As I sat at the dinner table, picking at my meatloaf, my Father looked directly at me.
“Adrian, I hear you haven’t been practicing your piano. We’ve talked about this before.”
“Dad, I really want to learn to play piano, life is just really busy right now,” I argued.
“Adrian, we do the things in life we want to do.“
In dozens of conversations with busy professional I hear time and time again similar excuses to the ones I made to my Father as a kid. Read more
“Lawyers don’t want leads, they want clients” -Anonymous
Lawyers sometimes act as if the rules of business don’t apply to them. They don’t need to market, they don’t need to calculate the cost of goods sold, they don’t need to project manage and they certainly don’t need leads that may or may not convert into any real business. It is time that lawyers start to pay attention to insights from the rest of the business world. Last week Andrea Stimmel, Marketer of the Year, shared with me her opinion that for lawyers to stay on top of the latest trends they need to watch what other industries are doing with social media. Hubspot’s inbound marketing survey of 1,400 small-to-medium sized businesses allows you to do just that. You can see the entire report here.
Before I share with you what I found to be the most relevant statistics to lawyers, I just need to clarify one thing. This report speaks a lot about “leads” – not necessarily about new clients. Leads take two forms- (1) potential clients that come to your blog or website and call you to ask you questions, or (2) potential clients that “opt-in” by submitting their name and email address on your site. If your site isn’t set up for that, fix it. Leads drive appointments and appointments drive new engagements. Read more
About 3 years ago the law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP or “Curtis” had a problem. Or your could say they had a series of challenges:
1. To increase their visibility on law school campus’ in order to continue to attract top law students
2. To raise the visibility of the firm in targeted key markets
3. To enhance the collective networking efforts of their lawyers
CHALLENGE: They didn’t have a lot of money to spend to solve these problems. Read more
“Tell me something about your self that nobody else knows,” the Bachelorette asked Chris in their 1-on-1 time.
“I can be really funny,” Chris N. responds oblivious to the look on the Bachelorette’s face that seems to ask- “is that all you’ve got?”
“I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know you, what else can you tell me about yourself?” She asks him, giving him what would be his last chance to redeem himself before being ceremoniously dumped from the group of potential husbands for the Bachelorette.
“I like Mexican food.” No joke, that is seriously what he said. His last chance to redeem himself, open up, and all he has to say is that he likes to eat Mexican food.
We can all learn a lot from Chris N’s blunder.
(Side note: Let me just start by saying, my wife makes me watch The Bachelor with her. Let me further add, sometimes I enjoy it. For those of you that aren’t fans of the show, it is based on a very simple concept- if you take 25 guys looking for love and introduce them to 1 very pretty girl, and have her eliminate the men one at a time, eventually she will find her true love and live happily ever after. What makes it even more realistic, is that every interaction she has with the men, is filmed for the world to see. Or at least to be watched by girl’s night’s everywhere)
Chris had a problem, after spending weeks with this girl he couldn’t open up to her, in fact when lobbed a softball questions, “what can you tell me that nobody else knows about you?” He totally blew it. He should have shared a childhood memory, an embarrassing moment from high school, or his inability to park straight (actually that is mine, and my wife is well aware of it). Chris’ inability to have a conversation that was more substantial than sharing his favorite foods prevented him from engaging in what could have been a very worthwhile conversation.
I find that many professionals are similarly challenged when it comes to starting conversations with prospects. They have a hard time taking conversations beyond- where did you go to school? what did you study? Do you like Mexican food? Call it breaking the ice or call it having good social skills, it just doesn’t come naturally to most people.
So how can we do a better job of talking to people without coming across like we are forcing the conversation?
Here are three tips that I think might be helpful.
1. Say something to break the ice
Here is how NOT to start a conversation:
“Hi, I’m Adrian Dayton,” as you offer to shake hands. This makes you look presumptuous. #FAIL
or even worse,
“Hi, I’m Adrian Dayton, here is my business card.” #FAIL First off, why are you giving a total stranger your business card? Second, if you can’t think of anything to say to them in person, what are the chances are they are going to want an awkward conversation with you on the phone?
You need to be a little more strategic. Break the ice with something very generic:
“Is it always this hot in Chicago?”
“Did you manage to stay awake for that last speaker? That was rough.”
Obviously these need to be created to match your personality. This will put the other person at ease and show them you are interested in CONVERSATION not just acquiring a new contact.
2. Ask GREAT questions
The first question you ask may have to be a little generic:
“What do you do?”
But if you have already asked that, or you already know exactly what they do then it is time to ask a question that dives a little bit deeper:
“How have you weathered the economic storm of the last year?” “What have been the biggest challenges you have faced?” “Anything exciting coming out of your business in the next year that I should be aware of?”
These types of questions get to the heart of their business, something they are likely very passionate about. Give them a chance to brag about what has gone right- or share frustrations. Either way you show yourself to be more concerned about them than you are about promoting yourself.
3. Get an appointment
You don’t actually have to schedule an appointment on the spot, but you need to schedule some type of follow up that gives you an excuse to trade business cards.
“I just read an article about chimney sweeping in Asia that I think you would find really interesting as it pertains to the trends in the US market. Would it be ok if I emailed it to you?”
“I would love to learn more about how your company is dealing with the challenge of deregulation, could we set up a time to chat this next week?”
Successful networking is all about getting appointments, so remember- the purpose of every appointment is to make another appointment. You gotta keep things rolling.
BREAK THE ICE
ASK GREAT QUESTIONS
GET AN APPOINTMENT
By the way, these same steps work when networking online- so give them a try.
Chris got knocked off the Bachelorette last night, and it wasn’t because he didn’t want to create a relationship. It wasn’t because he didn’t like the girl. It was because he was afraid to open up, and afraid to expose himself. He wasn’t willing to take his conversations below the surface and really talk on another level. Do find yourself having similarly dull networking conversations? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your networking strategy. Time to get beyond, “I like Mexican food.”
As most of you know, I’m fascinated by the way Biglaw (the top 200 or so firms in the US) is dealing with innovation, especially as it relates to social media.
As you can see in the multiple posts I have written on the topic this last month:
Tomorrow we are having on the call one of the Biglaw pioneers of social media, Andrea Stimmel. Andrea won the Hubbard One Award for the Marketer of the Year this past January at the Marketing Partner Forum and she has agreed to come on the conference call tomorrow to discuss how she was able to overcome the barriers to adoption of social media as the Business Development Director of the New York City firm of Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.
Join our call Friday at 12PM EST to hear her tell her story. If you have any questions for Andrea or for myself, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the recording of the call:
When I was a kid I lived down the street from John Denniger. He was an expert on monsters.
“How do you kill a werewolf?” He quizzed me.
“Silver bullet.” That was an easy one.
“What about Dracula?”
“Wooden stake to the heart.” These weren’t even a challenge.
“How do you make The Blob (a large monster in the shape of you guessed it- a blob)?” This time John had me stumped, I had no idea.
“How,” I asked.
“All you need to do, is put a whole tube of toothpaste on the sidewalk, then add water with a garden hose.” He explained. I didn’t think to ask, but why didn’t bathroom water create The Blob in the sink, or why weren’t their thousands of Blob monsters in the sewers now? I just trusted him, and a full tube of toothpase later, I realized that I couldn’t create The Blob. John Denniger’s credibility took a serious hit.
Has social media failed to live up to the hype for you in the same way John’s advice on monsters failed me? Is social media for lawyers the new snake oil? Can it really help bring in business? Or is social media just a waste of time?
Online personalities love to talk in superlatives. Social media sucks, or social media will make your business explode. So which is it?
Scott Greenfield warns that social media is not the silver bullet, and that listening to legal marketers on the subject will do little more for you than lighten your wallet. Scott obviously believes social media is worth your time as evidence by his multiple blog posts each week. He also has reaped the rewards of the increased exposure from his blog, having been asked to speak on numerous panels and even landing a “big” client through social media (a fact that he loves to minimize.) It isn’t a major source of business for him though, at least not directly- but it has certainly opened doors for him.
Lawyers from Scott Greenfield’s camp are protecting other lawyers from social media help, because they didn’t need it. They pulled themselves up by their boot straps to learn social media and blogging, so why shouldn’t you? It’s so easy a caveman could do it. You get the idea.
This argument resonates with their online community, because the vast majority of them have learned social media by simply doing it.
If you are passionate about learning how to use social media, jump in. Read the blog posts, follow the Twitter feeds of people you respect and learn by doing. This is a great way to learn anything. But if you are reading this post, you have most likely already figured that out- you understand the power of sharing knowledge and the impressive resources that are at your fingertips through social media. You get it. If you are like me, there was a moment in time when a switch was flipped in your mind and you went from being a skeptic to a believer.
What does it mean to be a believer in social media?
To believe in social media is to comprehend the awesome power these tools have to connect total strangers in a meaningful way. Separated by geography, ethnicity and even socio-economic status- social media creates communities of like-minded individuals.
Will social media make you a rainmaker? Sadly, no. It takes a certain skill set to bring in business- and proficiency in more than just tweeting. You have to be able to set goals, take conversations offline, follow up and have the experience to close the deal. Social media however can be a powerful tool to facilitate business development. It is all about access, and social media will open doors to access people that before would have been protected by far too many gate keepers.
When I unexpectedly lost my job as an attorney almost 15 months ago, as I explain in my book, two weeks later I had a signed job offer- but I turned it down. The opportunity to be a part of such a massive shift in the way people communicate was just too compelling. The era where social media was considered a novelty is coming to a close – over the next 24 months law firms will become big believers in social media and unleash the true power of these tools by allowing all of their attorneys to participate.
We aren’t there yet, not even close. That is what makes this so exciting, to see it coming. To really take advantage of social media, large firms need to take advantage of their strength in numbers. The AmLaw 200 was recently praised for having more than 297 blogs. Over 100,000 of the best and brightest attorneys and they have come up with a measly 297 blogs? Imagine when a single large firm, like perhaps Baker & McKenzie (3949 attorneys) sees the real vision of social media and has 10% of their attorneys blogging? They would have more blogs than all of the rest of Biglaw combined. We aren’t there yet, not even close, but the day is coming.
Would blogs and social media make all of those attorneys into rainmakers? Certainly not, but would it give Baker & McKenzie substantially more exposure? Absolutely. It would be monumental. They would be part of online discussions in every major practice group, top the Google searches for novel practice areas and they would be seen as the leading innovators when it came to technology use by a large firm. We haven’t seen large law firms successful integrate social media at anywhere near that scale, but it is coming.
Social media isn’t the silver bullet that will save your practice, and toothpaste won’t help you create The Blob, but don’t deny the power of social media. The growth of social media has only just begun, and it will remain long after the monster myths of John Denniger are forgotten. Do you believe in social media? What does that mean to you?
This Friday Hubbard One Marketer of the Year Andrea Stimmel from the mid-sized firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle will be joining us to discuss how their firm has made social media pay. Join the discussion at 12pm EST this Friday. Click here to sign up for the call.
Three weeks ago there was a game changing survey released by Green Target in conjunction with ALM showing that in-house counsel are not only using social media and reading blogs, they are trusting it for their news.
The survey has been covered on everything from Above the Law to Mashable, but most of these outlets have failed to note the significance of the findings when it comes to Facebook use in-house. (Complete survey can be viewed at http://greentarget.net) These two statistics from the survey with regards to use of Facebook by in-house counsel were particularly surprising.
37% of in-house counsel ages 30-39 used Facebook for PROFESSIONAL reasons in the last 24 hours.
28% of ALL in-house counsel for companies ranging from $1-10 Billion in revenue used Facebook for professional reasons in the last 24 hours.
What does this mean? It means that what law firms think about Facebook is wrong. In fact, what I thought about Facebook was wrong. Biglaw needs to start paying attention to Facebook, not because that is where in-house counsel is headed, but because that is where they are spending their time now.
As of March 2010, only 31 firms from the AmLaw 100 had Facebook pages, but suddenly due to an agreement between Facebook and Wikipedia if your firm has a wikipedia entry, it also has a Facebook page. Read more about this at “Firms No Fan of Facebook Pages.”
Facebook is pulling in information from Wikipedia to populate your firm’s community page whether you like it or not. LinkedIN does a similar thing for Company pages, populating the company page with information entered by the past and present employees.
What does this mean for the legal industry? Will firms now turn their focus to Facebook? Not immediately, is my guess, but joining us tomorrow at 12PM EST to talk about it on the Weekly Voir Dire Conference Call will be John Corey, President of Green Target to discuss the findings of this survey and how it is shaking up the legal world. Please join us for what is sure to be a great call. You can email questions for him to email@example.com.