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Bar News - June 17, 2011

New Lawyers Committee: Improve Your Marketing: Five Springtime Tips for Building Your Practice


The flowers are blooming and the black flies are biting. Itís spring in New Hampshire, and now is as good a time as any to re-focus on building your practice. Here are five tips on how to do so with minimal pain:

1. Go out to lunch. Clients, among many things we might refer to them as, are ultimately people. That means that in order to generate new business it helps to meet and talk to new people. Right now people are breaking away from their desks and scrambling into the sunlight. The weather is turning. Bars are dusting off their patios and putting out the lawn furniture. Restaurants are updating their menus. Take advantage of the good weather and invite somebody out to lunch. I will tell you a secret: everybody likes to be invited to lunch. It makes them feel important. It gives them somewhere to go in the middle of the day. It breaks up the office monotony. And, most importantly for those looking to build their practice, it gets you out from behind your desk talking to people other than your colleagues. People who might actually refer you work or give you work. So, make a promise to yourself that you will go out to lunch four times over the next 30 days.

2. Get to know your neighbors. Winter is long and grim. Everybody hunkers down. Invitations peter out. Events are fewer and farther between. But now that spring has arrived people are out in their yards again cleaning up from the winter and getting ready for summer. It is a great opportunity to walk up to your neighbors, introduce yourself, and let them know who you are. We all live somewhere, and it is likely that the people who live nearby have issues that would benefit from the help of an attorney. Many of them may not know any attorneys, so the person to help them could be you. By approaching neighbors while they are working in their yards on a sunny day you are getting them when they are more likely to be open to meeting new people and tackling their problems. (A man who is cleaning out his garage may be more open to cleaning up his estate plan.) The worst thing that can happen is that you will get to know some of your neighbors, which you may find turns out to be even better than bringing in a new client.

3. Host a barbeque. Why walk across the street to meet your neighbors when you can have them come to you. Hosting a barbeque is one of the easiest ways to meet new people and have fun doing it. A barbeque is like a dinner party with less hassle and minus the pretense. All you need are a few burger patties, some cold drinks, and hot coals. Cleanup is minimal because there are no pots and pans to wash afterwards and guests were in your backyard instead of your living room. You can even use disposable plates and cups. And it is easy to come up with a reason to host a barbeque. New to the neighborhood? Have a housewarming barbeque. The NHL and NBA playoffs are going on and both New England teams are still playing. Pick a game and invite people over. Everybody needs an excuse to get out of the house. Give them one and theyíll show up.

4. Do something outside.  Join a running club. Learn to play golf. Start hiking with a group. With the changing seasons comes new enthusiasm and people are willing to try new things. If you are one of them, you may meet some new friends and maybe some new clients as well. The best part about trying to market by doing something outside is that even if it completely fails you still have spent the day outside, which is likely to be better than whatever you would have done inside that day.

5. Re-connect.  If you are like me, there is a list of people you have been meaning to get in touch with. They might be friends from other law firms, former colleagues, or people you met at the Midyear Meeting. And at this point, you may have waited so long to contact them that your embarrassment is preventing you from doing so. Springtime is the perfect excuse: "I was cleaning out my desk and I found your card. I have been meaning to get in touch, but I was holed up this winter. I thought you might want to grab a beer after work now at that place with a good patio." Use the springtime reprieve as motivation to catch up with all of your "meant-to calls" and invite them to do something that you couldnít have done in February.

You may have noticed that my five tips never mentioned anything about the law, and I have only talked about things you are probably going to do in the next month anyway. Thatís sort of the point. Meeting clients does not have to be painful because clients are simply people with problems they need help with, which makes them no different from most of the people you know already. There is no reason you canít do the same things with potential clients that you would do with your friends. The trick is getting out there and doing it.

Ned Sackman

Ned (Edward J.) Sackman is with Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson in Manchester. He joined the NH Bar in 2009.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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