Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visualize Success: More Examples of 2010 Successes

I share a few more of this year's real life successes to help lawyers visualize their own definition of success for 2011 and how they can get there. (As always, I've used fictional names for privacy purposes.)

Charles' solo practice grew steadily this first year after he left the firm. By providing excellent legal advice and services and expanding his contacts, he continues to get more referrals, to be hired by other firms for specialty work, and to get repeat business from happy, satisfied clients.

Tamra's niche work continues to increase as she finds ways to let people know what she focuses on and of her accumulating successes. Despite the economy, she had record setting months financially this fall after many years of practice.

By achieving a very challenging personal goal this year, Ally realized that with the right plan she can also take on significant professional challenges that she never would have tried before. And just as she formed new habits to achieve her personal goal, she is creating new habits that help her more efficiently manage her case load.

Matthew created procedures to streamline his work and have more control over it. He focused on building his own practice and set boundaries for when and what he would do to service his partners' work. He raised his visibility and increased his credibility. As a result he took a worry free vacation and brought in more new business and more revenue than ever before after many years in his firm.

Samantha overcame a paralyzing fear of public speaking this year. She now even almost looks forward to her next presentation. Her tremendous growth in this area spills over to her professional presence and confidence within her firm as well. Her value as a partner is being acknowledged more than ever.

Hannah interviewed and was hired for her dream job this year. She overcame an unexpected rough start by focusing on what was most important. Now, thanks to her intelligence, humor, common sense and work ethic, her star is rising at a record setting pace.

If you would like to make changes in 2011 and reach your own definition of success, please contact me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Listen Up, Lawyers: 5 Rules For Really Listening (per David Winter)

Communicating includes listening. Communicating with your clients, partners, other colleagues, other lawyers, potential clients etc., includes listening to them. Since communicating is a relationship skill, when you improve your listening, you will improve your professional and personal relationships. How does that sound?

David Winter, a successful plaintiff's lawyer in metropolitan Detroit and a friend of mine, shared some of his advice on listening this week. Like the #1 rule for losing weight, Dave's 5 rules for listening are simple but not easy.

"Let’s get one thing straight, listening isn’t waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can provide a rebuttal. Listening is understanding, interpreting, and paying attention to what is said. The pathway to successful listening is outlined by five rules. Learn and practice them and your career as a lawyer will become a much more rewarding experience, professionally, personally and financially.

The rules I follow are:

  • Listen to why something is important to the speaker.

  • Confirm you understand the speaker’s true meaning.

  • Ask for explanations, don’t assume.

  • Don’t offer opinions.

  • Edit out internal responses."

Learn and use these rules in 2011. Notice what happens.

If you would like coaching on your professional relationships, please contact me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Year In Review and 2011 Preview

What are you most proud of from 2010?

When I asked my lawyer clients this question last week and this week, almost all of them said they are most proud of how they have taken more control of their practice, career or work day this year. And almost all of them say they did this by developing better business practices, asserting themselves more and raising their profile within and/or outside of their firm. To start making changes, they had to be brave, step outside their comfort zone and stop doing what wasn't working.

Take time this week or weekend to list 100 accomplishments (yes 100!) from 2010 - - large, small, professional, personal, events, actions, tangibles and intangibles, whatever. No one but you needs to see your list. This is a time to be proud of yourself and who you were this year.

So acknowledge yourself and your year. You will see that you accomplished more than you realize and more than you give yourself credit for. You will also more clearly see what you want to accomplish in 2011, who and how you want to be, and how you will make it happen.

Congratulations on 2010 and best wishes for 2011.

If you are ready for coaching to make 2011 your best year yet, please contact me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Associates in Law Firms: Year 1 Business Development Plan

"People do business with people they know, like and trust." Successful franchises survive on this maxim because they are known to consistently provide a good quality product or service. In fact, most successful businesses depend on this principle, including successful lawyers, financial advisors and pediatricians, barbers, hair colorists and babysitters.

Last week I worked with new associates in law firms about how to use this principle to form a basic business development plan for their first year as a lawyer. We talked about the following elements of a plan:

1. Your Reputation (in marketing terms a.k.a. your "brand"): decide now what you want your reputation to be inside and outside of your firm by the end of 2011 and what specific steps you will take to develop that reputation. Be as specific as possible when defining your ideal reputation for your first year and how you will achieve it.

2. Your Network: identify ways to strengthen your existing relationships, rekindle former relationships and establish new ones - - inside and outside of your firm, personal as well as professional.

3. Marketing: learn ways to appropriately let people know what you do as a lawyer. This can include in person, on your business card, through your profile and status bars on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media, your bio on the firm website, your email signature block, information at the end of your articles, etc. For example, even as a brand new associate, you should practice a brief self-introduction, a.k.a. an elevator speech. Know what services you and/or your firm offer and the types of clients with whom you work. In other words, know how you and your firm help and who benefits.

Just as you should with respect to developing your legal knowledge and substantive skills as a lawyer, watch and learn about business development from lawyers you admire.

You will probably hear and learn that there is no secret formula or a sure thing when it comes to getting clients and developing business. But credibility and visibility are two keys to generating business. So start taking steps to become known, liked and trusted inside and outside of your firm. It's a great time to start.

If you are interested in coaching to get started now, please contact me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Parties: Go With a Purpose and a Plan Even If . . .

Networking Survival Tip for Lawyers this Holiday Season: go with a purpose and a plan even if it is a purely social and non work related party.

If you just want to relax, have a good time and talk with your friends, that is your purpose and your plan. Permit yourself to do just that and you will. You will be guilt-free and relaxed.

Similarly, if you are going to a work-related party that you will log as business development time, know your purpose for attending and how you will achieve it. Maybe you want to catch up with five people you haven't seen in a while. Perhaps you want to meet three potential referral sources. How about a new client as a result of attending this party? By going with a purpose and a plan, you will spend your time more effectively and you will be that much closer to getting what you want.

Another word of advice - - only ask for a business card from people you actually connected with and enjoyed meeting. If you can't imagine ever having coffee with someone, sending them an email, or putting them together with someone else, save yourself time and angst afterwards. You don't have to get their card.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Business Development for Lawyers: Real Life Examples of Successful Behaviors

Lawyer Patrick provides value first every day. He does this for clients, prospective clients, referral sources and potential referral sources. He doesn't keep score and he doesn't expect anything in return. He goes out of his way to help people. This practice philosophy took time to begin paying off but now it always pays off in engagements, referrals, information or other opportunities. Sooner or later it always pays off.

Lawyer Anya engages with her target market at least twice a week. She has coffee or lunch with people in her target market and attends other events for them. She provides information and puts people together for their own benefit. She looks for and creates opportunities to help her target market. She is increasing her visibility and building her credibility in that market. It took well over a year but now she regularly gets new clients from her efforts, and she can track the clients to those efforts.

Lawyer Karla approaches every day with a business development attitude and belief that she can succeed in getting more clients. She is in court several times a week. She always sees and looks forward to the opportunity to be a great lawyer for her clients in the courtroom. She always sees and looks forward to the effect that has on her reputation in the courthouse. She always looks forward to meeting new people while she is there. She has the same philosophy in situations beyond the courthouse. Her confidence and success attitude, combined with her open, friendly way with people, create opportunities for people to approach her, seek her help or at least want to get to know her. She gets referrals from her clients and from other people who meet and see her in action in the court. She also gets referrals from other professionals and friends who know of her client relationship skills and her courtroom skills.

Of course, these lawyers have other components in their marketing and business development plans. But these three examples demonstrate how choosing and commiting to a behavior, and doing it over and over and over again, leads to success.

What new behavior would you like to establish? What will lead to your success? If you would like coaching to get you there faster, please contact me.