I frequently say things like:
Client development is about building your visibility, building relationships and becoming a “go to” lawyer.
In 2013, it’s not who you know and it’s not what you know, it is who knows what you know. (I think I originally read that in something Scott Ginsberg wrote but I have been unable to find it).
In 2013, the idea is to find ways to increase the number and quality of “weak tie” relationships who know what you know.
What are the tools available to you to do that?
- Your business plan – it is a tool to make sure you are focused and using time wisely. It is not the plan itself that is so important as the planning that goes into it. Time is a precious asset. Planning will help you use it wisely.
- Google Alerts – you can set up a google alert for your clients (put names in quotes), your clients’ competitors and topics (for me highway construction, bridge construction, etc). I use my Google Reader to get them so my office email is not cluttered.
- Monarch stationary and/or cards – use these for handwritten notes. I had both firm ones and personal ones. In a day when email and the internet are so prevalent, a handwritten thank you note or other note is more special.
- Your website bio – clients look at this first after they have received a recommendation. Is your photo current and are you happy with it? Can a client download articles you have written or presentations you have given. Update often.
- Industry associations-these are great tools to keep up to date, to get speaking opportunities and to meet with potential clients and build relationships.
- What your clients read – find out what they read and subscribe. Once again this is a tool to keep up to date with what is going on in your clients’ industry.
- Books on building trusted advisor relationships-“Trusted Advisor” and “Clients for Life” – two must read books. These books provide insights on what it takes.
- Blogging-this is a great tool for you to build your visibility and credibility to your target market.
- Podcasts-this is a tool to reach those people who prefer listening to reading.
- LinkedIn-Great tool to build more loose tie relationships. Connect with people you meet at functions, your clients and your friends. Join industry groups to keep up with what is happening and to post your own materials.
- Youtube – This is a great tool to use to repurpose presentations if you have shot video. I urge you to get someone to edit your presentation so that the videos you post are no longer than 5-6 minutes.
- Sticky Messages (taken from the book: “Made to Stick”) – This is a tool to remind you that your clients, and potential clients do not care about what you do. Your ability to anticipate your clients’ problems, opportunities, internal changes and external changes before your competitors and even before your clients is a great predictor of success.
- Presentations –This is a great tool to connect with your target market and demonstrate your expertise, speaking ability and personality.(See below for more).
- iStockphoto, Shutterstock and other sites with photographs and visuals-These are tools to make your slides actually interesting and to use in place of words and bullet points.
- Your elevator speech and your elevator questions – these are tools you be prepared to use when meeting someone. You will inevitably be asked what you do. Have several answers on the tip of your tongue. Don’t just say I am a litigator. It is also important for other lawyers in your firm to have a clear idea of what you do so they can think how you might help their clients. Have elevator questions ready because, being candid, people do not care about what you do and they love to tell you what they do.
- Listening skills – this is the most important and most overlooked tool and skill for us. Most lawyers are already thinking about how they will respond while their client or contact is talking. Learn to listen.
- Remembering names – this tool demonstrates you are listening and you genuinely care about the other person. Why are we so bad at it? (See 15 above). There are tricks you can practice and use.
- The 80-20 rule-This tool has many applications. First, you should spend 80% of your time with 20% of your contacts. Second, don’t talk about yourself or your firm until you are asked and even then tread lightly. Learn to ask questions and listen. You are well served if the client or potential client is talking 80% of the time.
- A list of things you can do each and every day that take less than 15 minutes-This is a tool you can turn to when you are busy. Do something no matter how small each day.
- Zite and Flipboard apps-These are tools to aggregate and organize information coming to you on topics that are most interesting to you. They can also be used to distribute any content you find valuable.