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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of July 15, 2014

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Be There or Be Square

The best way to differentiate yourself-in a good way-in today's social-media-and-computer-based world of communication is to establish an actual physical presence on which potential clients can base a hiring decision.

There is no better way to establish effective marketing relationships with prospective clients than by establishing a presence at their trade shows and association meetings. By properly researching and targeting events, a lawyer can meet more prospects in one day than might otherwise be possible in months. And being physically present at these meetings demonstrates knowledge of potential clients' business, understanding of their concerns, and seriousness about offering solutions.

Rainmakers use this kind of contact to begin an ongoing process of communication with clients or prospects to develop and expand a working relationship outside of the lawyer's own services. The lawyer doesn't have to maintain an exhibit booth but merely a presence at the event, mingling with people on the exhibit floor and at the show's events.

Don't confuse this kind of marketing with the ethically questionable "cold call." ABA Model Rule 7.3 prohibits "in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact [to] solicit professional employment from a prospective client" when the solicitation involves "coercion, duress or harassment" or when "a significant motive . . . is the lawyer's pecuniary gain."

In targeted marketing, such as visits to trade association meetings and conversations with prospective clients, the goal is not a series of "sales calls" on the prospect but the development of a broader relationship in which you highlight the ways in which you can meet the prospect's needs. You are creating a bond and demonstrating that you provide value.

This means an investment in time and expense, but it also means that your marketing is more likely to bear fruit. How you present yourself in terms of showing attention to and empathy with the prospect can be crucial to the information you elicit and the impression you leave-and the business you generate.

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