Business people are networkers, attorneys, well, they are rainmakers. I suppose we as legal professionals have to make everything we do appear distinct. When it comes down to it, the process of networking for more clients and rainmaking look much like the same; and of course, there are approaches that are designed specifically for attorneys.
Whether we are reluctant to admit it or are proud to, we are also in sales, selling ourselves and our services. The 'Close' is part of the job or else no retainer will be coming in any time soon. Yet, there is a nuance to networking as an attorney that I am finding sets us apart, or at least distinguishes credentialed professionals; marketing expertise is its own game that often aims at dispelling anything actually being sold.
I am always looking for new ideas and approaches beyond branding and advertising. The best business I have received from my efforts, and therefore the best approach I am perpetually looking to master in my rainmaking, is building referrals, either from clients or from what some refer to as centers of influence - power partners. As such, relationship-building as for business and legal professionals is a key activity of each day, not to mention this needs to be coupled by good activity and a good attitude always.
So as to be useful in this post, I stumbled on a great idea for those who do estate planning. The basic concept is applied to Wills. As you know, at least in most states, two witnesses are needed to sign and attest to the document. Most often, the attorney and one of his assistants are the witnesses for the sake of convenience. Instead of signing at the office, one leads gathering strategy is to sign the Will at the client's house and invite two of his or her friends or neighbors to be the witnesses. At the signing you have then captured these two individuals' names, addresses, and phone numbers. Ultimately, this could provide all that is needed to gain the intro from your client to a prospective client or clients by itself without any further steps simply because the friends or neighbors may end up asking about getting their Will or other planning documents.
The approach, as you may be wondering, comes from http://www.premiumpractice.com/
the author suggests giving these witnesses a "free will." I have to disagree. For one, a Will was just done for a client at whatever the charge paid, and if the client discovered their friend or neighbor got one for free you may have just alienated a "paying patron" who may give more referrals to you in any event. Also, giving any legal services for free in my estimation can devalue the lawyer's practice and time, thus creating undesirable expectations for more and more free work down the road. However, I think this approach will work more effectively by sending a letter to the witnesses and offering an estate planning consultation for a substantially low premium as well as a Will or other planning document at half the rate. After doing the "bargain" analysis, they may then take the offer for the Will and could end up taking their savings on the deal for other planning documents.
A lawyer's time and expertise is the "commodity" he or she has to sell without much more other than experience and expertise. Repeating the above process may lead to a large volume of new clients, and my approach could be inferior or may not work as well for some. Perhaps trying both and doing some experimentation will test the strategy. I look forward to any attorneys' comments who have used this approach to find out how well it worked for them. Rainmaking is not easy, but it can be simple and effective. Good luck in all of yours!
--Frank A. Cseke