Use LinkedIn’s Relationships Tool to Builder Relationships

Peggy Gruenke | February 2015 | Law Practice Management for Solos

How to Use LinkedIn to Build Relationships and Track Prospects

Have you ever wondered how many of your connections are clients, referral sources, or potential clients?

Or

  • Do you forget to send follow up emails to some of your prospects and referral sources?
  • Perhaps you regularly lose the notes that you have collected on your prospects?
  • Have you ever wished you remembered how you met a particular prospect and who introduced you?

If any of these situations are true for you, then you would find great value from LinkedIn’s built in organizational tool, the Relationship Tab, available to both free and paid members. Even if you are just getting started with LinkedIn, these are great tools to know how to use. And the larger your network grows, the more valuable you will find this feature to help you keep organized and stay on top of your networking and lead generation efforts.

This feature also allows you to save and record information on contacts in your network that you are not yet connected to (2nd, 3rd, and group connections). The benefit of this is that you can create a list of potential prospects that you would like to connect with, record information that you want to keep handy about them, and then track your efforts to connect with them.

BTW, you don’t need to worry about the information that you keep in this feature: it is all private, so no one else will see what you’ve written.

So let’s get started.

  • Just below a member’s image and headline is the Relationship and Contact Info box.
  • The Contact Info tab is a quick look at that person’s email and other social profiles they’ve shared.
  • The Relationship tab is where you’ll find the real functionality. You can see a timeline of your association (including the date you connected), as well as conversations you’ve had on LinkedIn or Gmail (if you have set up this sync feature.) You can also add notes, set a reminder to follow up, record how you met and assign a tag to the person.
  • If you are connected to the person, you will see the date that you Connected to them. If you are not connected yet, it will show the date you Saved as contact.

Continue reading

Back to Basics: 20 Tips to empower your practice

Back to basicsBy Peggy Gruenke and Alan Klevan

There is so much talk about technology in law firms, Alan and I  thought we’d take a step back and focus on some basics skills to improve your practice. Your turbocharged office should NOT be solely turbocharged with technology. So here you go.

Write a simple business plan – for you, not the bank or a potential business partner.

The goal is for you as a business owner to see the big picture and understand exactly who you are, why you’re unique, and who you are equipped to serve. Creating it will help you answer questions like “Do I have a profitable business?” or “Am I making money?” or “Am I spending too much?” or “How can I get more clients?”

Build a budget.

Without a budget you are flying blind. Create some basic financial spreadsheets that help you keep an eye on where you are spending money and how much money is coming in. If clients are paying but bank account remains low, it may be a sign to look more closely at your monthly expenses and cash flow. (Link to my article Mid Year Financial Checkup) Don’t get bogged down in details. It is paralyzing. Starting today, add a column for current month and start entering your expenses and money received. This document will evolve over the months, but at least you now have a place to keep an eye on your business.

Know how much money you need to make each month in order to keep the doors open.

You should know this number by heart. If you don’t know this number, go back to #2 and build your budget. It should be written down where you can see it every day. Put it on your wall or on your computer screen. Put a picture of your family or next vacation spot next to it. Then, everyday write down how much money came in and keep a running total so you can see how close you are to reaching your monthly “need to collect” number. This number is your “monthly nut.” Any amount over that number is your money to take home. Continue reading

Holiday season and networking opportunities

Nov 24, 2014 | Peggy Gruenke | Law Practice Management Adviser

A fresh look at the upcoming holiday season: You never know where your next client will come from.

During the upcoming holiday season, you may not enjoy going to that holiday party in the neighborhood or to the family get-together. You may even dread it. But in actuality, this is perfect time to get ahead. November and December are a slow time of year for doing business. But they are a great time of the year to do some business development.

With all the holiday parties, events, and family visits, the holiday season provides some of the best networking opportunities of the entire year. So make sure you have a stack of business cards on hand. You may even want to make sure you have a logoed sweater or polo shirt to wear while attending some of these events. If you approach this time of year with the right mindset and accept the fact that business will be slow, all these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections to start the New Year off on the right foot.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for these opportunities.

  • Remove the word “networking” from your vocabulary. Think of these events and parties as relationship-building opportunities. You never know where your next client will come from, so be sure everyone you meet knows what you do. And don’t introduce yourself with the first words out of your mouth being “I am a lawyer . . .” Most people have preconceived notions about lawyers that may be less than favorable. So avoid any negative reactions and find a new way to introduce yourself. Such as “I help people recover losses related to a recent injury.” Or, “My business helps small business owners get started.”
  • Make it about others. Listen more than you talk and, as you listen, find clues to remember what you discussed and the person’s name. People generally like talking about themselves, their job, and family. By listening, maybe you will be able to introduce people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them, and they like to know someone who is connected. Be content listening and soak it all in.
  • Talk about something other than business. In building relationships, which is what networking is all about, you want to get to know people on a personal level, as well as a professional level. Take advantage of the holidays to relax and socialize and get to know people a little better. Think of a few questions you can ask to get the conversation going:
    • “Who else do you know at this event?”
    • “How do you know the host/hostess?”
    • “What has been the highlight of your year?”
    • “What plans do you have for next year?”
    • “What kind of business are you in?”
    • “What kinds of clients are you looking for these days?”
    • (Be prepared to answer these questions as well!)
  • Follow-up with people you met who you think could be potential referral sources or a potential client. Connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a note card asking for an opportunity to meet after the holidays.

Lastly, while you are sitting around over the long weekends, not attending any holiday events, use this downtime to cleanup your contact database, learn more about how to use LinkedIn for a business development tool, or think about what tool you are going to add to your marketing efforts in 2015.

Peggy Gruenke is owner of LegalBizSuccess, a company whose mission is to help solo and small-firm lawyers build better businesses. Peggy is active in the ABA GPSolo Division, where she heads the technology committee and is vice-chair of the national conference committee. Follow her on Twitter @PeggyGruenke.

Lawyers, do you have a game plan for your business?

Nicole at NAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a daughter that for the last 16 years has been in the equestrian world of show jumping. My husband and I have great respect for her ability to enter the show ring always having a plan for how she will ride the course. In show jumping, your goal is to complete the designed course, which consists of a number of jumps or obstacles, in the fastest time, staying on course and without knocking down any rails. It requires a clear vision, a plan, and a strategy with the ability to execute and adjust when things go awry and still complete the course. Before she goes into the ring to compete, she has evaluated the competition, the course and the best path to ride. Simply put: she and her horse have a game plan.

So how well are you doing with your plan to grow and manage your law practice?

Whether a solo, an associate or a partner within a firm, you have to always have that mindset of being a business owner. A partner today may be a solo tomorrow. To grow your business, you have to focus on how to get business, deliver services, get paid and make money. This focus leads to developing clarity around what you do and how you ride the course.

While most lawyers want to have more business and grow, it is amazing how many I talk to that have not taken the time to develop even a simple business plan. As a result, the business is without a focused direction or clear strategy. And businesses without clarity about what they do, will not be as successful as a business with a game plan. Just like a rider going into the show ring without a vision and strategy will most likely fail at completing the course.

So, much like our daughter preparing for the show ring, the answer to questions like “How can I get more clients?” or “How can I find better clients?” or “Am I profitable?” begin with having a game plan. In the business world, these components are cleverly disguised as a business plan. Do you have one? A great business plan is not some pie-in-the-sky document full of impressive prose. A business plan can be as simple as a one-page document outlining the actions you will take to be successful. The key is does it provide clarity and serve as a guide for future actions and decisions.

You see, the trouble with most business plans and the reason people don’t want to create one is they are often written for someone else – a banker, an investor, or a potential partner. Instead, I say write it for yourself. It’s your chance to think through the challenges you are facing and commit to a plan of action. Form doesn’t matter.

This short article is not here to tell you how to write a business plan, but instead, to get you thinking about how clear or unclear your own business strategy may be. Maybe the end result will be that you decide to develop a game plan to help guide your business on a course for growth.

Whether just starting out or if you have been practicing for a few years, why write down your game plan? Continue reading

Are you going to be left behind?

Lawyers, Why Do You Need a Online Presence?

Because you don’t want to be left behind. People no longer reach for the Yellow Pages when they need a lawyer. They rely on friends and the internet. And if they use a friend, they then search the internet to look you up. So if you don’t have an online presence, you are probably leaving money on the table.

Social media or social networking should be a part of every lawyer’s marketing and business development plan. When a lawyer sits down to talk to me about his practice and how to get more clients, the discussion always includes a social media plan with the end goal being to leverage his/her online presence to build more relationships with referral sources and potential clients that then convert into new business.  It’s an even playing field no matter your age, type of practice, location or size of firm. If you have not started building your r online network, it’s not too late to start.

A well designed business development plan should include a social media component that moves you from hanging out on the sidelines to actually playing in the game. The sidelines are a great place to observe and plan for how you are going to participate and interact on social media but eventually you have to join the game. You have to determine what your level of participation will be, what platforms you will use and how you will interact with your new online community. The great thing about this game is that you are in control of your own success, limited only by your own schedule, effort and time. It’s quite powerful and the fun part is seeing your online connections become in-person connections.

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenkeLinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com.  (513) 315-5750

If You’re Going to be on LinkedIn, First Impressions Matter

curb-appeal-splashJuly 2013

I  frequently get asked by attorneys and other professionals about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile. I have finally come up with a simple and concise way to explain the need for creating a robust LinkedIn profile. Here it is:

Samll LinkedIn_logo_1

If you have a LinkedIn profile, think of it as a first impression or your curb appeal. When potential clients look for you, what do they find? Having an empty or crappy LinkedIn profile is worse than having none at all.

Check your online presence. Google It. Search for yourself online. What comes up first? Chances are your LinkedIn profile or Avvo profile are listed at the top. Is it what you expected? Is it what you’d like to people to see about you? What would a person who didn’t know you think?

If you are ready to start using LinkedIn as the business development tool it is so well designed for but need help creating your profile and your firm profile, please give me a call. It is something I enjoy doing and enjoy teaching. By the way, be sure to check that Avvo profile while you  are at it. Think you don’t have one – look again.

There is also the ethical responsibility part of being online. If your going to be online, you are responsible for making sure the content adheres to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  Here is a link to my recent seminar that discusses some of the ethical pitfalls of being online and how to avoid them. “Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social“

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LawBizCOO/LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development for solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenke,LinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com. pgruenke@lawbizsuccess.com

One Way to Differentiate Yourself: Create a New Client Packet

Wordle: Welcome
You’ve heard and read many times about the importance of communication and managing client expectations to ensure a successful and profitable engagement. The legal business is essentially relationship based and no relationship survives, let alone thrives, without good communication. The clients may care more about the communication/relationship than your ability or the quality of your work product. So if at that initial client meeting, you can put yourself in their shoes and see the experience through your client’s eyes and anticipate their needs and questions, you are one step ahead of your competitors.

A well designed new client packet can create a client experience that will be memorable, differentiate you from other attorneys in town and build the foundation for a successful and profitable engagement.   A New Client Welcome Package assures your new client is properly welcomed into your practice. In this article, I want to layout items that should be part of a new client welcome packet.

First impressions matter. So invest in getting nice quality folders designed.  On the cover, include your logo, address, website, and phone number. List practice areas on the back of the folder. A welcome package in a folder also provides a place for clients to keep important documents or information throughout the engagement.

Include the following items in your welcome packetContinue reading

Thinking About Blogging – Just do it and here is some advice from successful bloggers

I started blogging about 6 months ago and have tried to maintain a consistent schedule with meaningful topics.  What I have learned is that it takes passion, time, commitment and a bit of creative thinking to come up with relevant topics.  I also witnessed the power of blogging for building your community. It does work. Blogging is habit forming and as with any habit, they are easy to break once you get out of the cycle. So I am guilty of breaking my blogging habit and need to get back on track.

So for today’s post, I am going to share with you a great article by Ernie Svenson who wrote the book Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers. Ernie has been running a great series called “Five Questions for a Law Blogger“.  He asks some successful bloggers five questions. Read here and get your blogging mojo started or back on track: Fascinating Insight From Successful Bloggers.

Enjoy!

Peggy Gruenke On Twitter @peggygruenke On LinkedIn  and my Blog LawBizCOO

More WOW Tips for Retaining Clients

 

 

In a previous post, I talked about marketing as two different processes: Retaining Clients and Attracting New Clients. For this article, I am going to keep the focus on retention. Why? Because a satisfied and loyal client is likely to give you more of their business and bring new clients through referrals to friends, neighbors and colleagues. Which leads us back to the thought that more future value may be gained by retaining an existing client than by attracting a new client.

 

Any savvy attorney recognizes the need to develop creative ways to be memorable leading to repeat business and referrals. A successful, profitable engagement incorporates great client service throughout representation. At the end of your engagement, how can you create WOW moments that will leave your client spreading great news about you and your firm? Here are a few more tips on how you can turn your clients into raving fans.

 

The final invoice. How the heck can you make this usually painful experience a memorable one? If you have been successfully communicating with your client and building a relationship, you may now know if they are involved in any non-profits or have a passion supporting a local organization. Here’s a WOW tip: take the professional discount you were going to apply to the final invoice and convert it into a donation to their organization. Make sure this gesture does not go unnoticed by including a cover letter thanking the client and explaining your donation. You can also split the discount – half as a discount and half as the donation. I think you’ll agree that this is pretty memorable and something to talk about.

 

The second WOW idea is centered on delivering those final documents to your client now that the engagement is over. There are always final documents that need to be picked up or original documents that you collected during the engagement that need to be returned.  Use this opportunity to touch base one more time and make it a WOW moment. Instead of having the client pick up the documents, have your law firm administrator deliver the documents to the client’s office or home or better yet, deliver them yourself. Now this alone is nice, but let’s makes one simple change to make it a memorable experience. Include a platter of cookies, maybe even logo cookies. With the cookies, include a branded postcard that thanks the client for using your services and lists additional legal services provided by your firm. Leave a stack of your newly branded business cards (with your QR code) for employees of the company to pick up.

I’d be curious to know if any one tries one of these ideas and the reaction you get from your client.

Peggy Gruenke, Chief Operating Officer and Business Development, pgruenke@lawbizcoo.com More articles available on my blog LawBizCOO.

If You Give a Client a Cookie, They May Come Back for More

 

In a recent conversation with one of the attorneys about a very needy client,  I was  reminded of the children’s book called If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. It’s the one where the mouse asks for a cookie, then milk, then a dozen other things which keeps the boy busy all day long taking care of the needs of the mouse. In the book, through a series of cause and effect, the boy listens to the needy mouse and acts upon the requests. In the end, the mouse ends up asking for another cookie and the cycle begins again.

 

As an attorney you have the opportunity to make a client’s engagement memorable, where he may come back for more work, or feeling frustrated and dissatisfied. You invest a lot of time and energy interacting with your clients. Any client is your bank for future work – as a referral source or for cross selling. Clients care as much about communication as they do about ability or the quality of the work product. So demonstrating good active listening skills, and being consistently responsive to clients is essential for client retention. You want to give them a reason to ask for another cookie.

 

Here’s an idea you can easily implement: Get a batch of logo cookies made at a local bakery. Keep them in the freezer, and at your new client meetings, include a wrapped cookie with you new client packet. Let them know you’ll be there to take care of their needs and at the end, you hope they come back for their future legal needs. I am sure you will make a memorable impression on them – enough so that they will tell a few friends.

Please feel free to connect with me on Twitter, Linked In, Facebook

Peggy Gruenke, Chief Operating Officer and Business Development, pgruenke@lawbizcoo.com

More articles available on my blog LawBizCOO.