing appointment, or failing that, to find out when the property owner might be open to that and scheduling a date to contact them again. They would also ask for referrals.

The sales trainer said that consistently making 20 calls a day allows the brokers get enough listings and sales to earn a substantial income.

Okay, 20 calls a day (five days a week) is not difficult. I would think you can get it done in an hour or two, leaving enough time for appointments and other things agents do.

Can lawyers do something like this? Yes and no:

Problem: Lawyers usually aren’t allowed to cold call prospective clients

Solution: call prospective referral sources. Introduce yourself, ask about their practice or business, invite them to meet you or offer to send them information. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn what to say and do, with lawyers and with other professionals.

Problem: Lawyers don’t have time to make 20 calls a day

Solution: Make 10 calls. Or 2.

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls on your behalf.

Solution: Calling is best, but email can work too.

Problem: Lawyers don’t want to make calls

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls, or send emails.

Contacting prospective referral sources (or prospective clients if you are permitted to do so) isn’t the only way to build a law practice, just as it’s not the only way to build a real estate business. But it is one of the best.

Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals

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Who’s on your marketing shopping list?

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You want new clients. Okay, what kind? Write down a description of your ideal client. Do the same thing for your ideal referral source. And be specific.

Great. You’ve got yourself a shopping list. With people on it.

Why is this a good idea? Because by identifying who you want to come into your life, you are more likely to find them.

Instead of networking “anywhere,” you’ll go to events likely to be inhabited by your ideal client and the people who can refer him.

Instead of writing articles and posts that target “everyone” with a legal problem you handle, you’ll write posts tailored to the specific types of clients you want to attract.

Instead of waiting for things to happen, your shopping list will help you make things happen. When your list says, “commercial leasing broker on the Westside,” for example, that’s who you’ll find.

It works like this: once you get specific about who you want, your reticular activating system (RAS) sifts through the mountain of input you encounter each day, looking for clues, and alerting you when it finds them. All of sudden, you start seeing Westside commercial brokers everywhere.

You’ll look at their websites and social media profiles and learn about them. You might identify a mutual acquaintance who can introduce you. Or you might send them the article you wrote about issues important to commercial real estate brokers on the Westside. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting for coffee and finding ways to work together.

Can’t this happen without a list? Of course. But the odds of finding precisely the kinds of professional contacts or clients you want to meet, at random, are about as good as getting the Christmas gift you want this year without giving your family a list.

I already know what I’m getting from my daughter this year. Funny how that works.

How to identify your ideal referral source

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You only need one

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Let’s say you want to get more referrals from other professionals. Where do you start?

You start by finding one professional who can and will send you business. If you already have one, you start by finding one new one.

Because one is all you need to start.

You only need one because, in the course of finding them, you will acquire the knowledge and skills you need to find more.

You’ll learn where to find them, how to approach them, and how to help them get what they want. You’ll learn how to help them even if you don’t have referrals for them. You’ll learn how to build a relationship, nurture it, and help it to grow.

You’ll go through a lot of candidates to find that one. Many will disappoint you. Some will lie and stab you in the back. But eventually, you’ll find one who is the real deal and soon, that one will turn into two.

You’ll get better at finding good referral sources and developing relationships. And soon, you’ll have a few.

And a few is all you need to build a big practice.

A few good professional referral sources can introduce you to powerful people in your niche or community. Those people will trust you because they trust the person who introduced you. They will open doors for you, introduce you to their colleagues and friends, and eventually, important people will know your name.

Your marketing will be easier. You’ll get bigger results. Better clients. And even more referral sources.

You don’t need to figure out how to build an army, just figure out how to get one recruit. Once you do, the next step will reveal itself to you.

But it all starts with one.

Here’s how you find new professional referral sources

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Three ways to level up your practice

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When it comes to growing a law practice, slow and steady works. But, by definition, it’s slow. What if you want to grow quickly? What if you want to dramatically increase your income in a relatively short period of time?

Oh yes, it can be done. Some lawyers do it right out of the law school gate. Some do it when they reach their “day of disgust” and finally decide to get serious about marketing. Some do it when they see their numbers dropping and their fear of losing everything motivates them to finally take action.

But it can be done.

There are lots of things you could do to dramatically increase your income. I’m going to give you three. But more important than “what you do” is “what you think” and so first, I’m going to give you a few mindset adjustments.

First, to significantly boost your income you’ll need to do things that offer a big potential payoff. That means there might be additional risk and additional expense and you have to be prepared to accept this. You also need to be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.

Second, you have to jettison the idea that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you work and the amount of income you earn. It’s not about how long it takes to do the work, it’s about how much value you deliver.

Third, you have to look for ways to employ leverage. One of the simplest ways to do that is to hire (more) people or outsource, and delegate as much of your work as possible. Rule of thumb: you should ONLY do those things that ONLY you can do. NB: there is very little that ONLY you can do.

Fourth, no matter how good you are getting things done you’ll probably need to get better. If you want to dramatically grow your practice, working harder is an option but so is working smarter.

Working smarter means “doing the right things,” the “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results and income”. It also means “doing things right”–getting the work done more quickly, efficiently, and with less effort.

With these principles in mind, here are three ways you might level up your practice:

(1) Bigger cases or better clients.

Bigger cases pay bigger fees. Why settle for an average fee of $10,000 when you could get $25,000? Or $100,000? The cases are out there and there’s no reason why you can’t get them.

Better clients pay higher fees and have more legal work. Why settle for “one of” work when you can bring in clients who have a steady stream of work?

(2) Increase your fees

One of the simplest ways to earn more is to charge more. Consider increasing your fees.

Not ten or fifteen percent, thirty percent. Fifty percent. 100%. Or more.

Crazy? Maybe. But maybe not. There’s only one way to find out.

Yes, you’ll lose some clients who can’t afford the increase or don’t want to pay it, but the new clients you bring in could more than offset those losses.

(3) Better referral sources (and more of them)

One of the best ways to bring in more business is to find referral sources that can send you more clients (and better clients, while you’re at it). Find professionals who can refer you five clients per month instead of five clients per year.

They’re out there and you can find them. Here’s a hint: they usually hang out with each other. Find one and they will lead you to others.

So, what do you think? Are you thinking, “These won’t work for me,” or are you thinking, “How can I make these work for me?”

Your attitude will determine your altitude. Translation: if you want to get big, fast, you need to think big and take massive action.

And remember, if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Plan your plan with this

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How to approach a prospective referral source

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The Internet presents endless resources for finding people who might become a referral source for you.

They’re out there, in droves.

But once found, how do you approach them? How do you get their attention without appearing needy? How do you start a conversation and bring up the subject of referrals?

How about simply introducing yourself?

Tell them who you are, what you do, and why you are contacting them.

I assume you can handle the who you are and what you do part, but make it brief. One or two sentences. Only enough so they know you’re a fellow professional.

As for why you’re contacting them, well, why are you doing that?

Because you see a connection with them. (If you don’t, contact someone else.) Tell them about the connection.

You found their website or social media profile and see that you and they target the same market. You represent the same types of clients. You offer services that dovetail with theirs. Or they’ve written an article that deals with issues you’ve written about or care about.

Introduce yourself. Mention the connection. Invite them to chat.

“I thought I’d reach out to you, find out more about what you do, tell you more about what I do, and see if there might be a way we could work together.”

If you’re speaking to them on the phone, continue the conversation. Of invite them to meet you for a cup of coffee. If you have contacted them via email, ask, “When would be a good time to chat for a couple minutes?”

You’ve been honest with them, you have suggested a possible benefit to them, and you haven’t pushed.

They’re either interested in speaking to you or they are not. If they’re interested, move forward. If they’re not, move on.

When you talk, ask lots of questions and keep the focus on them. Get them to tell you about what they want or need. What are their goals and plans for the future? What obstacles are in their way?

Look for ways you could help them or their clients, either directly or by introducing them to someone you know.

Then ask, “Who would make a good referral for you?”

Powerful question, that. It tells them you’re serious about working with them.

When it’s your turn, tell them about your practice and tell them who would make a good referral for you. Tell them you’ll send them more information and invite them to do the same.

Is that all you have to do to get business from someone you just met? Usually not. But sometimes, it is. Sometimes, in speaking with you, they think about someone they know who might need your help.

After your chat, send business if you can. Send information about something they want or need or that might benefit their clients. Share marketing ideas with them. Introduce them to vendors and freelancers who can help them. Invite them to write an article for your client newsletter. Offer to interview them for your blog or podcast.

They will (at some point) do the same for you.

There’s more you can do to build a referral relationship. A lot more. But you’ve opened the door and started the process, and that’s the most important part.

Learn what to say and do to get referrals from other professionals, here

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