re you developing business solely by optimism and serendipity? Be honest. If that is how you have done it in the past, declare that 2018 is the year it will change! But change to what? That is the question. In order for your business to be driven by more than optimism and serendipity, you must think about where you want to go and how to get there. That is a PLAN. Your plan can be a page, 10 pages, a binder full or simply some notes on a napkin. It’s not about the form; it’s about the content. Write it down, no matter what form it takes. Putting it on paper solidifies your commitment to the plan. AND … sharing it with others ensures you will be accountable.
Start by deciding what your destination will be. How much revenue do you want or how many new clients do you want? What practice areas do you want to grow or do you want to start a new practice area? Start with the destination. Then figure out what you need to do to get there and by when.
Your plan will consist of goals, projections, dreams and educated guesses. Here are a few ideas to consider as you figure out what your roadmap could look like:
Building Relationships: The world has changed. The internet has opened up vast amounts of information and new opportunities to reach people. But what has not changed is the human desire for relatedness. We still want to work with people we know, like and trust. Leverage every possible relationship and continually build new ones. Here are two ways to do this:
1. Work your referrals. How long has it been since you really worked your referrals? Make a list of all your referral sources. Code them A, B or C. The A’s are the most productive; they have sent you several leads. The B’s are the ones you have gotten a few referrals from, but not as many as you should. The C’s are the ones that have potential if you spent some time cultivating the relationship. Set a goal to work these lists on a regular schedule. How many calls will you make a week? How many events will you attend where you could run into them? Who do you know that could possibly put in a few good words for you?
2. Review your entire contact list to see if there are people you know that could introduce you to people of influence. Is there someone with whom you could form a strategic alliance?
Increasing Credibility: You may have a great reputation within your circle of influence, but that will take you only so far. If you want to grow your practice you need to move beyond your circle. Here are a few strategies to consider:
1. Write articles, blogs and books. There is no better way to demonstrate your points of differentiation than in the content you write. It makes you the expert. What will you commit to? How many articles? Are you going to start a blog? Is this the year you write that book you’ve been thinking about for years?
2. Make speeches and give seminars to trade organizations, bar associations or business associations. Find the organization that you can speak to on several topics. The more times you can appear in front of the same audience the better. Find your target.
3. What could you leave with your prospect that could speak for you in your absence? A folder with your business card, a firm brochure and an article or two? Yes, you can tell this potential client to visit your website. However, if you are no longer in control, they may or may not go there. When you hand them a well thought out, impressive package it increases your credibility. YOU are in control of delivering that message in a powerful personal way.
Increasing Visibility: You can’t have a practice without visibility. It can be rocket fuel when attacked from several directions. For instance:
1. Can your potential clients find out about you through the internet? In this day and age it is imperative that you have an internet presence. They must be able to find more than directories with your office location and phone number, or your website with basic information. It must be information of substance (the great content that you’re going to write.)
2. Every lawyer should have a LinkedIn profile. It’s the social media site that is professional, easy to use and well respected. You can choose to be active or not so much … you decide.
3. Do your referral sources see you regularly at bar or industry events? Do you stay in touch with your friends, colleagues and classmates? Set your goals. Select the organization and commit to going to one event per month or making one phone call a day to a friend, colleague or classmate. What will you commit to?
4. Is there a publication where advertising would make sense? Does it reach your potential client or referral sources? What message could you communicate that would set you apart from other lawyers?
5. Make an objective review of your website. Does it convey the quality of the legal services you deliver? Is the message clear and concise? Is it easy to navigate? Does it look like a 2018 site or a 1999 site? It doesn’t need to be state-of-the-art, but it does need to reflect who you are today.
These are a few sets of ideas to consider in creating your road map. I’m sure your unique situation will reveal even more. Figure out what actions are necessary for your growth, set your goals with due dates and commit to making them happen. Next, find a co-conspirator, mentor or coach that will hold you accountable. Then, keep your plan alive … by talking about it often.
Someone once told me if you want to be sure to lose something… leave it in your memory. And if you don’t really want to do it … don’t tell anyone.
So, tell me. How committed are you to your 2018 success? Okay then… WRITE A PLAN! D
Paula Black is a legal business development and branding expert, author and coach. She is the award-winning author of “The Little Black Book” series for lawyers and the force behind In Black & White (inblackandwhiteblog.com), a blog dedicated to clear, straight forward advice and open discussion on legal business development issues. Ms. Black has recently been voted one of the Top Legal Business Development Coaches in The Daily Business Review’s 2017 “Best of” Awards. You can contact Ms. Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.