I get asked by younger attorneys and attorneys who are trying to build a practice exactly how to get clients. I remember well the first time I heard someone say “you should be a good rainmaker”. Fact is, the best way to advance in your career is to get a keep clients or should I say “paying clients”. For many this is very challenging. To newly minted attorneys this is like asking them to run before they can walk. How can you sell your legal services if you don’t know how to practice law? So the challenge for managing attorneys is to teach new attorneys how to practice and simultaenously push them to sell their abilities to others.
There are two good books out there on these subjects by Jay Foonberg which are must reads. Ultimately, however, it is a individual process. The process often leads to discouragement and disillusion especially for those who are worker bees at large firms who decide to strike out on their own and those who cannot find a job after law school (approximately 45% of this year’s graduating attorneys) who decide to hang out that shingle.
As any good rainmaker knows, it takes awhile to hone these skills and to develop the confidence in your legal ability. I remember the first time I realized that people were hiring me because I actually DID know what I was doing. The feeling that you are appreciated for your years of education and skills is good feeling.
Recently, I ran across a reference to the 7 Pillars of Connecting With Absolutely Anyone which is a blog post from April written by Scott Dinsmore for Forbes. I read it and said “I must share this.” Mr. Dinsmore lays out a simple plan for how to make connections in life and this is the essence of what attorneys do when they try to sell their services to clients. I think the quote at the beginning of the article says it best:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
At first read, many may say that connecting with everyone you encounter may not lead to business and or I am too busy to speak to and act interested with the clerk at the courthouse or the cleaning lady in my building. But the reality is your reputation as a person and as an attorney is built one person at a time. Every person you meet may be connected to someone else. The moral is that you need to invest interest and time in others in order for people to invest in you and feel confident in recommending you.
In addition to building of your business, these interactions can help you feel more open hearted, at ease and safer. Being kind to people is a way to stave off the isolation many attorneys particularly solos feel. For more on the benefits of being friendly you can check out Rick Hanson’s blog post and his book Just One Thing.
The bottem line is that martketing isn’t just a sales pitch. A law practice is built on interactions and relationships. Building a network of people from varying industries can benefit you throughout your career and is a great way to feel more centered in your daily life. Plus, it can reduce your stress and connect you to others who can provide resources you may need in the furture.