Marketing and networking are big, nebulous items that are foreign to many people—hence the amazing number of books on networking available. And although there is plenty of networking help for attorneys out there, sometimes it is just too big to figure out where to start. I have found that by compiling data related to marketing and networking, I am able to narrow them and focus my energy and resources on only those types of marketing and networking that produce the best, most consistent results.
One of the most important exercises so far has been determining where all my clients come from. Since I had not been tracking this continuously, I needed to go back and figure out where each client came from, which I am going to do on an ongoing basis going forward.
The purpose for this is to determine the best place to focus my time and resources in terms of marketing and networking. Initially, I was networking with other attorneys here and there, friends, family, friends of friends, random businesspeople in the community, and others. I started to narrow that down a bit over time, but generally this was an unstructured exercise for me; most of what I had heard about networking was that you just have to go out and meet people. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world, and not all of them will get you to where you want to go.
After looking over all my client sources, I found that about half of my business came from other attorneys, and the group that was in a close second was friends/friends of friends. There is only so much a person can do to market to friends, because those relationships are already established and they already know what you do. It never hurts to keep them updated, but that doesn’t require business meetings and lunches.
Other attorneys, on the other hand, are not only a good source of business for me, but also have plenty to share with me in terms of strategies for practicing and substantive law information.
Consequently, I have significantly narrowed my pool of potential contacts, but because I have data from last year supporting this choice, I know it will yield positive results.
Not every area of practice will be served best by knowing and meeting other attorneys, though. Go through your clients for the last year (or two, or three, or twelve), and look at your best source of referrals. Depending on what you do and how you bill, you will need to decide whether the right metric to look at is number of clients or income from clients, but either way, you will be able to quickly develop a plan for who to contact to spur your business growth.
And remember to do this with other sources of clients as well. Perhaps you get a lot of business from web advertising. Even if you are doing well, go look at which ads are serving you the best and get rid of the others.
Focusing your marketing and networking efforts and resources will increase efficiency and make you happier with the process.