Business development is important for an attorney’s career whether they are working in a firm or starting a solo practice. The main goal for business development strategies is to bring in legal work and build a book of business. In the best-case scenario that book will portable should you choose to move firms or are bringing solo work to a new firm relationship. The main key to building your book is developing and maintaining relationships. The more you interact with people, the more they will know and remember you; and will become more likely to keep coming back to you as well.
If you don’t know where to begin, start by making a marketing plan. Take a few of the examples listed below and set goals. Get things on your calendar! If possible, meet with your marketing department to get their input and help. Legal marketing departments are specialists in finding and bringing in legal work; they are experts and know what strategies work best.
1. Asking for Referrals
When seeking referrals, a great place to start is with your friends and family. They know you and trust you, which makes them perfect for word-of-mouth marketing. It can be intimidating to ask for referrals from your clients, but it can be as simple as passing them a few extra business cards and saying “I enjoyed working with you! If you know anyone in need of my services, please give them my information.” You can also offer an incentive for referrals, like a gift card to local business, exclusive services, or a discount on fees. Referrals from clients are especially important to building your book because they have had personal experience with you and can attest to your professionalism and work ethic. Colleagues are another great resource for referrals, and it can work both ways. Having a colleague in a different practice area means you can bother refer clients to each other depending on the type of legal services needed. Building these types of working relationships is a fast track to both building trust with your colleagues and gaining clients.
2. Build your social media presence
Social Media can seem daunting. There is a lot of mixed information regarding the benefits of social media, but one thing is for sure; it is a low-cost option for building relationships and therefore, business. If you are unfamiliar with social media or haven’t used it a professional resource start small. Try setting up a LinkedIn profile and connect with a few colleagues. Make sure you use an appropriate picture and fill out your background. Use social media to make yourself relatable and approachable to other attorneys and to clients. Facebook is another platform that can build a broader audience for your business. Utilize cross-posting options across multiple platforms to cut down on the time it takes post on each different site, and use hashtags to target specific groups of people, and expand your audience. A social media presence can increase visibility for your business and overtime build your client base.
3. Networking Events
Networking is an ambiguous verb used to describe professional socializing, and often leads to new relationships in your career. Networking events do not need to be industry specific. In fact, branching out can help broaden your professional web and result in connections that could be surprisingly beneficial. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is not only a great way to meet attorneys dedicated to their craft, but also provides up to date knowledge about changes in the legal field and state bar requirements. Other places to check for networking opportunities are bar associations, law schools, and the Chamber of Commerce.
4. Public Relations
Public relations are a critical approach to building a book of business. This can include interviews, podcasts, newscasts, seminars, etc. When you incorporate this type of marketing into your business strategy, you add credibility to yourself and your business. Your knowledge and services are publicized by an outside party, allowing you to tap into your interviewer’s audience base, a group with whom they have already cultivated trust and rapport. Other speaking engagements where you have a featured presentation give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and competence. People will see you as an expert in your field and want to work with you. Lastly, interviews in your local Business Review are another great way to connect with professionals in your area and get your name out there to the public.
5. Give back to the Community
Show people that you care. This also a great opportunity to get out into your community and talk to people. Tell them about your work and the services you provide. You can do this by volunteering with local organizations within your community or by sponsoring events. Sponsorship gets your logo and branding out to a wide range of people to see. Community service helps you gain a better understanding of your client base and what affects their everyday lives. Not to mention, it is a great way to build common ground between yourself and potential clients.