What am I doing Wrong?

I do all these things, but it doesn’t result in new clients.  What am I doing wrong? 

I met with a referring attorney recently about how to generate business.  She was a few years out of law school, had a good stream of clients from a variety of sources over many different practice areas.   She felt like she wasn’t getting anywhere with her practice and asked for my thoughts.  Over the course of several beers, here’s what I suggested.

First, I asked her what she liked to do?  What practice area do you enjoy doing the most?  It is important to specialize in a particular area of law.  If you advertise yourself over many different practice areas, potential clients will assume you are not a specialist.  I don’t think lawyers who advertise on billboards, “Personal Injury and Criminal Law” are effective.  While it may seem logical to lawyers that both entail trial practice, to the lay person, they are completely unrelated.  Decide what kind of law you want to practice and focus your energies on developing that area.

Next, I asked what things she had done to develop business.  She ran down a list of things, all of which involved what I call “dabbling.”  She wrote a few blog articles, she gave a few speeches, she joined a few organizations and participated in a few networking groups.  Not surprisingly, none were particularly effective.  I explained, unless you are going to see a tangible result from your time and/or money, it is a waste of time.  Pick one or two things and really pursue those avenues.  Trying many different things half halfheartedly will not produce results.

For example, merely joining a bar association is not going to result in referrals.  You must be active in the bar association, going to meetings, networking with other members, etc..  Same thing goes for networking groups.  You can’t expect to join and watch the clients come rolling through your door.  It takes work to nurture referring relationships.  You can’t spend the time it takes if you are running around to four meetings a week for different groups and blogging. 

The same rationale applies to internet marketing.  Posting a few blog posts will not increase web site traffic.  It takes at least six months of constant posting to register with Google and other search engines.  Facebook?  Twitter?  Same thing; unless you are very active in building and maintaining your social network, it will be a waste of time.  My advice with regards to social networking is, if you do it in your personal life, you can be effective in your professional capacity as well.  But, if you don’t use a social network, don’t try to fake it.  Once again, it will be a waste of time.  Focus your energies on the places which will produce tangible results. 

When it comes to marketing and getting business, spend some time and make a plan.  Where do you get most of your cases?  Where could you meet people who will be in the position to send you clients?  Who is your ideal client?  Until you answer these questions, you will continue to waste your time.  Then, what concrete steps can you take to reach these people and devote all your marketing time and money toward these targets.  When you have an established practice, then you can think about expanding your reach, but for now, be laser focused on who, when and where will result in the best return on your time and money.

Hopefully I provided some direction for this new attorney with regards to generating business and hopefully it stimulates you to think about your own efforts at generating new clients.