Hard work and experience alone will not translate into new business. To make the short list that prospective clients create when seeking counsel you need to be positioned as one of the top experts in your business community. If you are the best kept secret in your area of expertise you will never reach your income potential.
Positioning yourself as an expert is important because there are many choices that clients have for representation, and they can ever only talk to a small number of lawyers when they are looking to make a decision. Most professionals tell me their clients will interview approximately three options before making a decision, and thus is you are not showing up on these "Short Lists" then you are not even being considered.
A lawyer who is viewed as the "Go To" provider in their practice area is always top of mind with both clients and referral sources. This positioning rarely happens by accident, and is not always because they have the highest level of experience. Becoming the "Go To Lawyer" means you intentionally engage with people and put in an effort to establish your reputation.
Being good at what you do is important (do not think I am saying the opposite), but most of your competitors are also smart, well educated, and have the right expertise to serve the same clients you want to represent. Many lawyers discredit their competitors only to see clients select the "lesser choice" as counsel. They then rationalize that the clients are at fault for making the "wrong" decision. When you view your competitors as worthy adversaries you will work harder to set yourself up as the "right" choice by consistently building a strong brand.
To be positioned you must get involved in your community. Doing work for current clients is important, but if that is all you do you will see gaps in your practice as once the matter at hand is concluded there will be no other work coming in the door.
If you are worried about the amount of effort it takes to be positioned as one of the top experts in your area, you should be worried. This is work that is paramount to the long-term success of your practice. When you are not positioned near the top, then someone else is.... and this means you are handing them your future clients (and I doubt they will send you a handwritten thank you note for your complacency).
All law firms should make positioning a regular topic in their partner meetings and section meetings. Each lawyer should be asked to realistically report who is viewed as their biggest competitor and dissect what factors play into the reputation and status of other lawyers. If this is not a priority then it is left to chance. If you do not know who is realistically positioned as the expert, then you are not going to win business.
Have A Great Day.
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 www.ThomSinger.com.