Thursday, May 31, 2007

Creating Buzz: A Brief Sidetrip

I ran across a post by Julie Fleming-Brown (a professional and personal coach for lawyers) at her blog, Life at the Bar entitled, "How Can Your Practice Become Known?" Her key points are:
  • Blog,
  • create a unique experience for your clients,
  • be active and visible in the community, and,
  • be clear about what makes you different
Her thoughts behind each bullet are well worth reading. You will find the post here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Creating Buzz Tip #3: Ask Questions

People remember and talk about people they respect. To earn their respect demonstrate yours (respect) for them. In business, people like to acknowledged for their skills and expertise, and they definitely remember the people that have turned to them for advise.

Every day you are faced with choices -- in the process of deciding which choice to make you sometimes need another opinion. Typically you turn to people inside your firm. Why not call one of the ‘buzz leaders’ in your targeted community and ask them? That one call accomplishes two important things:

  • You demonstrate your respect for the person you called and,
  • You will be warmly remembered for acknowledging their acumen
Make enough calls over time and there is a lot of warmth and good will floating around with your name attached. Creating personal buzz does not have to be a giant production that consumes your life -- just a bunch of little steps that demonstrate how you are different and worth knowing.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Creating Buzz Tip #2: Moderate

Whenever possible be the moderator in a panel discussion, not the panelist. The moderator is perceived as:
  • The most connected (most broadly known)
  • The professional with the broadest understanding of the issues
  • A friend to the audience
  • The most approachable
I have gotten the most buzz mileage from moderating panels and I recommend it for building your personal brand.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Creating Buzz Tip #1

Every business community is ‘buzzing’ about something all the time! The "community" may be defined by geography, industry, profession, or cause. What we would like to be able to do is influence the ‘Buzz’ and get people to talk about us. Easy to say – tough to do. Here is the first tip in a series about getting people to talk (positively) about you or your firm.

Buzz Tip #1: Show up and be seen -- "Buzz" needs a starting point.

The old adage; “Out of sight, out of mind” is absolutely true, especially in professional services. Make it your goal to be seen consistently and often within the community of people you’d like to be buzzing about you (or your firm). It is not nearly enough to lend your name to committees, causes, events, etc. Until your audience sees you, in person, constantly, they have no reason to talk about you. And more importantly, they need to feel that you are neck-deep in the things they care about. People like to talk about good things. You need to be a ‘good thing’.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Smartest People are Not the Best Panelists

I attended a conference in Napa the last few days and one comment about the conference came through time and again -- the speakers kept losing their audiences over and over. To the credit of the committee (of attorneys) that organized the panels, they had recruited the most successful attorneys (in particular areas of law) to appear on stage. Yet, the smartest person at doing a thing is not always the best person to teach or talk about it. I am always amazed that when individuals become part of an event committee they forget everything they've muttered when they to were participating from the audience. Anyway -- here's three things that this conference might have done differently:
  • Pick speakers who have been seen on-stage. Can they teach? Can they engage an audience or will the audience get lost or bored? A disinterested audience will leave early and think twice about returning the following year.
  • Look first to the needs of the audience. No matter the conference or event people want to spend time talking, be entertained, and learn something -- in that order!
  • Hire professional event producers. This conference I attended used an excellent event planner, so definitely no problem there. But, an event production company takes on most of what an organizing committee does. A production company not only plans an event, they find the right speakers and emcees, they orchestrate every moment and create highs and lows to suit an audience -- they create an experience!
It is said often that lawyers are (generally) not the right experts to create marketing materials. The same can be said of events. I have often stated that lawyers SHOULD get involved in committees as an excellent business networking tactic. That remains true. But, to be on a committee carries the responsibility of making sound choices for the organization, and their events....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Extending the Value of Your Business Relationship Network

The value in your network of business relationships can be extended far beyond the one-to-one benefits you already enjoy. Your network could be the goldmine that others wish they had, and quite frankly, if you share your wealth (of relationships) it will return tenfold.

Case in point: A few years back I dipped into my Rolodex to help a friend make connections for her new business (a marcomm agency). After reviewing the strengths of her business I was able to make some strategic introductions for her. From those relationships her business has flourished through direct and referral opportunities.

I know most of my readers would say they are already doing that, but there's one more step to really make your generosity pay off.

That last step is letting go. Once you have made the introduction, stay out, completely out, of their budding relationship. If something goes terribly wrong, you'll hear about it from one of them. If it goes wonderfully right, then you'll hear about that too. Instinctively you may want to 'care-take' a relationship you initiated along the line of, "But what about my reputation? How can I protect my reputation if I don't make sure it works out?" Let me answer that with a couple of thoughts.

One, you can't make anyone feel anything. Both people introduced are going to make up their own mind no matter what you do. More importantly, the more you stick your nose into what goes on between them the more YOU WILL be held responsible if it goes wrong. By staying out of the way your reputation can continue to be measured solely on your willingness to help and your personal interactions with each contact. It's OK to let them be responsible for what goes on between them.

Second, if you are concerned your contact will not get along with the person you referred, then shame on you for making the referral in the first place. If you are too insecure not to meddle in the affairs of others then don't make referrals.

Matchmaking is a good thing. Do it as often as you can. Micromanaging is a bad thing. Do it not at all.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What is a "Marketing Catalyst" at a Law Firm

I used to have "Catalyst" as the title listed under my name on business cards. It was always a great conversation starter to anyone that saw it for the first time. "What is a "Catalyst?"", they would ask. Mostly I would respond that, "I make good things happen for people at my firm." More often though I receive emails and questions about "how" to be a catalyst. It's Sunday evening, I have a few minutes, so let me try and answer that question (at least for myself).
  • Everything I see looks too routine -- too normal. If it has been done once by someone else it does not need repeating. There MUST be a different way to accomplish it! Like scaling Mt. Everest -- many wish to reach the top, but is there a route no one else has attempted?
  • People want to be connected to other people. It is a natural state of things. What can I do to make that happen? Whom needs more friends? What two people can I put together to equal a great (business) relationship? It is a never-ending task of which I never tire.
  • Never settle for logical when "gut" is speaking louder. Instinct comes naturally and is key to being a catalyst. Logic is simply a way of explaining why we ignored our instinct. Think less--feel more.
  • Challenge anyone that wants to limit the range of your influence. This amounts to "being controlled", which is another way of saying, "I want you to only work towards my goals." This is a bad thing. Period.
  • Be honest. Maybe brutally so. Being a catalyst requires that everyone around you is always quite clear on whom you are, what you want, what you are going to do, and why you are going to do it. It is amazing how quickly "truth" opens the door to opportunity.
  • Trust everyone else at least once. Again -- period.
  • Think like an eight year old. Now that I am over 50 it has become a more and more difficult task, but I do remember it vaguely. And I can see it whenever I'm around children of that age. That year (or thereabouts) a child's curiousity and their understanding of what might be possible reach a peak. Nothing seems impossible and everything is within reach. Is that cool or what!?
That's my first take. I know there is more but here is where I will start. Maybe you can tell me more about what makes you a "catalyst".

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Terrible Mistakes When Planning Sponsored Award Events

A lot of law firm marketing budgets are expended on sponsoring industry and community awards events. If you spend your dollar wisely one or more of your attorneys will be a part of the organizing committee and participate in planning and execution. This is a good thing as a relationship development activity. It's a bad thing if they put together a bad event! While I know that no one wishes to be a part of planning a bad event, I can always tell when an event was planned by non-marketer professionals. If you are listening -- here is what, at all costs, NOT to do:
  • Don't let sponsors on-stage, in script or in person. I attended a dinner event this evening that dedicated more than fifteen minutes to acknowledging sponsors. PLEASE STOP! Every non-sponsor in the room was silently begging for this portion to end! We all are forced to sit through commercials we don't remember when watching TV. Why bring it here? And why does an audience need to hear another commercial to introduce a sponsor to introduce an award winner? Enough all ready!
  • Use a professional emcee or someone that knows the role of an emcee. An emcee controls pace, reads an audience, works the audience, and keeps people engaged. Desire to perform the role of emcee does not replace the skills to deliver a good performance.
  • Chicken -- BAD. Anything else -- good. Chicken-anything at a hotel event is so disliked it has become an everyday joke. While it may be the cheapest choice it is not a selection that will be endearing to your audience.
  • Don't use the hotel sound system! Once again a less-expensive alternative, but if you want your audience to hear every word (without irritation) spend a few more dollars for a sound system that works.
  • Use lighting to control attendee movement. Hotels always offer the "bell person" to walk among attendees ringing a musical tone to signal time for seating. Given the din of conversation and background music -- not very effective. Instead, follow the example of performance halls. Dim the lights repeatedly. This simple technique triggers an unexpected sensory experience and your attendees will pay attention.
These are the first few, more to come later.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Enabling Creativity Via the Space You Meet

This article on the effects of ceiling height on individual creativity should be interesting to law firm marketers and may effect where you conduct meetings with your staff and firm attorneys. In summary the study shows that higher ceiling heights enable more creative thinking.

The next time you need to conduct a meeting requiring out-of-the-box thinking by participants schedule it in whatever space you can find with high ceilings.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Developing Face-to-Face Networking Skills :: Idea #7

One event = one email, one note, one call.

Have you ever heard the lament, "I go to a lot of events but never seem to do anything with all of the people I meet."? It makes a lot of sense that most of us are not getting any relationship mileage from the people we're meeting. After the event is over we're burdened with this giant stack of business cards, a few crisp memories, and a bunch of fuzzy ones. Looking at the stack of cards we're overwhelmed with what comes next... Here is an idea for getting something from your efforts.

Sort through the stack of business cards and select three. Hang on to those three cards and toss the rest into a corner to gather dust (or hand them off to get entered in a database or whatever -- just get them off your desk).

Grab your keyboard and open a new email, address it to one of the people from your three cards. Tell him/her it was great to hook up with them, offer to meet him/her for coffee one morning to learn more about their business. Number one is done.

Now, reach into your desk and grab a personalized note card and envelope. To the person on the second business card write a two line message... (great to meet you... best of success to you... if I can be of any help, etc.). Sign it, put your business card inside the note, address the envelope, put it in the mail. Number two is done.

Finally, grab your phone and dial the person on the last business card. Whether you reach them directly or are jumped to voicemail, tell him/her it was great to meet and that you'd love to get together for lunch to learn more about their business. Number three is done. Now move on with your life.

This idea works because you begin by acknowledging you only have time for a few people you meet, not all of them. If you work these ideas you'll find that over time this small effort will harvest great attention and strong relationships.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Developing Face-to-Face Networking Skills :: Idea #6

I was at a networking reception the other evening and spotted a partner from my firm talking with someone... I walked over, and after quick introductions, could tell my partner was trapped in a conversation going nowhere by an attendee with nothing much to say. A nice guy to be sure, but not productive as a contact.

"It is so good to meet you Joe (not his real name)." I said. "Do you mind if I steal my partner away for the moment?"

Working as a team at a reception has tremendous value. I'll cover your back, you'll cover mine. Working with a teammate has incredible advantages. I can cover twice as much ground, compare notes, be strategic, AND, have a savior when I'm trapped.

Consider making it a rule to attend business events with an ally whenever possible. Not only can it be a strategically valuable choice, It can also be strengthening to know you're not alone.

Friday, May 04, 2007

MC Blog Featured at Marketing Mix

The great thing about running StatCounter on the back-end of the MC blog is that I can see where readers are coming from. To my amazement this blog was recently one of the topics of discussion at the first Marketing Mentor Coffee Break hosted by the creative minds at The Marketing Mix, the creators of Marketing Mentor and the community that's sprung up around it.

I am always amazed that anyone stops by to read what I've written. This blog is simply a place for me to keep my head tuned and on track. I don't promote this site and yet people come to browse. Thank you to the "Mix Mistress" Colleen, and Marketing Mentor founders Ilise, Peleg. A I appreciate the compliment offered by attention.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Developing Face-to-Face Networking Skills :: Idea #5

In the 1988 movie, "BIG", toy magnate MacMillan (Robert Loggia) has just been stalked at a company party by Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), an intense executive looking for any edge to get herself noticed by the CEO (MacMillan). In this scene he finally turns to her and remarks calmly, "Susan. It's a party. Try to relax and enjoy yourself." That's simply wonderful advise for anyone headed in the door of any business networking event. It's a party. Relax and enjoy yourself.

When you arrive all kinds of intense--fired up to get in there and do some business (a hunter) you will turn people off before you're ten feet away. There is nothing more uncomfortable and unpleasant than being the target of a hunter. Everything coming out of the mouth of a hunter is planned and pointed. There are no conversations, just manipulated interactions so the hunter can slip in pieces and parts of his/her sales pitch....


I like networking events because I like meeting people. I enjoy the stimulation of conversations, exploring interests, hearing stories and having a few laughs. If I'm guilty of hunting for anything, it would be hunting for more fun.

The great thing about relaxing and enjoying the moment is that business and relationships still find me. Not because I shot them and hauled them out like a conquering hero, but because I've found new friends in business.

Don't worry if you are a hunter in recovery. "Business" will arrive in conversation all by itself. People will talk about what they do in business, they'll be curious about you do. That's what happens at a "business" event. I don't have to force it happen. I can just relax and enjoy. So can you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Developing Face-to-Face Networking Skills :: Idea #4

What's in your hand? Most networking events almost universally coincide with meal times and you're going to be hungry. Finger foods, buffet offerings, and beverages will abound. At some point you may have a glass in one hand, a plate in the other, and a mouthful of crab-cake just as someone walks over to talk--or will you? Here are some quick thoughts on keeping your hands and mouth free.
  • Whenever possible always eat something BEFORE you go to an event. I'm in the habit of grabbing a junior burger or taco at a drive-through on the way (my healthy-eating friends keep nutrition bars in their car or grab a smoothie). Hunger is a powerful motivator and if you arrive with an empty stomach you will spend more time looking for the prosciutto tray than people you need to meet.
  • If you succumb to hunger, step away from the center of the crowd and have a bite. On a side note, do not fill your plate like it is your last meal. Several trips with small amounts will go over much better than appearing as a glutton.
  • If your hands are full, don't ask anyone to "hold this for a second" so you can shake a hand, get something more, or worse, go off to visit the... well, you know.
  • If you insist on filling your hands with food and drink, stand next to something you can put them on.
  • Always work to keep your right hand available (the hand you shake with).
  • DON'T talk with food in your mouth! And, putting your hand up to cover your mouth while you talk IS NOT an acceptable solution.
  • Alcohol will fuzz your focus. If you need something to sip, stick with non-alcoholic beverages. No one but you knows the difference between water and ice or vodka and ice.
  • Avoid clammy hands (is there anything worse than a clammy handshake?) by keeping your hands out of your pockets, and by carrying a napkin in the palm of your hand (people will think the napkin is left over from the last drink you had or food you ate).
  • If you want to collect the printed stuff that sponsors always have laying around, do your collecting on your way out.
While we are speaking about hands think also about the appearance of your hands. LOOK at your hands before you go to an event! Are they clean? Are your fingernails clean and trimmed (or cared for)? People you meet notice this stuff!

Though there are many more tips; what's listed above are the simplest to do (or not to do) at every event you attend. Help your investment of time (and maybe money) do the most for you by focusing on your goal; To meet people, extend your business, and grow your reputation.

Graphic Artists are Crazy

I might know. I am one. But, not like, "Wooo Hooooo, la la la la la, put me in a rubber room!!" Go online and look at any portfo...