We set business goals at the beginning of the year with every intention of meeting them. But life can get messy and this year things got VERY messy. In today’s episode I am going to teach you three strategies you can use to get your business back on track. These are concrete strategies that you can not only use right away but you can work on RIGHT NOW as I outline them for you.
In this episode we discuss:
- What to do when you find yourself off course from making your goals due to unplanned challenges out of your control, such as covid.
- The importance of knowing your numbers when evaluating your business.
- How your reaction to unplanned challenges can impact business outcomes.
- Taking personal responsibility for your choices as they influence and contribute to outcomes going forward.
- Owning control over the things that you can control.
- Taking stock of your mental health and mindset.
- Asking yourself how you have maintained or changed your standards to adjust to a changed workplace.
- The impact PPP loans may have on your tax bill due to be paid next year.
- How there’s still time for an amazing fourth quarter with the right course corrections.
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business, and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:25] This week we are going to talk about the fact that you should stop the vanity networking. So what do I mean by vanity networking? Well, the best way of describing it is to think about those people who love to go out and make friends. They are the people that we refer to as the politicians. They love to shake hands and kiss babies. They just are the, the people, people of the world. And there’s a great skill set that comes with being a people person who knows how to make connections, who knows how to drive engagement, and get people interested in your message. But when I talk about vanity networking, I’m talking about those people that don’t network with intentionality. They go into a networking opportunity as an experience of being social and making friends. And while there certainly is nothing wrong with making friends and being social, the intelligent, capable business owner should be thinking about the ways in which that particular skill set, if they have it or if they’re developing it, that that particular array of skills are going to lead to business coming in the door. And that’s the part of networking that I think a lot of lawyers miss out on. We think, hey, I’m just going to go out, I’m going to meet people, I’m going to have some conversations, and I’m going to hope that business comes in because people like me and this is not that we don’t want you to be the pick me of the legal industry or the business industry. We want you to get into the habit of going in with a plan, making the right connections, and then coming out with an expectation of business in the reasonably foreseeable future.
Allison Williams: [00:02:12] So there are three strategies I want I want to share with you today to help you to get out of the habit of vanity networking. So the very first thing I want you to think about is that you have to go to every networking event with a plan. Now, this does not mean that you are going to plan out what you’re going to talk about necessarily, or that you’re going to have a map of exactly where the people are in the room. Okay. We don’t want you to get to the point where you are so robotic in the way that you’re approaching it, that the humanistic element of creating relationships gets lost. But we do want you to go with the plan. So that would normally look like deciding in advance how many people you need to speak to. And once you’ve decided how many people you need to speak to, actually making a plan for how long you’re going to speak to them. Generally speaking, you want to have some flexibility, but you want to have a plan for how many people you’re going to be able to get to in the time you’re going to be at the event. So if you know you’re just going for an hour, it’s unreasonable that you’re going to speak to ten different people and have exactly the right amount of conversations. That’s a very short period of time to have conversation. And then, God forbid, what if one of them is unavailable, or speaking to someone else or runs to the bathroom? You would miss your window. So you want to have a small enough number of people that you can get to them and have a reasonable conversation. 5 to 10 minutes at the low end, 15 to 20 on the high end. And you want to make sure that in that time that you are covering certain points.
Allison Williams: [00:03:42] Now you’re probably going to ask me next, one of the points. So we don’t want you to actually plan out what you’re going to talk about. Your goal here is to really just engage with people, right? You’re going to go in with the idea of who you’re going to speak to, and they’re going to be within a certain category depending on the type of event you’re at.
Allison Williams: [00:03:58] So if it’s a Chamber of Commerce event, you might know that there are certain business owners that are represented in that particular venue where you’re going to actually be thinking in advance about who’s in the room. But you don’t necessarily want to say, I’m going to talk to this business owner about X, Y, and Z and another business owner about A, B, and C. Instead, you want to think about the topics on which you can develop a general report, and your goal is to make sure that you get their contact information so that the real substantive conversation that you will plan for is going to happen at some point in time, in the future, in a 1 to 1 setting. So networking events are not where the actual networking happens. It is, if you think about it, the prospecting for networking, it is the first step where you’re creating that initial on-ramp where people know who you are, so that when you contact them in the future and say, Hey, let’s get together to have a substantive conversation about how we can benefit each other’s businesses. That makes sens, they know who you are and they’re interested in having that conversation.
Allison Williams: [00:05:01] All right. Strategy number two, to avoid the vanity networking is that you want to target people with purpose. Now, what I mean by that is for a lot of us, we think if I’m a lawyer, there are other lawyers who may not do the work that I do and could make referrals. And lawyers are a great source of referrals for other lawyers. But there are definitely. Some industries that naturally refer to each other far more often than others. For instance, I can’t tell you the last time I got a referral from an asbestos litigation attorney as a family law attorney. It’s not that the asbestos litigation attorney doesn’t know. People who could need my service is that they don’t regularly encounter them. However, people such as mental health professionals, oftentimes especially licensed marriage and family therapists, are often encountering people weekly, if not daily. Who would need my service? That type of person is a better referral source for me. So you really have to think about who is your target demographic, who do you serve, and who are the other professionals who serve that demographic? Once you understand that, once you have an idea of who are your common clients, then you can start to have a better source. In other words, when you’re creating the list of events you want to go to, you can say, Yeah, I’m more likely to find people with my common clients at this type of event versus another type of event.
Allison Williams: [00:06:31] So you really want to think about that before you just start offering yourself up to go to a particular event, not because you don’t enjoy them. Some of you extroverts probably really enjoy those events, but your time is precious, especially as a law firm owner. You only have so many hours that you can give over to networking. You want to do it. You want to spend that time where you’re most likely to get the greatest bang for your networking buck. All right.
Allison Williams: [00:06:57] Strategy number three. The third thing you want to think about is that you want to spend your time effectively. Now, this is not just your time at the event. It is also your time after the event. Now, what I mean by spending your time effectively is what I see a lot of lawyers do is you go in with a plan, right? You know who you’re going to talk to. You know, generally what you’re going to gather from them in order to be able to have that 1-to-1 follow-up in the future. You’ve gone in with a great strategy, but then it falls flat when you get back to your office. You’ve either taken their V card or maybe you scan their QR code and you’ve got their LinkedIn information, or maybe you even got the good old-fashioned business card.
Allison Williams: [00:07:39] But you have their information and you just kind of throw it on to your desk and say, All right, I’ll get around to that later, and then you don’t get around to it. So we really want to encourage you to have a staff person. If you have staff to be the designated person every time you go to an event to be looking out for that contact information afterward and then you want to have a follow-up plan. That follow-up plan should include some form of connectivity, some form of engagement after the event to remind the person where they met you and who you are. Right. So perhaps that communication could include your picture. So it could be by virtue of an email that has your picture on it, or it could be that you send a letter and inside the letter you include a business card with your picture. But something to remind the person generally, Hey, this is the person that you met at the event and we spoke about a certain topic and then that follow-up needs to include an invitation to the next step. You always want to have a call to action for your potential referral sources the same way you want to with your prospects. You don’t want to leave it to chance that you’re going to have a great connection with someone and have a wonderful conversation, build some rapport and get ready for that 1 to 1 and just kind of hope that someone eventually gets around to inviting the other out.
Allison Williams: [00:08:55] You want to be the person that’s proactively taking the bull by the horns and inviting that prospect or that prospective referral relationship partner out for some type of contact. Right. That and buy out, by the way, I don’t mean you don’t necessarily have to go out. You can invite them to a Zoom meeting, you can invite them to coffee. You could just stop by their office. Right. But you want to have a planned event where you two are going to be intentional about discussing business.
Allison Williams: [00:09:21] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. You’ve been listening to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. I’ll see you on our next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:09:36] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned. Check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.
My favorite excerpt from the episode:
00:17:21 (47 Seconds)
Almost instinctually, we go to the mindset of if something is happening in the external world, we have no choice but to accept the ramifications of that in our law firm. And many times that is not true. Many times we are making choices that have adverse consequences for our business and if we were to make a different choice, the consequence would be different. And so you have to start thinking about what exactly is the cause of the current circumstance that you’re experiencing in your business, whether it’s an uptick or a downward slide in business. Where did that come from and what are all the pieces that contributed to that so that you can start making different choices to change the outcome that you’re experiencing.
00:35:57 (43 Seconds)
There are ways for you to keep the standard the same in terms of production, but allow for some modification of what will actually be produced, meaning if I don’t have the work to give to a client, I could give the work into a marketing initiative or I could give the work into a system for the firm, or I could give the work into, you know, pouring into the cultural morale, depending on how high your standards are. Ultimately, that will dictate whether or not your standards should be modified. But if there’s a modification, the modification should be a revamping of your structure and it ought to have very clearly defined parameters around it. It should not be simply a wholesale walking away from the standards that you created.
00:41:31 (19 Seconds)
But your goal is to be fully educated and to make decisions that are best for your business based on your business metrics and separating your emotional connection to those decisions from the analysis. And this is where taking stock of yourself and why you are doing what you were doing is very important.