Lawyer Marketing Coaches
Referrals: The best way to build business is still the old way — with modern updates.
By C.J. Liu, Lawyer Marketing Coach
So you want to build a new practice area and wondering how to make it happen? Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, or life coach, the starting point for building a business is the same. All these occupations rely on referrals and word-of-mouth, which means building up a foundation of clients and then encouraging them to refer you to others. The most effective means of getting referrals is networking, and as lawyer marketing coaches (check out our dedicated lawyer website, Hot Blue Coaching), we know that’s still your bread and butter.
Yes, networking. Unfortunately for most of us, the term networking conjures up anlawyer marketing coach CJ image of some slick-haired guy handing us a card asking us to “do lunch”. Well, networking today has evolved. So much so that it has a new name; it’s no longer called networking but permission marketing or relationship marketing.
As a curious student and a lawyer coach, I began reading current and past books on the topic. If you were to read just one book, it would be Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing. The key concept in any of these books is that networking is about building a relationship. So, what does that mean? It means focusing less on efficiency and results (the task), as we do when working on cases and work projects, and more on building relationships. Yup, think about when you first started dating your spouse or girlfriend. That is what it is about.
Get permission to go on the first date – Permission marketing is experienced by most men (to pick an example almost at random) in their early years. First, you need to get an “in”. You need to get the girl to say “yes” to your first date. After careful assessment, you contemplate when you’ll make your first move. Once you get permission you move to your next move. The same applies in client relationships. Each time, you are asking your client’s permission to have a deeper and deeper relationship. For example, you start with a business lunch. At the lunch you get to know what’s going on with them and their business, and so on. The next “ask” is up to you. Most likely it will be some way for you to have continual contact with them (e.g.- a newsletter, etc). How fast you can move and what you ask is based on your assessment of the situation. What can you get them to say “yes” to easily? Start with the “first yes” and then worry about the rest later.
Get to know a person with prospect of marriage – The age-old wisdom from courtship applies in this context too. It means getting to know your prospective client’s business and know your client as a person. During each interaction, remember to ask all those questions and to listen purposefully. Just like when you are trying to woo someone. The same rule applies in courting a client. A rule of thumb is that you are asking questions and listening about 75% of the time and the rest you may be talking about services that are relevant to their issues. Once you know what the client wants and needs, you can make notes in a prospect folder and then be sure to send them relevant articles, news clippings, etc.
Be the perfect gentleperson – Remember when you brought flowers or cookies on your next date? This small gesture was to give the gal (or guy) the sense that she mattered to you and that you were thinking about her. This same concept applies with a client. Whenever you meet a client ask, What could I do that would be helpful? Maybe it is getting them tickets to a baseball game. Maybe it is helping them answer some small legal matter or sending them a relevant article. Courtesy also counts. Remember to send quick thank you notes when someone sends you a referral.
Be patient – A solid relationship doesn’t happen overnight. Some take longer than others. I talked to one lawyer who often courted a client for up to 18 months before he landed a case. And sometimes it is not the person you are courting who becomes a client, but the friend or colleague they refer you to. So pay it forward, but don’t expect the favors to be paid directly to you. They may come indirectly. Or they may not come for a long time. Life is a mystery and referrals are no different. Give with a spirit of generosity and then have faith that something will happen.
The above will arm you with some basics . It is first setting the goal correctly. It’s about building a relationship. Next, it is about all the small details that make a relationship solid and will eventually lead to results. Beyond the above basic concepts are the processes and technologies (especially some of the new media) you’ll need to ensure you are feeding and nurturing the relationship in both a sincere and an efficient way. Coaching can help you develop the process and systems that will work for you.
For more information, see our main site for Lawyer Marketing Coaching.
Lawyer marketing coach C.J. Liu, recently of Microsoft, is a former CFO and strategic consultant who brings the know-how of more than 20 years of business, finance, and product development experience to her coaching clients. C.J. has worked at several other leading Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric and Clorox. C.J. served as an in-house executive/business coach at Microsoft and she continues to work with teams and individuals there today. C.J. is a rarity in the world of business/career coaching – she is one of few certified professional coaches with an MBA from a top-ranked program.
C.J. has coached executive directors at non-profits, business owners, and entrepreneurs on the issues that can create…or undermine… success: effective leadership and communications, conflict resolution, how to develop strong working relationships, and the hows and whys of emotional intelligence. C.J.’s strong business background and diverse experience in product development, strategic planning, marketing, finance, and business development provides her coaching clients with a nice balance of Business IQ and Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This extensive business background enables C.J. to quickly understand the breadth and depth of many business and marketing issues. Before joining Feroce, C.J. served as an in-house executive/business coach at Microsoft.
Read C.J.’s longer Bio.
Attorney Coach and Feroce Founder Cameron Powell
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Lawyer Coaching: Individual Practices, Lawyers, and Lawyers’ Lives
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Related Pages on Hot Blue Coaching:
Lawyer Life Coach
Lawyer Career Coach
Lawyer Marketing Coach
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