Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Send A Sympathy Card - Handwritten Notes Have A Lasting Impact

Following the recent passing of my father I received many sympathy cards in the mail.  If you have been reading my blog recently (or other social media) you know that I have been focused on the topic of sending personal notes.  In our "social media crazy world" all personal communications have a way of standing out. 

I have been especially high on "Thank You Notes".... but was reminded of the power of a sympathy card.
If you know someone is is going through a rough time, your short handwritten words have amazing power to touch their heart and soul.  All of the cards that we received were special.  Some people did not know my dad, but shared their caring for our family.  Others included a personal story of their memories of his life.

(To be clear... I am not dissing the digital communications, as we also got many emails and other social media messages of condolence.  They also are special, important, and appreciated.  But there is something about a tangible card in the mailbox that make one stop and feel.  There is a lasting impact in a handwritten note).

I have declared 2014 as the "Year of the Handwritten Note" (help spread the word, as right now only about three people know about this important proclamation!!!).  Show people you care by writing to them, placing a stamp on the envelope, and giving it to the postman!  The art of the handwritten note is lost in our society, but when you send a card, people notice.

Have A Great Day

thom singer 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - O is for Office

Many lawyers are not alone.  While the job can feel isolating, most work in offices filled with very talented and dedicated professionals.  Look outside your office door and you will find an office full of people who should be viewed as part of your business development and marketing team.  

The partners and associates in your practice group, and other groups, should be working together so that you are all cross promoting each other's skills.  Having three, ten, fifty or one hundred lawyers marketing your business is much more powerful than standing alone.  

However it is common that firms develop an "eat what you kill" mentality and actually set co-workers up as competitors.  If this sounds like the  culture at your firm then you are leaving future revenues behind.  This will not change unless it is actively addressed, and this is a major cause of why lawyers leave firms (and take their books of business with them).

This team effort should not limited to only the attorneys in your firm.  The professional staff can often be the best fuel for the word of mouth marketing in your community.  Those who work with you have a reach that is much farther than you may be aware. These people all have neighbors, friends, and others who they know through any number of activities.  When they speak of their career (and most of us do talk about work), what are they saying?  It is surprising how often people (including other lawyers) share the dirty laundry of the dysfunction at their offices.  This becomes part of the firm brand all over town.  When people are treated as an important part of the team, they will spread the word about your office with a positive spin.  Treat them poorly and they will talk.

Your office should be having regular business development and marketing meetings, and include the professional staff (this will let them know they are viewed important members of the team).  Open discussions about prospects, business development efforts, and marketing plans allows everyone to be focused on the same goals, and eliminates the ability for some attorneys to hide and not participate in marketing the firm.  In these meetings everyone should be encouraged to participate and share ideas.  No idea is a bad idea, and those who are trying to advance the cause should be praised publicly for their participation.

If you want those in your office to help you succeed, you must remember that they also want to find success.  You must lead by example, and not always keep score.  Make it part of your own business development plan to help people you work with achieve their goals.  This is more than sending business leads to the other lawyers (although that is part of it), but involves understanding what motivates your co-workers in life and then being a resource for them when you can.  

Final thought..... Do not refer to the professional staff in your office as "non-lawyers".  This is a condescending but common way the people in a law firm are described ("lawyers" and "non-lawyers").  It separates the team and creates an "us vs. them" culture that will limit creating a unified culture.  Some larger firms even have separate holiday parties... one for attorneys, and another for staff.  The worst part of this is the per-person cost invested in the party is often much higher for lawyers.  If your firm does this you can be sure this is impacts your brand in the community (nobody is impressed when you pamper your attorneys and give less to the rest of your team).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

It is not always about you (or me)

Just because something is not organized the way you want it to be..... that does not make it wrong!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do - Christine Stock Helps Teens Find The Right Books To Read

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Christine Stock has begun blogging for the Huffington Post Canada (Check out her first two posts:  "Does Proxy Argue for the Affluenza Defense" and  "Getting Your Teen To Read For Pleasure"). 

Christine is married to one of my college fraternity brothers and they live in Toronto (Will is Canadian).  I have enjoyed visiting with them this year when I had the chance to speak at business conferences in Canada.  

She is a dedicated educator who has a passion for getting teens to read more books.  In her high school years she discovered the joy of reading, and went on to get her bachelors and masters degrees in English.  For the past decade she has been teaching English and Creative Writing in Toronto, Canada.

She also has started her own blog and website where she is reviewing books for teens and sharing advice for students, parents and teachers.  Check out Great Reads for Teens for more information.  She already has some great stuff online, and I am sure there is a lot more to follow. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, December 20, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - N is for Networking

Growing a legal practice can be an all encompassing experience. Many lawyers put so much attention into their current client matters that they fail to honor the time to make, grow and keep their business relationships. The immediacy of issues surrounding today's problems leaves little space for things that do not create instant billable "ROI".

The pressures inside law firms to meet an annual billable requirement takes away the focus from all other activities.  With limited hours in the day, and the intensity necessary be a successful attorney, it becomes easy for a lawyer to push the cultivation of relationships to a "nice to have" activity instead of a "must have activity". 

 While time is limited and precious, it is important for lawyers to remember that all opportunities come from people and that law is a relationship business.  If you have the right network in place, most of the challenges faced (including developing future business) will quickly be solved through a few well through out phone calls.

However, you cannot wait until you have a need to try to build a network. If the only time you show up at business events or place calls to those you already know is when you have need, you will find it difficult to get the responses you desire. Building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships takes time, and even in our fast paced digital world you cannot create a friendship through sending a LinkedIn request (or a bill).

It is through people that you can quickly find new business or other things you will require to have a successful practice.  There are not short cuts to meaningful connections with people who know, like, and trust you and that understand your business.

Lawyers often make the mistake of only wanting to network with other lawyers. While this is a good idea for certain practices, if you only socialize with others who hold JDs you will never have a well rounded life. There must be diversity in your network.  This also goes beyond the types of jobs people have... and includes diversity of race, religions, sex, and age.

Out of sight is out of mind. Even when you are busy serving your existing clients, you cannot disappear from your extended business community. There will come a time when you will need other people, and you cannot expect them to be sitting around waiting for your call. You must cultivate the connection always and everywhere.
Make networking a priority.

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 www.ThomSinger.com.

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - M is for Moments

In all your business efforts you must be present in the moment.  There is a time and place for everything, and your marketing activities are important for your future success. Business development should not be treated as a low priority.  To position yourself for a long and successful career you must be intentional in what your actions.  This is especially true in your activities that involve interacting and networking with other people.

It is easy to get distracted with work, family and other obligations, and thus allow business development to happen when you feel like it, if you have time, and regardless of if you are focused on the task.  This will lead to haphazard results, and then you lose your enthusiasm for the whole concept of building your reputation and brand.

Wherever you are, be there and pay attention to the people around you.  Too often lawyers show up at business events and spend their whole time distracted by checking emails, making calls, and scanning their social media stream.  If you are talking to someone who is staring at their phone and not listening to what you are saying you will not be impressed.  But my guess is you have done the same thing to others (most of us have done this).  

I see people who treat others poorly on a regular basis (and not intentionally) then become angry at those who do the same thing to them.  Step back and look at how you behave when you are sharing a moment with people in your business community and lead by example.  Keep your phone in your pocket, or better yet... leave it in your car when you go to a meeting, lunch or other business gathering.

Why give people a reason to jump to conclusions that you are a jerk.  In your mind you are just keeping up with the onslaught of information that comes your way, but from the point of others you are not choosing to be present in the moment (this is true at home, too).

Occasionally you will have an important issue brewing somewhere (and I am talking about real important issues, not the ones you justify in your mind to add to your sense of self-importance), in which case I suggest not going to networking functions.  When you know you will distracted, stay focused on the one issue that needs your immediate attention.  By not making your interactions with people a priority, you are wasting your time (and their time!). 

Some justify they always have important things happening that require them to multi-task, but I believe if your biggest client who accounted for most of your income asked you for an hour of undivided attention (or you would be fired) you would be very focused.  Business development and marketing activities are just like the client who holds your future income in his or her hand.  

Not being mentally present in the moments spent with others is a problem that impacts many driven business professionals (not just attorneys) - but this is not true of all people who are successful.  I hear excuses all the time, but if you look at the people who have the best reputations in any industry, those around them feel they are all that matters to that person when they are in their presence. 

Show people that they are important to you in the present moment and you will invite an ongoing relationship. 

Being in the moment is a choice.  The alternative is rude.

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 www.ThomSinger.com.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let People Know What You Want

You must let people know what you desire if you expect them to assist you in reaching your goals. Too often we think that others instinctively know what we seek, and then are disappointed when nobody refers opportunities.

On my email signature I have a sentence at the bottom that says "I am looking for introductions to companies that host "Users Conferences" or other meetings - Thanks!"  While most ignore these words, I also get several leads each year from those who are reminded about my speaking and being a Master of Ceremonies.

If you want something... let people know.

Have A Great Day

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Ways To Make Your Conference About the Attendees

My friend Dave Lutz (CEO of Velvet Chainsaw) wrote a great article on the PCMA Convene Magazine titled "5 Ways to Make Your Conference Marketing About Attendee Benefits".  It is an important reminder for event professionals, as how you position your event directly impacts if people show up and participate in the conference.

His writing inspired me to think about what then happens at the actual event.  We should all follow his advice in how the marketing should be for the attendee (not for the planning organization), but the focus on the audience should not stop in the promotions.

Here are my thoughts (and hat tip to Dave Lutz, as some of the tips are similar to his marketing ideas):

5 Ways To Make Your Conference About the Attendee

1.  It is about them, not you.  Too often the focus of opening or closing sessions at events is dedicated to thanking their board, organizing committee, etc....  While recognizing people for their efforts to the organization is important, people will never ask "could you have made that part where you bring every volunteer on stage even longer?".  Respect the audiences time and do not bore them with internal back patting. 

All activities on the agenda should be filtered through the "Is this about the audience" filter.

2.  Why did they attend?  There is a lot of attention put on content, but if attending an event was only about the content then a live event is not the best delivery mechanism.  Yes, people want high level learning, but they also want to have an experience and network with peer.  Often these do not get the true level of importance in a survey, as it does not come off as sounding as "professional" as talking about the content.  Do not hide behind the currently popular mantra of "Content is King", as that misses the whole picture.

Discover what people really want.

3.  The speakers set the tone.  The general sessions and breakout sessions have a profound impact on the experience of the attendees.  These are shared experiences that impact the "mini-society" that is created at a conference. A speaker is not a commodity item chosen to fill a slot on the agenda. Those who are selected to present need to be vetted a great speakers who can share content and inspire.  

Just because someone is smart or has done something cool - it does not mean they belong on stage.

4.  Technology is great, but not if it hurts live connections.  We live in a technology and social media crazy world.  These tools are amazing and can have a positive impact on allowing people access to information and about each other.  But sometimes the app distracts from the live experiences.  If people are glued to their smart phones on every break, they are not talking to each other.

Tech does not replace the power of the impromptu hallway conversations that happen when people engage in a live conversation.

5.  Create a networking culture.  Networking does not happen by accident.  While attendees report they  go to live events for the "networking opportunities", too often they fail to make the types of connections they desire.  They spend their time with co-workers of surfing information on their smart phones.  To create a culture for networking you must do more than have an open bar at the first-timers reception.  There needs to be ample time during breaks and there needs to be a "lounge" setting where people can easily meet and converse.  You also need to educate the people about how to maximize their conference experience.

Do not assume that people will network on their own.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Dad

In place of my weekly "Cool Things My Friends Do" post .... today this spot on my blog is dedicated to the memory of my father.  He was cool.  He passed away this week at the age of 99-years-old. 

The above photo is my favorite picture of he and I together. It was taken about seven years ago when  I was visiting him in California. I have many great memories thoughout my life of the times we spent together.

Dad lived a long and happy life.  The 100 years that he witnessed were about the most interesting times in human history.  He raised four sons, and got to see all the of his grandchildren.  I cannot ever remember a time when he was not enjoying the journey.

One of my brothers put it best when he said "what more could one want at the end of their life than to have all their kids not just love them, but like them".
He was one of the good ones.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Don't Be Jealous

Instead of being envious of other's success, look to celebrate their victories and help them find more wins.  Their success is proof there is a chance for you.  They did not steal your piece of a little pie.  There is an expanding pie and plenty for all who come to the table. 

Cavett Robert, founder of the National Speakers Association, said this about his industry: "Don't worry about how we divide up the pie, there is enough for everybody. Let's just build a bigger pie!" 

He was right, but many still worry about their allotment of pie and get jealous.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Label Them

It is simple to judge people and assign them a label.  This is the easy way out for those who do not do the work involved in cultivating relationships.

We cannot really know what person is thinking (or feeling) without first investing in getting to know them.  Many talk of connecting, but never seem to go deep enough to respect the soul of others.  Sweeping generalizations are made about the "whole" of another person based on minor observations.

This is short sighted.  Don't be too fast to toss others aside unless you have put in the time.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

People Make The Difference

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  We all have those days when we get bad news or face difficult "life situations".  When faced with adverse conditions..... people matter.  A helping hand, smile, nod or a hug is often all it takes transform the sad into the glad.

Sometimes we get the support, other times we give the support.  Be careful not to be caught up in your own BS that you forget others have their own "stuff".

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Be Open, Learn, and Be Coachable

If it were not for reading books (and blogs, magazines, etc...), attending seminars, asking successful entrepreneurs for their advice and being open to seeing myself as a "work in progress"...  my career would be very different.
A peer was recently described as "Un-Coachable" by several people who know about success in the speaking business.  This is a limiting character trait, as without all the coaching that has come my way (formally and informally) I would still be the same person I was 15 years ago.  I like the "me" of today more than the "me" of yesterday.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Work Hard

A mentor of mine shared with me a key to her long-term success.  Often people have asked her "How did you do it?", in regards to her building a business.  Some of these who questioned saw her as lucky

The truth was she worked hard for over 25 years and never slacked, even when she wanted to rest or felt she had reached the point where she could coast.  She had no other option but to keep working, growing her business, and earning her way in the world.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, December 06, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do - Phil Gerbyshak Sheds 51 Pounds (and is still going strong)

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Phil Gerbyshak is a social media guy. Now many of us run across people who claim status as "Social Media Guru"... but Phil is the real deal. He is also a networking super hero who loves to connect people to ideas, information and other people to make them more of what they want to be. He does a lot of speaking and training on the topics of social media and networking, and he just loves to connect. I got to know Phil online via many marketing social media communities, but we really became friends when he became active in the National Speakers Association (and the NSA XY group).

Phil has a big heart and always is there to help people find success.  But his heart was not all that was BIG.  Until now!!  This week as he celebrated his birthday he proudly announced that he has lost 51 pounds since his last birthday.  WOW. That is cool. 

He did this by being way more intentional about his life. He looked at everything he was doing, and changed a lot of it. Phil focused on eating smaller portions and getting his butt moving. A little at first, then a little more, and now he's doing 10Ks and group fitness 3 days a week.

About his weight loss, Phil says he feels like a new person!  More energy. Happier. Sleeping better. Clothes fit better. He adds "I can do more every day, and I feel addicted to exercise. And my blood pressure is normal again for the first time in 5 years. Life is GREAT!"  

The biggest thing he has learned is life is a choice. You can choose whatever you want, but it will have consequences. Some good consequences, some bad. Exercising gives him good consequences that he loves and he is choosing happiness, energy and exercise --- every day.

The second thing he learned is it takes time to make lasting changes. He hadn't exercised or even thought much about exercise since he left the Navy in 1995. Over that time he went from 180 to 317 pounds (his high weight last December). In 20 years he put on 150 pounds (YIKES) . He lost the 51 pounds a little at a time over a year. He is not usually a patient person, but insists he is getting better at it.... and is committed to keep going.

He is traveling to San Francisco to run the Bay to Breakers race in 2014.  He lived in California when he was at the fittest and happiest point of his life... so this trip is important to him. It's a 12K race, so it may also be the longest race he will run (I don't know, sounds like a Marathon is in his future!!!).

And numerically, if you're keeping score, he wants to weigh (not bowl) 225 by July 1, 2014.  My guess is he will get there.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - L is for Lawyers

Across many practice areas attorneys often receive referrals from other lawyers.  Some refer business inside their firm, others help steer business outside their firm, but in either case it is common for new clients to originate from referrals.  Other lawyers are an important part of a solid business development and marketing plan.

If this is true, then why don't you find lawyers treating each other as if they were made of solid gold. Connections to attorneys can be very valuable over a career.  Networking and cultivating relationships with as many lawyers as possible should be a top priority.  Being respectful to peers would be a great first step, but too often there is a tendency to dismiss others in the legal business without any thought to the long-term benefits to a successful practice.

A lawyer in any size firm can cost his firm big bucks by not being professional with opposing counsel.  When you are disrespectful or try to bully the other side in litigation or in a deal negotiation, those on the other side of the table remember your actions.  When you act in a way that leaves them with a sour impression, you can rest assured that they will never send business your way.  It is not uncommon for lawyer who work opposite one another to later become allies (or even friends).  

How you treat people matters.

Throughout this series of blog posts (The ABC's of Legal Marketing) we are talking about the importance of how you relate to people, and this is doubly important in regards to other lawyers.  Your legal community, however defined, is a tight-knit group.  Your reputation is your calling card.  If you act like a pompous ass thinking it will show how tough or smart you are as a lawyer, it can (and will) backfire on your efforts to attract clients through this amazing network of those with JDs.

In addition to finding clients through referrals, it is more common than ever for lawyers to move their practice from one firm to another.  There are many examples of partners who thought they would never change firms that are suddenly on the market for a new place to hang their shingle.  If you have a long list of people you have alienated there will be fewer options for you (which means less money in compensation).  The smartest firms are adopting the "No Jerk Rule", as law is a tough enough business without working with people you do not like or respect.  Treating people poorly along the way is a fast-pass to less opportunity in your future.

Get involved with your local bar association and take a leadership role.  Be engaged in your alumni association and any other groups that have lawyers as members.  Create friendships, help others, and create a legacy of being a lawyer that others admire for both legal skills and people skills.

It is important to remember that others are not in business to be a one-way referral machine.  If you want to establish long-term and mutually-beneficial relationship you must look for ways to help others reach their goals.  Sometimes this mean referring clients to them (when you can), but it can also be as a resource for them and introducing them to others in the community.  Ask question to discover what they need, as sometimes what is hard for them is easy for you.

A great way to start building relationships in the legal community is by reaching out to those you already know. Reconnect with former co-workers or law school friends.  It is easier to reestablish a relationship than to start fresh.  Learn about their practice and find ways to help them long before you ever expect anything from them. 

Check the calendar for your local bar association and attend one or two educational or social events each month.  If you make an effort to be part of the legal community you will find success. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Handwritten Notes

The Handwritten Note.  Much is said about this little gem, but few people take the time to unleash the power of showing their appreciation, gratitude, etc... with pen and paper.

We now live in a social media crazy world where many people constantly seek productivity shortcuts.  The idea of going "Old School" to actually write a letter, place a stamp on the envelope and then mailing it to someone seems antiquated. However, the extra effort is always noticed and appreciated by the recipient.  Have you ever received a note in snail-mail, opened the envelope, felt the joy of great stationary, and said "DAMN THEM...they should have sent email or better yet.... a text!"?

If the situation that causes you to reach out to someone to say "thank you", "congratulations", or "nice to meet you" is all about self, then of course you want to take the easy path.  However, if the motivation is about the other person, then it means more when you take the extra effort.  When deciding if a handwritten note is the proper way to express your feelings (instead of email or text) you only need to ask the question "Is the recipient worth a few extra moments in time?".  If not, why are you reaching out at all?

Some argue against the handwritten note (I am shocked this is a debatable topic).  In March 2012 I wrote a rebuttal on this blog to a dumb article on Business Insider (by an author who was hoping for such rebuttals, not really for creating great journalism) that belittled the idea of a handwritten note after a job interview.  The truth is that if you don't want the job, then take the easy path.... but there are few situations where the tangible letter would not be a good idea. 

There is a lot of buzz each year about "Gratitude" (this comes up all over the internet and traditional media every Thanksgiving) and this brings with it all the advice about sending more handwritten notes.  I do not think that many people listen.  I suggest that less people send notes via the US Mail now that in the past. Since others are not doing this.... doesn't it sound like a great way for you and your company to get noticed?  Doing what others do makes you a commodity. 

Douglas Conant, the former CEO of Campbell's Soup has written over 30,000 notes to employees and others throughout his career (he mentioned it in 2011 in an article on the HRB website).  That is a lot of notes, but not hard to accomplish if you write regularly.  If the CEO of a major company can write so many notes, then the lame excuse of not having time gets tossed away.   I send about 5 notes each week to people I meet, clients, friends celebrating something cool, or those who refer business.  Simple math shows that over a 25 year career this equals over 6500 notes since I began the process of writing letters.  Even if some weeks I didn't do it, I bet the number is well over 5000.  I am gaining on you, Mr Conant.  

The excuse of bad handwriting is also not going to cut it.  I have rotten handwriting, but I can write slow and make it legible.  We can fabricate a million excuses, but the real point here is to put the attention of your effort on the other person.  Even doctors can write better if they try.  

In 2014 I am promoting "The Year of the Handwritten Note".  I am challenging people to pay attention to the people in their life that are worthy.  When I speak at events I often talk about the power of notes and after my talks there are many people who come and tell me how they agree that a handwritten note made them stand out from the competition.  They have been hired for jobs, selected as vendors, etc.... because of a note.  

If you have a great story of a handwritten note you have sent or received, please write about it on my Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/ThomSingerSpeaker.  I want to hear how notes make a difference in your personal and professional lives.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do: Laura Beck celebrates 3 years in business with stripedshirt.com

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

Today is the day my friend Laura Beck is celebrating three years in business with her apparel company, stripedshirt.  She launched the company on Black Friday in 2010 and has been putting people in stripes ever since.

Before stripedshirt, Laura led the Austin office of Porter Novelli, a global PR firm. Her specialty was PR for tech startups and she continues to do PR consulting (she is one of the best PR people in Austin!!), which, as her husband says, "pays for her stripedshirt habit."

Laura started stripedshirt as kind of a mid life crisis, as she says. She was quitting Porter Novelli and full time PR work on the brink of her oldest daughter starting kindergarten.  She was committed to making a career change up when her kids became school age so she could do the drop off, the pick up, the classroom volunteering, girl scout leading, etc. Knowing she wasn't cut out to be a Full-Time Mom, and on the brink of turning 40-years-old, she decided to give stripedshirt a go. It was a business idea she'd had since the early 90's.  As a female sports fan in Boston she did not like wearing man-sized shirts to Boston College games or have some guy's name on the back of her shirt at Red Sox games.

Laura says the best part of stripedshirt is learning so many new things every day, like a second chapter in her business life. She was well versed in the details of public relations and marketing, and had worked with and supported start up clients for a long time. But this company is her own start up, and with it comes many lessons, victories, and defeats. She's also learning about the fashion and apparel industry, which she knew nothing about before launching the company. However, she finds learning something totally new to be very energizing (and if you know Laura, you know she is already high energy!!!).

What is coming in the future?  Laura will continue to work to grow stripedshirt, and with the increased sales of the current 15 color combos, she will be adding colors. She also has a whole product roadmap beyond the current "Signature stripedshirts" (which are short sleeved striped shirts), including scarves which she's adding to the line now, and then long sleeved shirts and tanks.  Following that will come other products that will be striped in school or team colors to let women, kids and babies support their favorite teams (think beach towels to water bottles to flash drives).

It has been fun to watch Laura grow her company.  I know first hand that her shirts make a great gift, as I got one for my wife last year!   

I admire Laura, and congratulate her on the 3rd anniversary of stripedshirt.

In honor of Black Friday (today), and Small Business Saturday, (celebrated tomorrow, November 30), stripedshirt is running a special, 25% off all orders, for a week, expiring Saturday December 7. Simply enter "3YEARS" at check out for the special 3 year anniversary pricing.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  

Thanksgiving is full of positive family memories from my childhood.  Growing up we spent most holidays with my mother's large extended family, but Thanksgiving was always celebrated with my father's only brother (and his wife and four children).  My cousins and brothers were all a decade or more older than me, so there was no "kids table" (I was right in the mix, often with olives on the ends of all my fingers).... and these dinners of 12 or more were always lively gatherings.

The concept of "giving thanks" is one that I appreciate and try to take seriously.  In our busy world we are often too self-focused growing our careers and meeting our goals to remember to show gratitude (to one's higher power or other people).  While one day a year is a good start, we should express "Thanksgiving" all year round.

10 things that fill me with gratitude:

1.  My wife and kids.  I know that I am fortunate when I see them smile.  Sara and I are very blessed.  

2.  My parents.  I had really good parents who showed unconditional love for their family.  (My mom died 29 years ago, and my dad is currently 99 years old --- but they did a great job all along the way).

3.  My brothers and their families.  While we live in various parts of the country, and do not get together often enough, I cannot be around them without having fun.  I looked up to them as a kid.... and still do.

4  Our extended families.  Sara and I are very fortunate that our families are full of interesting people.  From her parents and sister (and her sister's family), to all of our uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.... these people have made our lives richer.

5.  The Morris family.  Our friends and business partners in New Year Publishing are as much a part of our family as anyone who is related by blood.  I met Dave the first day of college (29 years ago) and we have shared all the good times and bad times along the way.

6.  The friends who have passed through my life.  I have been blessed with some great people who have touched my world all along the journey.  I have kept in touch with many and even those who have drifted in different directions have left their mark.  

7.  My friends in the National Speakers Association.  I stumbled upon a group of people who have helped me build a successful career as a speaker.  I do not think most people have a peer group of "competitors" (although they are not, really, competition) who are also part of their advisory team.  These people are in my corner and I could not have found success in this business without my speaker buddies.

8.  Austin, Texas.  We moved here 23 years ago and had no idea that the next two decades would be lived in one of the best cities in the country.  The economy in Austin has remained strong, and the people in the community are wonderful.  It is a great place to raise our family.

9.  Living in this place in time.  I think with all the ongoing problems, the world and society are as interesting now as at any point in history.  Plus, by living in 2013 I don't have to grow my own carrots or shoot a turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving.

10.  Those who visit this blog, follow my social media posts, read my books, or participate in my live presentations and training classes.  I am fortunate to have a career as a speaker, author and trainer.  The people who have supported my efforts have been many, and I appreciate all of them.

The more I think about gratitude, the more I realize this list could go on forever.  I challenge all who read this post to look at their own lives and discover the joy of being grateful.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - K is for Keywords

In the world of internet marketing a priority is placed on "Keywords".  With regards to websites, blogs or other online properties these are words that are assumed important to those conducting searches for products or services.  The right keyword can make the difference between  being noticed or being passed over in online searches.

But keywords are not just for the internet.  How you talk and the words you use will make you stand out and be noticed.  Selecting keywords that resonate can lead to people having a better understanding of what it is you actually do for a living.  

Search engines often give the most attention to the headings and the first 200 words on a webpage.  Therefore search experts advice that you use these ever important words appropriately up front.  The same is true in when you speak.  People will tune out if you do not grab their attention.

Overused "buzz-words", non-descriptive descriptions, and industry slang will have little meaning to those who are not attorneys.  However, simply saying "I am a lawyer" is far too broad to give any context to the services you provide or the types of clients with whom you work. 

In the same way that SEO consultants prioritize the words for your website, you should pay attention to how you speak and the words you use.  Be intentional in your descriptions of your business. Integrating keywords and phrases into the dialogues you have with other people in your business community will make you memorable.  Being too general is wasting your time.  An internet search engine can only work with what is typed in, and the brains of people can only go with what you tell them.  The rest is left to assumptions, and that can take people down the wrong path.  

We all want to be top of mind with those who can hire us or refer business.  In the same way everyone wants to come up on the first page of a Google search in their area of expertise, you want people to remember you in their minds when they need legal services.

Think about the words you choose and the stories you tell about how you impact clients.  Creating an "elevator pitch" that you memorize and blindly recite is not the best plan.  You need to be flexible in how you talk in different situations and with different people.  How you describe yourself to a potential clients should be unique from how you speak to a referral source, vendor, or past client. 

If you have not given any thought to how you present yourself, or the words you use when you describe your services, you may be missing a valuable opportunity to increase the reach of your brand in your community.  Invest the time in hearing how others talk about their practices and learn from those who do it well (and from those who fail to clearly express themselves).  

Choose keywords that make sense and matter to the people who are listening. Words have power and can paint lasting images that will impact how others judge your business.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This is what "Busy" looks like in my world

In the last eight weeks I have been in a lot of places.  I enjoy my career as a speaker and trainer, and while the travel can be nutty at times.... it is also a lot of fun (and very rewarding).  I have had the chance to be with audiences large and small, and over the course of the past year I have presented 74 times for companies, law firms, and association/industry conferences.  

When I began this journey working for myself I wanted a full calendar of serving great clients.  I cannot complain, but I do now understand what it looks like to be at capacity.  If my whole year was scheduled like the past several weeks I could never maintain the pace.

I have also developed a stronger appreciation for people who are crazy busy (I mean really, really, nutty, nutty busy).  Many have moments where they cannot keep up with everything, and I am much more understanding in those times when others seemingly drop the ball (and / or I am not their immediate priority).  Being busy is a good thing, but there is a point where people can only do so much... and my vantage point of how others manage life in these times of overload has been adjusted.  I think this helps me as a business professional and gives me additional patience with others, and respect for the reality of their lives in many situations.

The real credit goes to my wife and kids -- who were amazing during this year's "busy season".  For our lives to run smoothly everyone has to be a participating member of the business team.  I try to make sure that all are part of the business, as I know that my being gone is not easy for anyone.  They make it all work and are so amazingly supportive of my career. 

Here is a short recap of places I have been to speak (or for other reasons) since October 1st:

San Antonio
New York
Washington DC
Boca Raton
Kansas City
San Jose
San Antonio

I am looking forward to a lighter schedule in December and some quality time with family and friends.... as it all starts over again in January.  I am excited about the new and repeat clients that are coming into my life in 2014.  My seat belt is fastened, it will be a wild ride.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do - Kate's School Play

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

Once again today's "Cool Things" post features one of my kids.  It is always cool to see your children push themselves into new experiences.... and thrive.

It was fun to watch my youngest daughter in her first school play.  Kate is very excited about her theater class and in her first middle school production she landed one of the larger roles (as a 6th grader). It was cool to see her embrace this opportunity and to see her shine on stage. 

She had rehearsals after school for most of the fall semester and never complained about the long hours, later bus ride home (her school has a "late bus" for those who have activities- but it makes for a long day), and then having to get her work done.  She always beamed her big smile when she talked about the play and enjoyed all parts of being in the play.

I was in the audience and was a very proud dad.  She was great.  I found it extra cool to watch this, as I was in theater in junior high and high school.  My own experiences in drama classes were very positive.  While I never became an actor (a childhood dream that I did not pursue), I do use the stagecraft skills I learned in my career as a professional speaker and corporate trainer.  I am confident that Kate's experiences in this time of her life will have positive impacts on her life no matter what career paths she chooses.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Value From Your Trade Show Sponorship

In my travels I meet a lot of people whose companies sponsor trade shows and conferences.  Some of them question the value they get from their investment of time and money in exhibiting.  Those who are unsure of the ROI from participating often surprise me, as the events where they are vendors are often overflowing with A-Level contacts in the industries they desire.

Whose fault is it when a company does not find value in their trade show sponsorship?  Depends on the situation, but often there is finger pointing when the problem is within.

The responsibility can rest with the people who are there to "work the booth".  Too often they waste the opportunities to make connections with other people.  They spend their time talking to co-workers or other vendors and they do no nothing to engage the people who are walking around the trade show floor.  They are hoping the "big fish" will just fall into their net as they juggle the stress balls and read Facebook posts.

Too many people from the sponsoring companies fail to attend the keynotes, breakout workshops, and other conference activities. If someone misses the shared experiences at a conference, they are not part of the event. They are outsiders.  If you did not see the speaker's presentations, then you are not part of the mini-society that is created at an event.  Some claim they have work to do during those talks (their priorities that day should be focused on the event) or that the topics do not match their interests (too bad).  If you did not participate side by side with the attendees you are not their peer.  Instead they see you as a "vendor" who is only present to pounce on sales opportunities.  A small investment of time make you part of the community.

The companies who sponsor are also at fault for sending employees to events without training.  It is assumed that sales and marketing professionals understand how to network at events, but that assumption results in a lot of money being wasted at trade shows.  Many successful companies host pre-event and post event team meetings to discuss the details of how they will be engaged at a trade show.  They bring in outside trainers to educate their staff on the best-practices of working a show and do not leave their ROI of sponsorship to chance.

When a trade show or conference sponsorship fails to result in leads their is often accusations at the event itself fell short.  While there are some weak events, the blame rarely belongs to the organizers.  If people were in attendance and your team failed to meet them or make a meaningful connections, this is due to their actions (or lack of actions).  

In talking with CEO's they all claim their employees are great at working trade shows.  However, when I walk the floor at most conferences there are few sponsors who have a clue on how to be engaging.  This is a huge disconnect, and one that wastes time and money.

I was referred to a company who participates in a lot of trade shows in their industry.  The thought was I could offer training to their team.  An internal employee made the recommendation to the CEO and COO.  When I met with these executives they said it was not necessary as they had excellent internal training systems on this topic for their people.  When I saw this company at a trade show their representatives were tossing a football the whole time that prospective contacts were roaming about the booths.  This is far too common.

To get value from your trade show sponsorship you must get your people committed to the work involved at being at a conference.  It is not just a day away from the office.  It is hard work.  When managers assume their team are great at connecting at trade shows they are usually wasting everyone's time and a lot of the company's money.

If you organization sponsors events create a "blitz" mentality for the next show.  Get all team members committed to being heavily engaged in the full days of the event.  The more involved they are in the event the better connections they will make.  And better contacts will lead to more opportunities.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do: Lani Rosales - REAL

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Lani Rosales has just released her first book; "REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate".  Lani and her co-authors describe the book as "Not your ordinary book on Real Estate - It's a book about Life, People, Health, Rejuvenation and Habits".  In addition to being an expert on the real estate topic, she is also a keen observer of life and quite witty..... thus I imagine this book will be a must have for everyone in the real estate industry.

Many Real Estate books fall short (well, the same is true for books on many topics!). REAL goes beyond mere tactics and strategies to focus on the core of what really matters - You. They have featured stories from Real Estate's Thought Leaders including Marc Davison, Spencer Rascoff, Sherry Chris, Krisstina Wise and many more. If building a real estate business that lasts is important to you - this is a book to buy, read, and implement.

I know Lani (and her husband Ben) from being involved in and around the Austin business entrepreneurial community.  They are cool people who contribute to interesting conversations and help connect people.  Together they started "The BASHH" (Big Ass Social Happy Hour), a monthly gathering in Austin, Texas that brings together those who may only know each other online and gets them into the same room to network.  I am happy they are my friends, and I can honestly say I wish I hung around them more often.

She also gave one of the best Ignite Austin talks several years ago titled "The Etymology of Curse Words".  It is worth popping over to YouTube to watch the very clever 4.5 minutes. It is funny! (I miss Ignite Austin.... it only happened a few times... but was always a cool event).

Congrats to Lani Rosales on her new book.  Very cool stuff.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - J is for Join

You cannot market a professional services career from behind closed doors.  Lawyers are not commodity widgets, and cannot be sold as such.  Thinking that being in your office doing great work for clients will build a sustainable book of business is short sighted.  Oh, and it wont work.

As an attorney YOU are the product.  People want to do business with those they now like and trust, and while tangible items can be sold without any personal human-to-human connections, a professional service often requires the person who performs the work to be engaged in their community.

A mistake made by many firms is that they join nothing or they join everything.  Besides, the firms is not what needs to join, it is the individual lawyers.  

If you join nothing you fall back into the "out of sight is out of mind" situation.  Those who are engaged in a community expect others to also have connections into the larger ecosystem.  However, joining everything means you most likely do not participate properly in any one thing.

When I suggest people "join" organizations I make sure they realize that the commitment goes beyond paying the annual membership dues if they expect their money to be well spent.   Joining alone gets your name in the directory, but most of the time that is useless.  To find the value in joining a civic, business, philanthropic or social organization you must be involved.

Being involved means showing up and serving.  When someone belongs to too many groups they end up doing "drop in networking", which means they drop in a couple of times a year when their schedule allows.  However it takes time for people to notice you, much less establish any long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.  I believe it can take as many as seven to ten times of showing up at events before the other members begin to feel you are part of their crowd.  Since most of these organizations meet only once a month, that means it will take participating for nearly a year before you will begin to grow connections.  If you only go twice, you will never establish real bonds with people.

Choosing which groups to support is key.  There is not one magic club that will feed a pipeline of referrals over a lifetime.  Each person, firm and practice area have differing needs.  

I recommend lawyers find two or three organizations that whey will be dedicated to joining and in which they are committed to participate.  You can belong to more and drop in on those as appropriate, but your main groups get an "A-level" commitment.  This means you treat these meetings on par with appointments with your top clients.  

What you prioritize is a choice that you make.  Do not fall into the trap of rationalization about networking vs. client work.  When you have two meetings a month you MUST attend, then you can find a way to adapt your schedule.

Within these prioritized groups you should be volunteering to serve on committees or on the board of directors.  It is when you work together with others that you build your reputation and cultivate friendships.  But be careful, if you commit and then drop the ball you will damage the way people view your work ethic.  Blowing off a committee meeting because you are busy tells the other members of the group they are not important to you.  If they found a way to be present at the meeting, you should as well.  Everyone is busy and everyone has other commitments. (There are exceptions, but exceptions that happen every time are not exceptions, they are the norm).

Find organizations that are appealing to your clients, prospects and referral sources.  Bringing others along to meetings is a great way to forge deeper friendships.  Your participation can be the conduit for hosting others from time to time.

If you get a lot of referrals from other lawyers then bar groups (or other legal based organizations) are a great idea.  If you do not see any business from other attorneys then these are a valuable use of your time.  You can still choose to volunteer for your Bar activities, but do not pretend it is marketing your practice.

Social, civic, and philanthropic organizations are also a great way to meet and establish connections with others in your local business community.  Only join groups that have a purpose that matches your interests.  Do not join the young professionals group at your city's symphony or ballet if you do not enjoy music and dance.  Joining because there is "good networking opportunities" will not keep you as motivated over the long run, and you will not participate often enough to have an impact (plus when you hate being there, others can tell).

As you interact with clients (and others), ask them what they are involved with in you local area and beyond.  This is a great way to learn about all sorts of business, social and philanthropic groups in your community.  You may be surprised by all the great options you have to be involved.  Visit the ones that sound interesting to insure the culture of the group is a match with your own personality.

Remember that the pay-off from joining groups comes from the time and energy that you invest in your participation.  Many mistakenly think that there is no value from being involved in their community because they have never really been involved.  Sending a check might seem like "joining"... but it is not.  Those who are engaged will discover amazing opportunities over the long run.

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 www.ThomSinger.com.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The ABC's of Legal Marketing - I is for Interesting

Marketing is there to help you be noticed by those who could hire you or refer your services to others.  Out of sight is out of mind, and in the highly competitive legal marketplace there are many choices.  When potential clients seek your services you need for them to find you interesting.

Too many lawyers and law firms avoid standing out from others.  They create simple marketing materials and ads that will not look unique, as they do not want to rock the boat within the legal profession.  This ensures that much of the marketing we see for law firms looks like the marketing of every other attorney.  While I am not advocating being outrageous or weird, there is nothing gained from intentionally positioning yourself as a boring commodity.

Be interesting.  Boring is safe, but it is also ignored.

What does it mean to "be interesting"?  This is difficult define as it will be different for each person, practice group, and firm.  To be successful your marketing should allow your own unique experiences (including hobbies and personal life) to be part of what you show to the world. This does not mean a trial attorney should feature his or her herb garden in their marketing, but being true to self is very important.  

Exposing your personality allows others to get to know the whole person, and people want to do business with people whom they like.  Nobody can feel anything about you without an honest connection.  

Some successful lawyers will argue this point, believing that attorneys should only show their professional expertise and remain above exposing anything personal.  But others will have found success by exposing their personality and personal lives to their community.  In all businesses people usually choose to do business with people they know, like and trust.  The practice of law is not different.  Law is a highly interactive industry, and the people you encounter in your career can have a material impact on your future success.

Being interesting also means being able to converse about topics beyond your practice of law when in professional and social situations.  If all you can do is discuss business, you will miss the chances to create bonds with others.  Keep up with the news, current affairs, sports, business, and pop culture.  These topics come up often in conversation, and if you are unsure of who won the Masters (or what it is), which companies in your community are poised for IPOs, or the latest antics of a popular celebrity, you are not part of the discussion.  The advice to know pop-culture references often gets push-back, but pay attention to how often people talk about Brad Pitt or Kim Kardashian in places you do business (it happens more often than you think!).

In addition to being interesting, you need to be interested in others.  Do not always try to put the attention on yourself. Take the time to learn about the whole lives of your clients, co-workers and others in your community.  When you take an interest in what is important to other people, they will pay more attention to you.  People do not care about you until they believe you know and care about them.  

The personal side of conversing with others can be your key to winning more business.  In all situations be sure you are interesting and interested.

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 www.ThomSinger.com.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Cool Things My Friends Do - Barracuda Networks IPO

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

This week the Campbell, California based Barracuda Networks (CUDA) went public on the NYSE, raising $74 million in their initial public offering.  I caught the story while skimming the news on Wednesday and knew that this had to be the "Cool Things My Friends Do" blog post this week.  

One of the company's co-founders, and CMO, is a childhood friend.  Michael Perone and I grew up on the same street when we were kids (ages 5 - 12.  I moved in junior high).  When I remember those early days it always includes the kids on that block...especially Mike.  There were about six or seven kids who were close in age, and we spent a lot of time running free in the neighborhood. Sometimes we were best buddies, other times we were not, but I have only great memories of my days living on that street.

Mike is a smart guy who was into technology at an early age.  I saw my first computer at his house in about 1979.  We would have been about 12 years old, and he had a computer in his bedroom.  While that is common today, it was certainly not in the 1970s.  He was destined for growing a tech company from the start.

I have not remained close with Mike over the years, but I have watched the success of his company.  He and his co-founders were the 2007 Northern California winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and the company and its products have been praised in tech circles for nearly a decade.  As CMO he has done a great job, as Barracuda Networks does a fantastic job of being visible and growing their revenues year over year.

Earlier this year I met with him at his office for coffee while I was in the Bay Area.  I got to tour the company's headquarters and see the cool things they are doing.  My impression is that Barracuda Networks is a great place to be for those who work there.  It was nice to catch up with Mike, and I was very happy to see an old friend achieve so much.

Congratulations to Mike Perone and his team at Barracuda Networks.  It is not everyday that someone sees and old friend ringing the bell at the NYSE.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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 www.ThomSinger.com.