It's that holiday time of year...

Within the next week or so, most of you will see your business socializing schedule ramp up and continue through the holiday season. Receptions and holiday parties hosted by your firm, clients and other business contacts. Many of you recognize it as an opportunity to meet and reconnect with lots of new people. Here's how to make it enjoyable and effective.

“Holiday Marketing” vs. Strategic December Business Development

About this time each year, law industry publications are rife with advice about “holiday marketing.” The advice tends to be about gift-giving protocols and using social events to network and create relationships.

However, today’s legal environment requires more substantial analysis and strategy, a “Holiday Marketing 2.0” if you will. Here's how

Innovative thinking about cross-selling

If your firm struggles with cross-selling like most do, here's a new tool that automates introducing cross-selling info as a component of normal emails.

What % of your business comes from other lawyers' referrals, really?

Too many lawyers waste time networking at bar associations and other lawyer-groups. Yeah, I know, you're hoping that, if you form relationships with these other lawyers, they'll refer work to you. Intellectually, that's certainly a possibility. However, over the course of your career to date, what percentage of your business has actually been referred by other lawyers? Unless you're an outlier, it's not enough to justify the time invested.

OMG! The accountants are coming!

CPA firms moving into legal services was cited by 64 percent of law firm respondents as the biggest threat to traditional law firms’ share of the legal services market, according to a study cited in Bloomberg BigLaw Business. Here's how you can neutralize this threat.

Business development formula: Skills, effort, delegation

What does it take to acquire a book of business sufficient to make you financially- and professionally independent, safe from the vagaries of changes in firm policy or compensation decisions? It’s been almost ten years since hoping for the best worked at all. What does today’s tumultuous legal service market require? Here's your answer.

Rain-makers vs. Rain-havers

If you’ve been saying to yourself or your firm for any length of time, “I want to become a rainmaker,” but so far haven’t committed the time, effort, or (gasp!) some of your own money to get there, you’ve probably been using the wrong object noun. A more accurate noun would be rain-haver. Here's how to get yourself on a more solid track.

Genius vs. Ingenuity

When strategizing practice growth, the obstacle that so many lawyers wrestle with is trying to come up with something unique, that nobody else is doing, or has thought of before. That may happen, but it’s rare, and it’s not the way to strategize or plan. Here's a more productive approach.

Leave Your Ego at the (Training) Door

When you participate in business development training, how do you approach it? If you’re early in your career, you probably have few illusions about your current skill level, so you’ll be eager to learn. But what if you’re more senior? What’s your attitude?

“I don’t know. Let me think about it”

All experienced salespeople know that “I'll think about it” is usually either a polite "no" or a sign that Procrastination has ensnared another victim. The irony is that this universal bane is entirely the salesperson’s creation. Here's how to avoid it with a way that makes prospects comfortable and confident.

Eliminate the pain and fear in closing your sale

For as long as there have been sellers, there has been anxiety over closing. Closing is generally defined as the moment when a prospect or client decides to make the purchase -- in the case of lawyers, to engage you for a legal matter. This can be unnerving, especially for inexperienced sellers, as it exposes you to the risk of rejection by the prospect. As a result, it’s become feared as the make-or-break moment of truth in the sale.

Ironically, the “moment of truth” concept is the key to eliminating all the tension around concluding the sale -- for both buyer and seller.

Make sure you can congratulate yourself next week

If you’re in the minority who do plan business development every week, I applaud you. However, I’ll bet that you plan to perform activities rather than achieve outcomes. This is your basic To-Do list. While it’s better than nothing, it suffers from some serious shortcomings that make it hard for you to succeed. Here's what to do instead.

Networking: How to disengage from a dead-end conversation

We’ve all found ourselves trapped in a dead-end conversation at a networking event. Someone drones on about a topic in which you have no interest. Or, it’s simply someone you don’t like. Or, there’s nothing wrong with the topic or the person, but you can’t spend that much time with any one person.

Here's how to escape without being rude.

Networking: Avoid Introduction Faux Pas

faux pas- oops.jpg

The business meet-and-greet scene is fraught with potential pitfalls, even for the most confident among us. Here’s how to reduce the risk of encounters at networking events, receptions, etc.

Have we met before?

Professional social encounters pose a handful of risks that we can group under “Am I supposed to know this person?” It takes a few cringe-worthy forms that I’m sure we can all relate to:

  • I think we’ve met, but we haven’t
  • I don’t think we’ve met, but we have
  • I recognize your face, but I don’t know if we’ve met
  • I know we’ve met, but I can’t remember your name
  • We bumped into each other earlier at this multi-day event, and I can’t remember your name
  • Another person connects you, and explicitly assumes both must know each other. You don’t know if that’s true or not, but it could be.

To avoid all of these, I play it safe by eliminating the specifics. Whenever I approach someone, I scan their name tag while extending my hand and saying my name: “Hi, Denise. Mike O’Horo. Nice to see you.” By not saying “Nice to meet you,” or “nice to see you again,” I eliminate all risks in the met-previously category.

Sometimes, people will respond with, “I remember you, Mike. We met at [event].” To which I reply, “You have a good memory. I’m flattered.” Or they may say, “We met at last night’s cocktail reception.” My reply: “I’m flattered that you remember, but I’ve learned not to assume that, so I always say my name in case you forgot.”

If I’m making the rounds with a colleague, we make a mutual-non-embarrassment pact: “If someone approaches and I don’t know them, I’ll initiate an introduction. If I know them and remember their name, I’ll initiate. If I don’t initiate, that means I should but I can’t because I don’t remember their name. If so, bail me out. Stick your hand out and introduce yourself so I’ll hear them say their name.”

Sometimes, people remember me enthusiastically, and greet me before I can insert my name as above, but they get my name wrong. “Hey, Mark! Great to see you again. It’s been since the last conference, right?” If there are others present, I don’t correct them. It’s not that important, and there will be an opportunity to do so privately another time. Or, if we get into conversation, another person may say my name, or they may notice my name tag (see below) and correct themselves. Either way, everyone will notice that I’ve been gracious.

If this happens when we’re alone, I’ll correct them with a casual, “Actually, it’s ‘Mike,’” and immediately move on in conversation to avoid any awkwardness.

A riskier situation is encountering someone of higher status, whom we’ve met before and wish to cultivate, but because of their station we realize that there’s a pretty good chance that they don’t remember us. In that case, I give them everything they need to at least act like they remember. “Hello, Ms. Johnson. My name is Mike O’Horo. I won’t expect you to remember, but we met briefly a year ago when you spoke at [forum]. I thought you made an important point about [topic].”

This tells them that you did, in fact, meet, and even if they don’t recall it at all, gives them something to work with. “Oh, yes, Mike. That was quite an event, wasn’t it? Lots of interesting perspectives, as I recall.” Then, you can proceed to what you wanted to speak with them about. (You can also use this with a well-known person you didn’t actually meet previously, but want to now, and have a “content anchor” such as the “made an interesting point” example above.)

These have served me well, and have allowed me to appear far more socially adept than I may have felt at those moments.

Name tags

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According to Scientific American, between 70% and 95% of humans are right-handed (I don’t know why the range is so broad), so it’s only natural to pick up your badge with your right hand, which makes your left lapel the easiest place to attach it. However, handshakes are always right-handed, so for the badge to be easily visible to the person you’re meeting, it must be in line of sight as they face you. Make sure to put it on your right lapel.

Many conferences have the name tags on lanyards that go around your neck. The default is that they’re at maximum length when you get them. Unless you’re very tall, this puts your name out of easy view, and raises the odds that contact with your legs while walking will cause it to spin around and not be readable at all. Shorten the lanyard to raise your name tag to the height it would be if affixed to your lapel.

Now that you can avoid all introduction faux pas, relax and make the event work for you.

Mike O'Horo

This is the second in a four-part series on networking. 

Last week: How to introduce yourself

Next week: How to disengage from a dead-end conversation

Unless your firm is an outlier, you probably waste 80% of your business-development training/coaching budget on lawyers who waste it.

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Watch this 30-second video to see how to eliminate waste and bet on the right lawyers.


Networking: How to introduce yourself

What’s the best way to introduce yourself at a networking event? What follows is for business contexts. For social etiquette, I’ll defer to Emily Post (or my late mother, who, while my siblings and I were growing up, we considered one and the same).

Not if, but when, your Fortune 500 client goes out of business

Were you inclined to reject it out of hand as mere headline click-bait? Or, did it make you think about that big client, from whom you get most of your origination credit and your firm gets so many billable hours? Have you ever thought about Fortune 500 companies failing? That’s rare, isn’t it?Not really.

What Malcolm Gladwell got wrong about practice (from the author of the '10,000 hours' study)

By now, even if you haven’t read “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller, you’ve at least heard of what’s commonly referred to as “the 10,000-hour rule.” This conclusion, drawn from research that informs the book, basically says that greatness at anything requires ten thousand hours of practice, feedback, and coaching.It turns out that’s been inaccurately simplified.