By Kimberly Alford Rice
Special to the Legal
Were you born to be a marketing rock star? When you were in law school, were you thinking, “I can’t wait to market myself as a lawyer?”
Chances are you answered no to both of those questions. I guess we could say that marketing is still one of the dirty little secrets to some lawyers when they realize that the best passage to career fulfillment, independence and financial security is to develop their own clients.
Whether or not someone requires a certain number of “marketing” hours from you a month or if you are expressly advised not to worry about getting your own clients, remember you read it here first: if you are in private practice, you are in business for yourself. You are your business, simply speaking.
Remember, rainmakers are not born, but rather trained. Not everyone has the charisma - nor is as comfortable as Ed Rendell - to work a room, but devoting necessary time and energy to determining what activities will be effective for you is an important part of investing in your career.
Learning to promote your practice early on will help you make a lasting impression, develop long-lasting relationships and build a solid book of business. Craft your marketing style to ensure you get noticed and stay top of mind for clients, prospects and fellow attorneys.
Begin with a solid strategic marketing plan, take massive amounts of action over a prolonged period of time and always remember:
- To be successful, consistently provide high-quality legal work and superior service to clients and partners of the firm. Ask your clients and colleagues how you’re doing from time to time.
- Clients always come first. Develop a helpful spirit toward them and remember it’s not about you.
- Take concrete steps to build long-lasting relationships. Give careful thought to how you can do that.
Develop a plan and follow through. The first step to promoting your practice is to write down your goals and objectives on paper. Create a business development plan that is tailored to fit your individual style – not your neighbor’s. Write down realistic steps you can take to support your overall goals.
For example, if your goal is to build a reputation as a maritime lawyer, you need to find ways to get in front of those individuals who are in a position to retain you for those services. Several useful marketing tactics may be: (1) Research local maritime professional associations and attend a meeting (before you join) to gain a sense of who attends and the substance of their programming; (2) research media vehicles in which to author articles, blog posts, etc., to demonstrate your expertise in this special niche practice; and (3) get connected via social media with others associated with everything marine. See how this works?
- Identify a goal.
- Develop specific action steps to support your achieving the goals.
In case no one has tipped you off, there is NO magic bullet for building a prosperous practice. Here’s the simple secret: Once you have identified your overall goal(s) and developed specific action steps to support achieving your goals, then you must (here it comes) devote consistent, persistent massive amount of action over a prolonged period of time to realize marketing success (i.e., clients). That's the secret!
Kimberly Alford Rice is principal of KLA Marketing Associates, a business development advisory firm focusing on legal services. As a legal marketing authority, she helps law firms and lawyers develop practical business development and marketing strategies which lead directly to new clients and increased revenues. Additionally, she provides career management services to lawyers in transition. She can be reached at 609-458-0415 or via e-mail at email@example.com.