Major clients value and seek out diversity in the outside counsel they retain. Additionally, more women are hiring attorneys since a high percentage of both general counsels, and senior executives are women. And more women than men are starting businesses. As such, more firms are making efforts towards hiring and retaining women. Despite all this, the bottom line is that results are rewarded. If you deliver business results for clients, you will earn your clients’ ongoing business, loyalty, and referrals. And law firms reward rainmakers.
So, women attorneys need to step up their marketing efforts. Relationships, word-of-mouth, and social media remain the best forms of marketing and business development. Below are several tips to help you in these arenas.
1) Surround yourself with trusted colleagues and cross promote
Women attorneys should pull together their network of professionals as they build their business. This team can include colleagues, clients, professional allies and rainmakers in other professions. If your potential referring lawyer or client needs a lawyer in another area of practice, you should be able to provide the name of a trusted colleague in your network. Not only will that potential referring attorney be reminded that you put them in touch with the family lawyer who won custody of their kids, but also, your colleague will return the favor. Leverage the wisdom and advice of your network based on their experience and success.
Additionally, the roles of those in your network include support, fellowship, skill development, and cross promotion. By teaming up with colleagues, women can reduce the time commitment they face in marketing, combine their collective networks and blend talents/interests.
2) Actively listen to your clients and be nice
Marketing and selling are not based on telling people how great you are. People hire lawyers with whom they feel comfortable and someone they feel they can trust. Put the entire focus on the client, their harm, the solution you offer and results they can achieve. Ask your clients and prospective clients what problems they are facing, listen to what they have to say, and communicate with them how you can help. Clients want you to bring them ideas and be proactive in letting them know how you can serve their needs.
Women have the advantage here as we tend to be better listeners and good communicators. The best women rainmakers are the best client diagnosticians, listeners and relationship stewards. Moreover, current clients are your best sales representatives. Feeling heard builds a bond between people that will not be forgotten, and satisfied clients are more than willing to share.
3) Pick the right niche and focus your business development on serving these clients
Focus. Specialize. You cannot be all things to all clients. Establish what makes you different and where you excel. Market and sell to clients whom you believe will benefit from those services. Don't waste time marketing that isn't focused on landing your ideal clients.
Skip the general networking events with few potential clients or bar events with only other attorneys attending. Attend events directed at your niche market. Research which associations, trade, industry, or civic groups your ideal clients attend. For example, if you believe you can relate to and sell to other female executives, join female executive networking organizations. And if you are targeting women who are looking to start their own business, gather into your network colleagues with corporate and tax and estate planning expertise who can also assist these women as they venture out on their own.
4) See the marketing and selling possibilities in EVERYTHING you are doing already
No one needs to tell a hard working female attorney that they face acute pressures in balancing work and rest of life demands. See and seize the marketing possibilities in participating in organizations and even social activities. Find a comfortable way to let people know what you do and the clients you serve.
Give up those activities that may be utilizing too much of your time without a return on your investment. For example, you may have to forego involvement with a charitable organization to serve on the board of your local Chamber of Commerce. As we strive to find a work-life balance, we need to prioritize our time.
5) Create a social media strategy and get found online
Creating a social media and online marketing plan is key in the current digital market. Today, 78% of executive-level buyers go online to search for outside legal professionals, and 67% of C-level decision-makers use the Internet as their primary source of business information. As a result, help with search engine optimization is worth paying for and establishing good online marketing habits is key.
Begin by setting Google Alerts for your name, firm name and topics relevant to your practice. This will aid you staying abreast on what is being said about you online. Write blog posts or well-researched articles that can be published online and shared across social media channels. Connect online with lawyers that you network with or meet at conferences and grab lunch with those individuals. Strive to speak annually to an audience on a topic where you're an expert. After your speech, publish the slides or video recording of your presentation online.
Measuring the effectiveness of your social media networking efforts, can be somewhat akin to measuring the effectiveness of you networking at a cocktail party. Are people interested in what you have to say – are they re-sharing your articles, tweets, and updates? Are people engaging you in conversation – are they contacting you after reading something you published? If you are not getting the desired feedback, it may be time to change course. You may not be publishing engaging content, or you could be targeting the wrong audience.
Also, joining lawyer network websites is an online option that can be utilized to help lawyers build their client base and their online brand. Avvo offers a search engine optimized profile that can be built at no cost to the user. Findlaw from Thomson Reuters, offers a variety of services to lawyers, as well as offering potential clients a way to search for attorneys. Lawdingo is a site that allows consumers to browse its network of lawyers or ask questions. LawZam is a relatively new site and was the first to offer videoconferencing for initial consultations. These are only a few of the websites available to connect attorneys and potential clients. It is worth investigating which of these is right for you.
Above all, ASK FOR BUSINESS!