Growing up the daughter of a hard-working Iowa farmer, I learned from an early age the core values on which farmers build their business. Taking those values to heart, I have been able to grow steadily—from hanging my shingle in 2009 to a firm of approximately sixty people. The last nine years have been a mix of exhausting hours, endless growth, big wins, and a myriad of little everyday victories. Looking back, I’d like to share with you the three biggest keys which have allowed me to open offices in three states.
Never Stop Networking
A ubiquitous scene in small town America is the table of local farmers gathered together at a diner or gas station for their morning coffee. Of course, they discuss the crops and forecast, but they also ask about each other’s grand babies and vacation plans. They are networking in the simplest and most straightforward fashion. Lawyers can learn a lot from this.
An easy way to ensure you are making the time to meet with the movers and shakers in your area is to never eat (or drink coffee or attend a social event) alone. Look through your recent emails or think back on the last networking event you attended, find a contact you’d like to get to know better, and invite them to lunch, a quick coffee, or to the baseball game outing your firm is hosting. Mindfully using time that would otherwise be spent checking your email can lead you to your next client or referral source.
WOW Your Way to More Work
While travelers may think the endless emerald of the corn fields is lovely as they drive through Iowa in June, farmers know that each field has its own potential and problems. The same can be said about potential clients and referral sources.
Take the opportunity to truly listen to what your client is saying the next time you meet with them. Maybe he’s running late because he had to run his son to a soccer match. Perhaps she’s quietly proud of the new Tory Burch bag she’s toting. If you can pick up on subtleties and hear the details of their response to “How are you?”, you can find ways to make “WOW” moments. Sending the soccer dad a new ball for his striker will mean much more than a standard “Nice to see you” email. Don’t forget that information or a connection can be equally impressive. If Ms. Burch Bag mentioned she’s been trying to meet a local business owner for weeks, offer to make a warm introduction. Anything that furthers your client’s business can help yours in the long run!
Make Your Own Luck
Farmers wish they could make it rain—literally; attorneys seek to make rain in business by making a lot of deals happen. I’ve found two key characteristics that every rainmaker possesses: confidence and the ability to identify the true needs of others.
Many women today struggle with confidence and self esteem, but our personal health affects how well we perform as attorneys. Consider self care an investment in your long-term personal and career health. When you feel good about yourself, you radiate confidence and stand out from the crowd. Whether you choose to wear a fire engine red blazer among a sea of black and navy, or take the lead in a group conversation, your confidence will get you noticed in a good way.
Once you have the client list, how do you capitalize on it? Anticipating the needs of your client is the best way to ensure repeat business. Assuming your firm handles multiple practice areas, an easy way to do this is to cross-sell. If a new client comes to you to sell their million-dollar business, a natural next step is to ask about their estate plan. If the wrongful termination suit that comes in your door is due to poor handbook policies, offer to rewrite those sections. And if you work at a boutique firm or do not handle that particular area of the law, be sure you have referrals at your fingertips. A successful referral means both the client and the attorney you referred them to will speak highly of you at the next opportunity.
Growing up a farmer’s daughter, I learned first-hand the concept of “you reap what you sow.” The hard work put into networking, building key relationships, and rainmaking will pay dividends in great and unexpected ways. I hope you’ll use these tips to grow your business.
Jeana Goosmann is the founder and managing partner of Goosmann Law Firm.