After a clerkship in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, I spent time in private practice with a primary focus on asbestos defense cases on behalf of one large client. After a couple of years, I moved to Bowie & Jensen, the law firm in which I have been with for more than six years, representing individuals and businesses with any of their legal needs.
As the years have passed, so has my focus. In addition to the actual practice of law (i.e. trying cases, taking depositions, providing legal advice to clients), I am also required to assist in the marketing of the firm. This includes presenting seminars on legal topics, networking with potential clients, and establishing relationships with those within and outside of the legal community.
For some of us, marketing and self promotion is second nature, but for others, this is not one of our strengths. Many attorneys joke that law schools do a terrible job in preparing its students to practice law.
In some ways, however, it is true.
The practice of law is very different from the business of law. The latter does not deal with elements of a cause of action or a three-prong test used by the court, but with making sure that the lights are on and the clients are happy.
I have been re-reading Never Eat Alone, a book by Keith Ferrazzi, which focuses on methods to develop a network of contacts without being overbearing. Mr. Ferrazzi’s book does a good job of blending common sense with practical advice. Here is a very oversimplified summary of his book: The best way to network is to reach out to people, ask for assistance, offer assistance, and to not keep tabs of either.
Go out and meet people. When you are going to an event, make sure you know who is going and do some research on the people you should meet (but not to the extent that it will be considered stalking). Build personal relationships.
This may sound simple, but how many of us have gone out to a marketing event with work colleagues and have spent the entire time talking to the same work colleagues we share an office with? Personal relationships are one of the keys to building a strong business. The only way to build them is to start a conversation.
If you have any additional marketing advice or tools, post a comment.