Throughout my legal marketing career, I have helped scores of women lawyers identify and pursue targeted new business opportunities, and with great success. But one issue that comes up often, is the concept that marketing for women lawyers is different than the marketing efforts of male colleagues. In many cases women lawyers may not feel comfortable asking a male client to meet for happy hour, attend a ball game, or go shooting at a game farm. In most cases, women lawyers do not implement their relationship-based marketing using the same strategies men do.
I would never want to label women lawyers as being disadvantaged when it comes to marketing. Rather, it’s just the opposite. I am convinced that women lawyers who adopt their own unique and creative marketing approach by honoring their life experiences and interests, will successfully create a personal marketing style. Consider the following tips that can take the uncomfortable edge off traditional, many times male-focused marketing activities.
IT’S JUST LUNCH
Asking a client or referral source to lunch regardless of their sex can be a very strong way to personally connect and in doing so, build the relationship.
Many lawyers feel uncomfortable with the inevitable small talk that occurs over lunch. Remember that when you are asking questions, not only are you are in control of the conversation, but your dining partner will see that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT SELLING
Your role at lunch or coffee should never be to sell your services. Your mission is to build and nurture the relationship. Take the pressure off yourself and just enjoy getting to know your contact a little better.
Ask your colleagues, male and female, about their families, kids, upcoming vacations, and personal hobbies. Make a mental note and when you return to the office, write these things down in the notes section of either Outlook, LinkedIn, or your firm’s CRM. These tidbits will come in handy the next time you talk to the person and ask them how their trip to Italy was.
Take the time after you meet with someone, or meet them for the first time at an event, to send them a handwritten note letting them know how much you enjoyed your discussion with them. You will make a very strong positive impression.
Attend your local and state bar association section meetings. If you have been practicing less than five years, join the new lawyers’ section. Lawyers refer a lot of business to one another. Get to know your peers and colleagues by taking the time to attend meetings of interest to you.
Set a goal of belonging to one trade association that attracts prospective clients or referral sources. Make a commitment to that organization and attend the meetings, volunteer, sponsor, write, speak, and participate. Become a high-profile member!
DEVELOP AND NURTURE A STRONG REFERRAL NETWORK
It is likely the vast majority of your business comes from referrals. Create a list of your top 10 referral sources and identify on your calendar when you will follow up with each person throughout the year. Send them articles you think they would find interesting, add them to your database. The goal is to stay top-of-mind with this important group.
Writing is about finding an information need, and filling it. But first you must read the publications valued by your clients and referral sources. Develop an article outline and send it to the publisher (don’t write the full article yet). When the editor expresses interest, you’re in! Once your article is published, add it to your website, promote it on LinkedIn, and have copies in your lobby. Just last week a client of mine told me how her feature story in Attorney at Law Magazine resulted in a new client who liked her approach after reading her article, and immediately hired her.
Make sure presenting at CLEs is not all you do in the area of speaking. You can do this by asking your best contacts what organizations they belong to and even enlisting their help introducing you to the organization’s executive director or event planner.
What I love most about LinkedIn is that you can research and engage with your contacts on your own time. Compliment their achievements and promotions on LinkedIn. You can also use the Advanced Search feature to research your contact’s contacts and ask for an introduction.
BLOGGING AND THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
Every month, PSM provides analytic reports to clients on the effectiveness of their websites and social media activities. Each time, current blog posts are among the most highly visited pages. Blog posts should be 400- 600 words and should focus on knowledge you already have. Did you just answer a question for a client? Create a blog post around the question, why it’s relevant, and the options available to readers.
Women lawyers have strong inherent relationship building skills. The goal is to use these skills and apply them to the growth of your practice. If you pursue marketing activities you feel comfortable with, you are much more likely to generate positive results.