Thursday, November 07, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - H is for Host

Being a host or hostess allows you stand out from your competition in a world that is full of noise.  It shows your human side.  

Whether you plan your own educational and social meetups or take others along to existing events as your guest, when you provide positive experiences clients and prospects will remember you more.  Humans are experiential beings and when we share time with others we build stronger bonds.

"Hosting" in a business situation is similar to hosting a gathering in your house.  You have to plan all the details to ensure that all runs smoothly. Leaving the flow of the agenda up in the air can seem spontaneous, but the more you pre-plan the better the outcome.  Being the host means investing time and money, but the rewards can be seen in future business and referrals.  

Many lawyers avoid being a host because they do not want the hassle and think it would be awkward to invite people to participate, but if you look around at some of the most successful attorneys,  many use this technique as a key way to establish, cultivate, and maintain their business relationships (This is for those people you already know -- I am not suggesting your stalk strangers and put them on your invite list!)

The ways in which you host others, and the types of events you invite them to, will depend greatly on your own personality and interests.  You should not take clients to the symphony if you do not enjoy the symphony. Golf and other sporting events are often a great way to connect, but it is dependent on the other person's interest level in the activity.  Dinner parties can be effective, but not all types of practices lend themselves to having clients to your home.  And creating educational seminars would depend on the level of impact your field of expertise can have on your clientele.

What you do is not the most important part, it is doing something that gives you an excuse to reach out and make the ask, be the host for the event, and then follow up afterwards.

Individual Shared Experiences

Many business professionals use golf as tool for strengthening connections, but because of the time commitments (or lack of desire or talent for golf), some lawyers do not play the sport. If you are not a golfer it is a mistake to think that the answer to better business development is "golfing".  

Instead you should look at the desired outcome that comes from playing golf with clients:  It is about the time spent together.  Golf takes several hours and you are in a small group.  This provides the rare luxury of time together without an agenda for the conversation.  But this same level of intimacy can be attained by attending any number of types of events: seminars, charity fundraisers, a night at the theater, concerts, dinners out with spouses, etc....  While some activities do not allow for the same type of one-on-one conversations, these are still great ways to get to know people on a more personal level.

Success in in the personal time together and the shared experience.

Hosted Group Events - Educational

Presenting a seminar on a topic that shows you and your firm's level of expertise on a topic can be a wonderful way to provide value to clients and position yourself as the "Go-To Lawyer" in your community.  When you gather a group of clients and prospects together and provide them with valuable information that can impact their business, they remember you for it. Additionally, if those in attendance can have the opportunity to meet each other and share their knowledge on the subject, then you are the conduit that helps them connect with other business professionals.  

Hosted Group Events - Social

The "Client Holiday Party" may seem cliche, but there is a reason that professional services firms host these types of events.  The relaxed atmosphere and festive occasion allows people to come together and celebrate.  While you do not want to recreate an "Animal House" frat party type event, the fun that comes from a causal social gathering will allow people to feel more connected with those in your firm.  

Having people show up at the office (for an educational or social event) is similar to having friends to your home for dinner.  Think about it, we are not invited to everyone's house, but usually once we have been inside someone's home we feel more connected to them.  The same is true in business.  Get people into your facility when possible.  Be sure these events are not all about the firm (it is not a commercial), but instead make the focus on those who attend.  There is no need to interrupt the party with the managing partner to giving a speech (these are usually dull and kill the mood of the event).  Let people mingle, and prepare your staff on how to behave as hosts so they can have meaningful engagement with all your guests.

A great idea is to host your clients social event at an alternative time of the year. Everyone has a crazy schedule in December, and you might get better attendance in spring or summer.

**Side note:  Make sure to provide nametags for any gathering with over 15 guests that is held at your office or other professional site (not in your home).  While your lawyers might know all the clients, they do not know each other (and may not remember everyone on your team).  Make it easy for people to network.  

It is important to remember that a single party or night out will not build a relationship with anyone.  Your hosting strategy must be part of your ongoing networking, business development and branding strategy. 

If you have not acted as a "host" to those in your network (either in one-on-one encounters or group settings) you are missing a great way to build stronger relationships and solidify your reputation in your business community.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development.  He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales.  He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success.  More information at

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