I have learned from coaching senior associates and junior partners that many young lawyers don’t know where to start with their client development efforts. They mistakenly think they need to sell clients, make cold calls and figure out other ways to solicit business. Since all of this is distasteful to most, they don’t ever get started.
In a nutshell, here is what I am trying to teach young lawyers:
You cannot directly market or try to sell clients. The harder you try to sell the less successful you will be. Clients want to buy (or need to buy), but they do not want to be sold. Whatever you tell clients about how good you are or how your service is extraordinary, they will likely not believe it because your competitors are telling them the same thing.
Clients do not want to hire lawyers who are ordinary. They want to hire lawyers who are extraordinary, remarkable and memorable. The game plan for successful client development is having the clients come to the lawyer as a result of creating something remarkable or being remarkable and having clients, potential clients and people who can refer business talk about the lawyer.
I got the remarkable idea from Seth Godin. He says that the premise of remarkable is to have non-compensated third parties become an evangelist for you and your services.
In a world where law firms and lawyers all look alike, how can a lawyer stand out from the crowd and be remarkable, extraordinary and memorable?
I teach lawyers how I did it and how they can do it. The first step in becoming remarkable is to determine what you want in your career. Second, you need to learn how to become credible by building your profile. Third, you need to learn how to determine your clients’ and potential clients’ views, biases, and perspectives so you can create something that will be noticed and be remarkable in the eyes of those who might hire you.
How can you do it? Stay on top of what is going on in your clients’ world and find an issue you think will impact them. Then, become insatiable studying the issue until you are an expert. Finally, write and speak on the issue and use social media to share your articles, blogs and presentations.
I know that approach works because it worked for me. That is what client development is all about. Each young lawyer I have met can be remarkable if they are open to trying, and if they make a commitment to work at it.
So, for one key to being successful in 2015 think of how you can become remarkable in the eyes of the clients who might hire you.