By John Remsen, Jr.
Lately, I’ve been big on using analogies to illustrate a point I’m trying to make. And the one I like to use to describe how a lawyer should approach marketing and business development paints the picture of an exercise regimen.
Most of us want to look good, be healthy and live a long, active life. And if you eat right and exercise on a regular basis, you are likely to get there. But you’ve got to make it a priority and get into the habit of exercising. Thirty to forty-five minutes, four times a week. Every week.
Even when you’re tired and don’t really feel like it. You just gotta go…because it’s good for you. And you know that good habits will pay off in the long run.
Most lawyers say they want great clients, challenging work and a decent income. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick and choose your clients and work only on stuff you really enjoy? Marketing and business development are what gets you there. And you should approach them much like diet and exercise.
Diet and exercise. Marketing and business development. A little bit every day. Week in and week out. Whether you feel like it or not. You just gotta go.
This month, I am challenging you to get into six great habits that will pay off in the long run. Nothing back-breaking. Just little things that will pay off over time. The best rainmakers already do this stuff on a regular basis. And so should you.
Habit #1: Show How Much You Care
Clients value lawyers who genuinely care about helping them achieve their goals and objectives. If you, as a lawyer, don’t care, you might consider another profession. But if you do care, it’s important that you show it. Client Site Visits, breakfast and lunch meetings, hand-written notes and the occasional phone call just to say hello are a few ways you can let clients and referral sources know how much you appreciate the trust and confidence they place in you. Get in the habit of showing your clients that you care about them and their success.
Habit #2: Always Return Your Phone Calls The Same Day
Most people get upset when their lawyer (or accountant or banker) fails to return their telephone calls. I know I do, and you probably do, too. Always, always, always return your phone calls (especially client phone calls) the same day. If you only decide to get into one of these six habits, this is it.
Habit #3: Meet Your Deadlines
First, don’t commit to deadlines you can’t meet. When you do set deadlines, make sure they are realistic and achievable. Mark them in your calendar, set reminders and beat them. If you realize that you can’t meet a deadline you’ve set, let the affected person(s) know about it as soon as possible. Most times, they appreciate the gesture and are OK with a reasonable delay. But don’t make your client come looking for you a week after you promised something and failed to deliver. Your client won’t be happy and that’s not good. Get in the habit of beating your deadlines.
Habit #4: Send Hand-Written Notes
Hand-written notes are a class act. Seven to ten words is all it takes. “It was great to meet you at the Chamber Dinner.” “Thanks for referring me to Joe Smith.” or “I thought you might be interested in the attached article.” Make sure that you hand address the envelope and use a stamp. E-mails are nice, but hand-written notes are much more memorable and effective. Get some nice note cards and envelopes, and keep a supply in your briefcase at all times. Write a few notes every week when you have a few minutes here and there. Get in the habit of sending hand-written notes.
Habit #5: Go to Breakfast or Lunch Once a Week
Get in the habit of taking clients, prospective clients, referral sources, reporters and others you want to know to breakfast or lunch. And do it at least once a week. To avoid random acts, create your “A” list and make it a goal to break bread with everybody on it a few times over the course of a year. Enlist the help of your assistant to create your list and schedule the meetings. Some of the best rainmakers I’ve ever met do this religiously. If you don’t take your top client to lunch every now and then, your competitors will be happy to do it for you.
Habit #6: Get Active in One Key Organization
Become actively involved in one key organization. Not three or four. Just one. I’ve noticed that lawyers like to join organizations, but seldom have time to go to meetings. Well, guess what? You’ll get out of it what you put into it.
We encourage lawyers to find a “target-rich” environment. While the United Way and Chamber of Commerce are nice, a real estate lawyer would be far better served investing his/her time in a real estate organization. Take the time to find the right organization for you and your practice. And when you find it, jump in with both feet! Go to the monthly meeting. Join a committee. And go. Make it a priority. Like exercise, you just gotta go.
Well there you have it. Six great habits. As a consultant to law firms, I try to do these things religiously, but it’s not always easy…especially when I’m on the road for an extended period of time. But it’s stuff that I’ve decided is important and I try my best to practice what I preach.
It’s up to you to make this stuff a priority. Just like your exercise regimen….whether you feel like it or not. You just gotta go. Ten years from now, you’ll look back and be glad you did.
About the Author
John Remsen, Jr. is President of TheRemsenGroup, a marketing consulting firm that works exclusively with law firms to help them attract and retain the clients they want. He can be reached at 404.885.9100 or JRemsen@TheRemsenGroup.com.