How to Have Coffee (stupid, right?)


How to Have Coffee - Legal MarketingI struggled with the title to this post, I really did.  Marketing for lawyers is a complex topic so I thought about clever puns, and some kind of catch phrase, but I ended with a straightforward question – how to have coffee.

It is a confronting thing for many people to be sitting across from another person, one to one, with a view to discussing personal life, business, the law, and how you can offer the services of your firm to that person some more.  This is the reality of marketing for lawyers, however, and getting good at it will change the way you practice completely.

All in 15 minutes or so, which is about what I expect will have been allocated.

And so the question is how you might go about capitalising on your 15 minute window once you have set up a coffee with someone.  Today I’m going to explore this situation for you and see how we might be able to ensure that you come away feeling like you’ve done something beyond just having a coffee.

Marketing for Lawyers 101 – Relationship

Marketing for lawyers is about relationship, remember?  I’ve written before about it’s partly just about being friendly.  So if you’re fortunate to have arranged a coffee with someone you basically don’t know at all, then your 15 minutes is devoted to finding out as much about that person as you can and trying to extend and develop that relationship.

Your questions should be designed to encourage easy discussion, friendly interaction, and leave the person feeling like they have had a wonderful time (a note here, research generally shows that most people feel more positive about a meeting if they have spent most of the time talking, rather than you).

Know as much about the person as you can before you get in, and then use that information to help the conversation.  “So, I saw that you tweeted about [topic X] recently, what do you think about what [person Y] said about it?]”.  Don’t freak them out by stalking them…. if you already know everything about them it’s a bit weird.

Aside from the fact that knowledge is still power, it’s quite straightforward that the more you know about the person the better you can relate to them.  However, further, the more tendrils of connection they will feel with you the more you discuss with them topics that interest them.  Use your 15 minutes to discuss things that will build those tendrils in number and strength.

What About If you Know Them Already?

If you’ve already got some runs on the board when it comes to relationship, then the next phase can be challenging.  You are always looking to continue relationship building, but there will come a time where you might want to start talking about business.  What are they up to?  Identify opportunities and don’t be afraid to indicate you can help is required.  Sometimes you might be able to find out who your competition is in the space, and get a bit of inside knowledge about how this person decides what lawyer they will or won’t use.

Can you Help Them?

It can be difficult, but look for opportunities to help out the other party.  Can you arrange a meeting with somebody who can help them out, can you send them some work, can you introduce them to relevant people or invite them to industry events?  These things are part of the generous approach to marketing for lawyers – you give, before you receive.  In doing so you are, of course, creating a groundwork where that generosity can be reciprocated in time.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Once you have the relationship itself sufficiently advanced, don’t be afraid to ask – is there any work you guys can send our way?  If not, why not?  What are the barriers to us helping you out in legal matters.  Is there anyone else I should meet up with?  Because marketing for lawyers is about relationship – make sure that you have the necessary relationship before you ask, but once you do why fear it?

Leave When It’s Over

Don’t drag out the meeting unnecessarily.  If the conversation is flowing nicely, then feel free to stick with it.  But when you’re done – leave.  Just say “well it was nice to catch up”, stand up, and get out of there.  If you leave an otherwise pleasant meeting with an awkward ending what do you think they will remember?  Unfortunately, it’s the awkward end, not the rest.  So end on a high, leave a positive, and ensure that the last experience of the meeting doesn’t leave a sour taste in their mouth.

That’s my quick guide on having coffee AKA – Marketing for Lawyers (now with added caffeine).

Happy Lawyering!