Legal Business Development: Are You Running a “Feast or Famine” Practice?

by Paula Black
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Are you running a “feast or famine” practice? If you are overwhelmed with work and have no time to develop business… then when you’re finished with the work at hand there is nothing on the horizon… THAT my friend is a feast or famine practice. And to tell you the truth, I see this with lawyers more often than not. Whether or not you are a solo or work for a huge global firm, not making time for business development has serious consequences.

Forbes Magazine contributor, Kern Lewis documented one small step you can take to create some stability for your practice. His case study is about how he convinced his “old friend and new convert to social media marketing, a lawyer in Northern California named Mark D. Poniatowski who runs a small practice with just a handful of partners.”

Poniatowski was in the midst of a famine…

With the advent of his latest “break” from a heavy work load, he agreed to dedicate the time to test a plan he felt he could manage within the demands of his day:

He chose one online networking tool to test, which was LinkedIn. He spent one hour cleaning up his profile. He spent about three hours reaching out to all the people he knew professionally, and connecting to those whom he found on LinkedIn. He set a thirty-minute appointment for a late weekday evening each week to work on building up his network of contacts, and engaging that network via pings and content sharing.

Results came within a couple of weeks: Many connection invitations came right back with social conversations, and were happy to reconnect. A handful had business that they could place with him right away and were “glad he reached out.”

Within those few weeks he had referrals worth $12,000 in billable hours that he would not have had without his 3-5 hour LinkedIn campaign. That represents a 8-10x ROI on the time he dedicated to it.

The pace has calmed since he harvested that low-hanging fruit, but he reaped one other big benefit:

Connecting with distant clients – An international manufacturer and a national food distributor both use Mark for their commercial lease work in California. He can only justify one trip a year to each of their Midwestern headquarters. But, using LinkedIn to follow the people who manage his part of their legal affairs has made the trips much more powerful.

He keeps track of position changes that impact him. He can research key people ahead of each trip. He set up introductions using his current network, and reaches out to the new connections prior to the trip to kick-start the new relationship and make the in-person meetings much more useful.

Here is how Mark sums up his experience: ‘I immediately recognized that I was able to connect with attorneys and clients that I worked with over the years and had lost touch with, so it was actually a fun exercise. Some of them were good friends as well and we’ve since gone to lunch. I think that the business generation aspect has been a natural fallout of reconnecting and will increase. I did find that the best LinkedIn for me is during the commercials while watching sports!’

It takes commitment and focus to create results. I think this was a brilliant move for this small firm. Now imagine if all 5 of his colleagues did the same. Would he multiply his results by 5? Maybe or maybe not, but certainly they could expect 3-4 times the result.

I believe every professional should have a well thought through LinkedIn profile. What condition is yours in? Could you implement a strategy  like Poniatowski’s? Certainly you could… and if you are sick and tired of running a feast or famine practice, this could help you break the cycle.

 

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Paula Black
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