Given up on New Year’s resolutions because they’re so hard to keep? Frustrated that you don’t make the time for practice development or frustrated with the results from the time that you do devote to it? The following suggestions can make business boom for you in 2009.
Update your biography
Honestly, how old is the information in your online profile, which is probably the first information people who are interested in retaining you consider. Does your biography answer the question of why the client reading it should retain you? Does it highlight what differentiates you from colleagues in the same practice area at other firms?
Does it show instead of tell? In other words, does it summarize several recent matters instead of stating you have extensive experience in general areas. It’s not your alma mater and professional organizations that qualify you — it’s the summaries of the problems that you can solve that leave the reader saying, "That’s the lawyer and team I want to work for my company."
Schedule time with a client in early January
And invite someone else as well. Someone from another practice area is great, but it can also be a financial adviser, a management consultant, etc. Lawyers too often fail to maximize the value of their networks.
So never eat in twos. And always schedule your next practice development connection right after you confirm the one on your calendar. That way, this essential aspect of practice development won’t be overlooked and you’ll have kept another resolution.
Send fewer e-mails
Before you hit that send button, ask yourself how long it has been since you’ve spoken with or seen the recipient. Phone calls and internal office visits are appreciated, often more effective and very much noted.
Get more e-mail
None of us need more e-mail, but regularly reading one legal and one non-legal electronic subscription is another effective practice development resolution you can keep. Quick and useful options are:
• Legal Blog Watch and In-House Weekly . (Subscribe for either at http://www.law.com/service/newsletter.shtml.)
• Law Marketing e-Newsletter.
• Fast Company’s Fast Take. (Subscribe at http://www.fastcompany.com — scroll down to NEWSLETTERS & RSS option on left side of the page.)
Reading for recreation and information is also an effective practice development tool. David Maister (www.DavidMaister.com) regularly reminds that increasing skills and value is essential to maintaining our value in the marketplace. The weekly e-alerts from your preferred book retailer will keep you abreast of what’s coming up and essentially provide you with a broad menu of options.
Sending books of interest to clients and contacts is also an easy and effective practice development strategy.
Know something about your clients
Don’t bill time to a client if you haven’t visited its Web site in months. Know what your clients’ business missions and values are. Also know what’s happening at their companies. It only takes minutes to scan the most recent press on Web sites and your mention to your clients of whatever you note will echo for weeks.
Exercise and sleep
OK, these resolutions may be a bit harder to keep but they are vital. You are better when you feel better.
Consult your Contacts
Check in with your marketing group, consultant or bar association for additional assistance.
They’re all there to help and join me in wishing you a happy and prosperous 2009. •
Julie Meyer is business development manager at Tactix Real Estate Advisors. She has assisted services professionals including lawyers, accountants, consultants and academic agencies with maximizing the effectiveness of their practice development initiatives. She is also a member of the Delaware Valley Legal Marketing Group Steering Committee and can be reached at JMeyer@Tactix.com.