Repost: Staying ahead of the game, growing a legal practice efficiently and ethically in 2019

Written By: Brad Rosen, J.D.

Originally Posted Here:

Chicago-based attorney marketing coach, Steve Fretzin, recently presented a workshop focusing on key business development principles, networking skills, and social media trends for the year ahead.

In the wake of the severe economic downturn in 2008, business coach Steve Fretzin’ s started receiving many phone calls from attorneys seeking to preserve or jumpstart their practices. Up until that time, Fretzin had worked primarily with entrepreneurs or sales personnel looking to grow their revenues. Out of the financial crisis, Fretzin saw an opportunity, and turned his full attention to helping attorneys dramatically grow their practices and rationalize their business development efforts. In the decade since, he hasn’t looked back.

Fretzin, along with Barry Zlotowicz, his company’s director of marketing, recently led an information-packed workshop in Northbrook, Illinois, titled, “You Inc.” Five Simple Steps To Growing Your Law Practice Quickly & Ethically. In his opening remarks, Fretzin observed that lawyers are typically a “clean white board” when it comes marketing and business development knowledge. “As such, it is quite rewarding working with attorneys and seeing these skills blossom,” Fretzin remarked.

Fretzin’ s one-on-one training centers around discipline and accountability and often seeks to grow an attorney’s book of business by two or threefold within a couple of years’ time. Fretzin is also quick to share some of the business development principles and insights for attorneys he has developed over the years, some of which were explored in the workshop and are noted below.

Differentiating your practice—finding the blue ocean. One key business principle is to differentiate yourself from the competition. Fretzin raised a number of questions a lawyer should consider in this regard:

  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What do your clients say about you?
  • What is no one else saying in the marketplace?

Fretzin alluded to an old sales adage on this theme: The sea is red bloody red with competition; you must go to where the blue ocean is.

Avoid spinning your wheels—identify the prospective clients and key contacts.According to Fretzin, it is important to carefully consider and identify the people within various industries and organizations with whom you would like to meet for the purpose of doing business or obtaining referrals. He puts these individuals within three categories and offers some insights:

  • Direct prospects. This includes CEOs, GCs, CFOs, and business owners. While these are more challenging to meet, you may know some already. If the best contacts you have aren’t a fit for you, they may know others at the same level and may be happy to introduce you to them.
  • Strategic partners. These are the people who know the prospects you are looking to meet. Instead of focusing all your energy on meeting Mrs. Big, try getting quality introductions into new strategic partners through another trusted advisor, industry expert, or consultant who owns the relationship.
  • Centers of influence. These are similar to strategic partners, except they have a wider range of high-level connections. This may be a politician, a CEO, or a wealth manager. Just having one or two of these folks in your corner can make all the difference.

Smart and efficient networking —qualifying the people you meet through TLEND.Fretzin noted that in the world of networking three general archetypes exist. First there is the true giver, someone who is generous and helpful. Second, the true taker, someone that is self-centered and cares little to really help others; to be avoided. Finally, there is the apparent giver, a person who wants to be a helpful networker but might lack the capacity and skill to do so. To optimize networking efforts, it is paramount to qualify the people you meet. Toward this end, Fretzin has developed a helpful acronym, TLEND:

  • Trust — you must trust your prospective networking counterpart;
  • Like — you must like him;
  • Expertise — your networking counterpart must be knowledgeable in his given field;
  • Network — your networking counterpart must be an adept networker in his or her own right; and
  • Decision Maker — it is help if your networking counterpart has the power to make decisions.

Fretzin recognizes not every potential networking counterpart will possess all of these attributes. However, he views the first three qualities as mandatory.

A look at the current social media landscape for lawyers. Director of Marketing Barry Zlotowicz noted that most of the platforms have been around for some time now and one must look at the return on investment to determine whether incorporating a particular platform is worthwhile. In his estimation, Facebook, while potentially helpful for targeting clients in some areas of law, is generally not useful for attorney business development purposes.

Meanwhile, he views Twitter as a useful tool to expose your brand to world and in getting your message out. He noted, however, it’s how you use the platform that matters, “Being on Twitter, without posting, following, and liking is not going to get you anywhere from a business development perspective.”

Linked-In, on the other hand, has terrific potential for lawyers according to Fretzin. “This is your second website and Linked-In is of critical importance because it acts as your online resume.” In Fretzin’ s view Linked-In’s value derives from how much you use it, and added that having a complete and accurate profile will help lawyers develop new relationships and clients. Fretzin also observed that from his own perspective, Linked-In has played an important role in extending his reach and establishing relationships with lawyers throughout the United Sates.