Archive for February, 2007

Call for Japan to Lift Restrictions on Foreign Lawyers

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

In Continue Lifting Foreign Restrictions, Ken Siegel, the managing partner of Morrison Foerster’s Tokyo office, describes the history of, and calls for Japan officials to lift further, the restrictions on foreign lawyers practicing in Japan. The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan published this article in its January newsletter, but check out its website for additional helpful advice on doing business in Japan.

Lawyers, Evaluate your Listening Skills

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Do you listen attentively to your clients and prospective clients?  If you’re not sure, read on for a listening assessment.

Listening to a client’s needs, and adapting client service (or a client service proposal) to meet those needs, is a key element of rainmaking success.  So, why don’t many lawyers  listen attentively to their clients?  Instead, many attorneys spend precious face time with current and prospective clients talking blindly about their law firm, their practice, and even (yawn) arcane points of law.

Imagine what would happen if the lawyer deeply listened to his/her client(s) and the needs being articulated.  Not only would the client feel valued, but also, the lawyer would be able to tailor his/her advice or pitch to respond specifically to the client’s needs–and that can lead to new business.

For international attorneys, attentive listening is especially crucial so that cultural nuances don’t get missed.

Ready to evaluate your listening skills?  Hill & Knowlton’s Client Service Insights blog just posted a Self Inventory of Listening Habits (as developed by Martin-Simonds Associates Management Consultants).  Take it and find out how attentive you are.

 Happy listening.

Five Networking Myths Debunked

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Listen to this short audio blog by Thom Singer (author of  Some Assembly Required:  How to Make, Grow and Keep your Business Relationships).  He quickly discusses–and debunks– five common networking myths.

Effective Networking by Lawyers Requires Customized Follow-up, Especially with Foreign Contacts

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Have you ever met someone briefly–perhaps at a big conference–and then received an impersonal form letter and brochure about that person’s business?  Perhaps the packet of information was of little interest (at best), or completely irrelevant to you and your law practice (at worst). 

Was this person’s follow-up effective?  No. 

Does this kind of impersonal follow- up “networking” happen a lot?  Yes.

Many lawyers are also guilty of this exact kind of marketing and networking:  delivering impersonal letters and firm brochures to random people that they meet.  It’s not effective, and it’s a waste of expensive firm marketing materials.  In fact, it often sends the opposite message:  the lawyer didn’t care enough to spend time personalizing the response.

So, what would be more effective? 

First, when you meet someone, try to be genuinely interested in that person. Try to gather some information about that person–not only their job title, but also the scope of their professional duties. Inquire about their activities, both professional and extra curricular. If you don’t have a good memory for those details, go to another room when your conversation ends and make a few notes.

Then, try to follow up with your new contact in a meaningful manner. If this person genuinly would like to know more about your firm, then do send them a law firm brochure. However, try to include additional information relevant to them, like articles pertinent to their legal issues or business.

Be sure and personalize your cover letter by referencing some of the details that you learned.  For example, you might add a sentence like, “I particularly enjoyed learning about your volunteer work for the International Red Cross because…”

Also, reference your connections with this person. For example, if you discovered that you both attended the same school or share a set of friends, refer to that common bond. 

In addition, offer to  connect them to a person, good or service that might help them.  This is particularly effective if it will NOT necessarily benefit you.  Doing so builds trust and rapport.  Helping other people (regardless of whether they are potential clients) in this way will set you apart from “self-interested networkers”. 

Finally, it’s especially critical to customize your follow-up with clients from other cultures. As I have noted often, relationships are highly prized in many foreign cultures–and are often a prerequisite to doing business. Just mailing a thick brochure doesn’t do much to develop that relationship. In contrast, following up with a potential client in a culturally meaningfully and appropriate way that builds a relationship can reap rewards. 

Caveat:  because business relationships in many foreign cultures are more formal than in the US, make sure that your follow-up isn’t overly familiar.  Do some homework first on what level of formality would be comfortable and culturally appropriate.