· Is it their experience or results they receive for their clients?
· How about their visibility in the legal community? Is it their reputation?
· Or is it their bio or LinkedIn profile?
· Could it be as simple as their business card?
· Or maybe it is the articles they produce and get publish?
· But, what about referral sources? Is it how they use their current clients to refer them to potential clients?
There are dozens of tools that assist attorneys in their efforts to build business. Through my experience, I am not convinced that there is just one “tool” that has more weight than others, but I would argue that there are four that top my list. And, when these are put together, they can be a winning combination.
1. Your network. Your clients, prospects, other lawyers, law school classmates, boards, alumni groups, etc. are important groups for you to keep in contact with – all potential future clients. You never know when your contacts may be in a position to need your services or even refer your services to someone they know. The keys are ensuring you have a system to keep track of your contacts/network so you can have consistent touches with them (see tool two below), ensuring your profile information is as current as possible for people to validate your credentials (tool three below), and having an engaging story to tell about who you are and what value you provide your clients (tool four below). Keeping visibility of who you are and what you do will pay dividends over time.
2. Use of Touch Points. Keeping clients/prospects in the know on topics you feel would be of benefit to them is golden. These “touch points” are those little or big interactions you have with clients, potential clients or referral sources in a variety of mediums (phone calls, e-mails, newsletters, meetings, etc.). It demonstrates that you are thinking of them and trying to add value for their business operations. These are individual touches – not mass marketing. Frequency of your communications is critically important in building relationships that can lead to long-term value, so use the tools your marketing department produces (i.e. e-mail blasts, newsletters, events, PR, etc.), or create your own (a congratulation note on a client/prospects success or a note about positive press you see about them in the news – easy to get by setting up a Google news alert on the company, share an article you wrote, etc.).
3. Your bio/CV. While building relationships is done individually, 1:1, having a well written and updated bio is important to validate your credentials. When you network and hand out your business cards or reconnect with those who may have a legal need, they will check you out on-line. Having your firm bio updated is essential for communicating who you are and the value you add. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it would be in your interest to ensure this is updated as well. If you’ve spoken at an event, had a decision published, or have a positive result, it is in your best interest to evaluate if you need to add this to your profile(s). Set a calendar reminder to check your profiles (bio, LinkedIn profile, etc.) at least quarterly. Also, if your picture wasn’t taken in this decade, then it’s probably a good idea to replace it with something more current. Finally, keeping an updated bio helps your firm as well – as many of your peers may refer you without you knowing it – having an updated bio puts your best assets forward.
4. How you answer the question “What do you do?” If you say “I am a XYZ lawyer” or “I practice XYZ law” you are missing a great opportunity to market yourself. The important point is that when you tell people what you do as a lawyer, it should be short, succinct, and actually say something meaningful that will invite follow-up questions. It also has more impact if you use storytelling techniques. To learn more, read a previous Legal Sonar Blog post by Kohn.
Keep your business development toolbox full of items that can help you with your efforts. The four items above are just the tip of the iceberg. If your firm has a marketing team, get to know them. They can arm you with a plethora of tools that can help you develop your business.