Friday, April 30, 2010

Elevator Speak - - What Not To Say.

Riding in an elevator this week I ran into a lawyer I used to know a little bit. In the space of about 25 seconds of small talk he made two thoughtless remarks. His second remark left me at a loss for words.

Afterwards I realized that his carelessness came from his own current state of mind and could have landed on anyone. I just happened to be the one in the elevator with him at that moment.

Some marketing people focus on elements like elevator speeches. When coaching lawyers about marketing and business development, I keep coming back to the importance of building relationships and using relationship skills. This incident made me think again not about elevator speeches but about relationship skills.

Take a look at your personal interactions and your relationship skills, regardless of whether you are talking with someone on an elevator or elsewhere. Are your interactions positive or negative? Are you a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?

For more on the power of positive interactions, see Rath & Clifton's classic How Full is Your Bucket?

I wonder how that lawyer's relationship skills are serving him in his effort to rebuild a book of business.

If you would like coaching to work on your relationship skills, or your 15 second self-introduction/elevator speech, please contact me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lucky Charms? Really?

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday on new research that suggests how lucky charms help people perform better:

Doesn't this just boil down to how lucky charms boost some people's confidence, and increased confidence helps improve personal performance?

Instead of, or in addition to, believing in luck, what can you do to boost your confidence?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Be More Machiavellian, Less Altruistic?

This NY Times article considers how traits like Machiavellianism and aggressiveness may have a direct impact on compensation and play a role in pay disparities between genders.

I don't advocate becoming Machiavellian but I do urge you to consider your own personality traits and strengths, and whether and how you can become a better advocate for yourself , regardless of your gender.

For example, I recently coached a lawyer client on how she always shines the light on other lawyers she works with and away from herself. As she talked about her preference to stay out of the light, she realized that by so doing, she actually reinforces for others and herself the impression that she is insignificant. Like other lawyers and other people, she is beginning to learn that appropriately sharing success stories does directly affect how others view her.

Try out a few different ways of projecting more of an image of success in the next few weeks and notice what happens. See if you notice a difference by June.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Of Bucket Lists and Bucket Brigades

Last night a lawyer friend of mine crossed an item off her bucket list. The diva, aka "Rachel Rules", channeled Aretha and others for an hour at a birthday party for herself. R-E-S-P-E-C-T....

Rewind. The idea started to take shape where many things do -- in a bar. During the afterglow of a bar association dinner two months ago, Rachel shared with a handful of friends that she has always wanted to sing live with a band at least once. The second anniversary of her 50th birthday was fast approaching and her years of karaoke were not going to count.

Among those of us present was a multi-talented lawyer on whom Energizer modeled its bunny. He got going bright & early the next morning, calling Rachel with a list of suggested lawyer musicians just as she lay wondering why she had revealed this particular item on her bucket list of things to do. That afternoon he showed up at her office with a potential playlist of songs. American Idol fans volunteered their availability as potential backup singers and musicians. The Ann Arbor legal community was abuzz.

Fast forward to last night. The club's lights spun, the dry ice drifted, the band rocked and Rachel ruled. Rachel had a great time. We all did. You can't go wrong when you open with Mustang Sally and work in a costume change.

Take a look at your own bucket list. What's on it? Who's in your brigade? When will you get started?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Personal Wellness on Earth Day: Headsets, Standing & Tungling

Odds and ends to contemplate for your own wellness on Earth Day.

Headsets & earpieces: I recently coached a lawyer client a tiny bit around headsets and earpieces. Her back problem isn't helped by holding a telephone to her ear with her hand or shoulder for long periods of time. Her consideration for her colleagues on either side of her office keeps her from using the speakerphone, even with the door closed.

Many people dislike looking as if they are taking an order at a drive-through. Others dislike wireless earpieces in public because all of a sudden the man next to you is either talking to himself, to you or is on his phone. It's annoying.

I use a headset I bought at RadioShack for about $30. It plugs easily into my land line handset and my cell phone. It works well and I haven't even seen any gawkers when I wear it occasionally in the car. It works much more reliably and without the static and other noise that I experienced with various wireless type earpieces.

Try a headset or an earpiece in your office if you are concerned about your back or posture. But by "in your office", I mean within the walls that form the working space that contains your individual desk and telephone. Don't walk around in the halls or stand over your trusty administrative assistant while talking on the phone. You will drive people crazy. This reminds me of one of my former partners who had a reeeeeeeeeally long telephone cord on his phone so that he could be on his phone and stand out in the hall at his secretary's desk at the same time. It drove her crazy.

Standing: I read something last week about how people who stand on the job burn more calories than those who sit. I don't think I'll make standing the key component of an exercise plan, but this bit of information did make me question why I always sit while coaching my lawyer clients on the phone. I can't recall where I read the article, but I just Googled the topic and the results include a suggestion by the Mayo Clinic. So stand while talking on the phone sometime. Improved posture, better circulation, burnt calories. What's not to like?

Tungling: I learned about this morning from a lawyer I know in town. It's a free online scheduling tool for making appointments and avoiding doublebooking and email tag with your clients and other people. The website doesn't reveal what "tungle" means (!), but it does have a short video demonstrating how the tool works. I haven't used it or tried it, but it looks easy and my lawyer friend likes it. Check it out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't Let The Clock Run Out.

Where does business come from and how soon will it come? How long does it take to build a practice?

I don't know the specific answer for you to these questions. But I do know that business comes from picking just a few marketing activities for your niche, and doing them consistently, over and over again. It comes from developing name recognition and a solid reputation. It comes from developing credibility and trust. A sustainable practice does not come without these elements.

A newer lawyer I know is closing her practice. She got to the end of her financial resources just as she decided to pick a subniche, identify her ideal client base and start to learn how to reach it through focused networking and marketing. Smart, energetic and passionate, she ran out of time too soon.

If you don't have any idea how to start doing and developing these things, contact me or another lawyer coach. I give complimentary 30 minute coaching calls so that you can experience the benefits of coaching. We can get you going. I don't want you to run out of time.

Do You Know?

"Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to? Do you know?"

"Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open door.
What are you hoping for? Do you know?"

-Diana Ross

Law students, recent graduates and other young or newer lawyers often tell me that they are too new to pick a practice area, they don't know what kind of law they want to practice and they don't know where they are going. They just want a job, or to open a practice, or to start getting more clients.

They have no idea what they want, what to get into or how or why to choose an area or two for practice. Like many lawyers, new ones and experienced ones, they are afraid to pick one or two practice areas and say no to other areas and other potential clients because they may be turning down an opportunity to get paid. They know this can lead to a serious juggling act trying to be a jack of all trades and providing an answer to everyone, but they are young, energetic, eager and in need of money. It often leads to unfocused marketing, wasted time and money, exhaustion, frustration and burnout. It doesn't lead to top of mind awareness with potential clients or referral sources.

In contrast, a lawyer I met last week at the sports law conference said that she thinks the key question to ask yourself is not what kind of law you want to practice, but who do you want calling you? Who do you want to work with? I think it's a more personal way of asking yourself who you want to represent.

Yes, this question may lead to the same answer as what kind of law do you want to practice, but it may get you to the answer a lot sooner and with a better understanding of why. You may not know enough about practice areas to know which to choose, where there is going to be growth and opportunity and which area is well suited for you. But from your life experience, you probably have some idea about how you relate with people and with whom who you might like to work.

If you are already established as a lawyer in a practice area, I think it's also a very good question to use to develop a niche within your area of practice. The answer can help you refine and really focus your marketing efforts and resources.

If you are an estate planning lawyer, what demographic do you want to call you? If you are a business transactions lawyer, what type of business owner do you want to call you? Small, medium, large, startup, fairly new or established? If you are a divorce lawyer, who do you want calling you? Young marrieds, older couples, established and wealthy, up and comers? If you are a criminal defense lawyer, do you want to represent everyone, or do you want to work with young defendants, only defendant charged with felonies, juveniles, all in one county or across multiple counties, etc.? Even think about who you want calling you and working with you as referral sources.

Who do you want to work with? Who do you want calling you?

If you would like coaching to start identifying your ideal potential clients and develop more business, please contact me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Learning a New Game

"It's a different ball game out there now." "The rules of the game have changed."

These cliches apply to how some lawyers perceive marketing and business development in the last few years. Some lawyers might be thinking things like "I've never had to play this game before." "I don't know how to play." "I don't want to play." "Why do I have to play?"

Learning a new game can be harder now than it was when we were younger. As children, learning a new game was relatively easy. Our minds were still relatively empty, uncluttered by a long life of experience and accumulated knowledge. Free from a history of successes and failures. We were willing to take chances because we didn't know we were taking a chance. We were unhampered by "what if's" and "yeah, but's". Now as adults we know more. We are cluttered, hampered and often unwilling or reluctant because taking chances and making changes are hard things to do. As lawyers we are used to doing familiar things and doing them well. We don't like the idea of doing something new at which we are not yet skilled. We might fail. We might look foolish or incompetent.

So what can we do to help ourselves learn a new game, take a chance, make a change? Although it's not always easy, here's a basic game plan that works for many of my lawyer clients and other people, including myself:

1. Know what you want to change and why.
2. Identify the benefits and rewards.
3. Make the commitment to change, to learn the new game.
4. Learn the rules. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Then prepare some more.
5. Join the game. Take the plunge. Start.
6. Self-assess and evaluate as you go along and afterwards.
7. Congratulate yourself for joining the game, taking the plunge, doing something new.
8. Identify what you did well and congratulate yourself.
9. Identify what you will do differently next time.
10. Rinse and repeat.

Recently I had an uncomfortable evening playing euchre at a friend's euchre tournament. (The party was lovely and the players were friendly. The discomfort was my own. ) Another friend had taught me the basics in the last two weeks so that I could participate. I was tense and quiet doing something new in which I had no real skill. I knew I was the only rookie. I had to concentrate so much that I couldn't do the things that come more naturally to me like getting to know new people. That internal conflict made me even more uncomfortable. I made several mistakes during the evening. But of course by the end I had learned a lot, and after the cards were over I relaxed and had a good time.

My sister asked me if I'll do it again. Even though the idea still makes me physically uncomfortable, I will. I can use my game plan. I know I'll get better only with practice and by playing.

For now, I hope that this experience makes me a better coach and a better friend. I appreciate again how hard it is to take a chance and do something new with the fear that we could fail or look foolish.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Communication Spring Tune-Up

Give your communication skills a spring tune-up. Check out the advice toward the end of this article to help you with common stereotypes, perceptions and the fine line that women leaders and managers often have to walk. Although this article focuses on women, it can apply to anyone.

Tune up your communication skills and you will tune up your relationship skills. Better relationship skills lead to business development success, as well as more effective teamwork, management and leadership. Of course, they work in your personal life as well. I know this firsthand from the lawyers I coach!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top Five Lawyers Who Were Great College Hoopsters

I saw a reference to this posting tonight and checked it out. Being a Michigan Wolverine and having routed for Butler last night, I skipped #1 and went straight to #2. Make sure to watch the video. Fortunately and/or unfortunately I was at that championship game in 1993.

Top Five Lawyers Who Were Great College Hoopsters

Speaking of sports law related careers, don't forget about the Sports Law Conference on April 16 in Ann Arbor about sports law related practices and careers. See my March 13 post for more information.

Posted using ShareThis