Archive for July, 2007

Building Rapport with Fellow Lawyers and Clients During Business Trips

Monday, July 16th, 2007

International business travel doesn’t have to be 100% business, as discussed by Owen Wild in a recent Inc.com post. Taking the time to see some sites (even if you have to tack on a day at the beginning or end) can make any business trip less burdensome.  When I practiced law, I tried to arrive at my destination in advance of my meetings–unless I attended a closing, in which case I tacked on a day at the end of the trip.

If you are traveling with colleagues and/or clients, use the trip to build rapport. Owen Wild notes, “working in a strange city can be a real team-building experience.” Realize that although you are probably very comfortable spending time in another culture,  the same may not be true of your colleagues and clients.  Use your international savvy to make their trip more comfortable, “translating” and managing cultural differences for them.  For example, prepare them in advance for any cultural nuances in negotiation styles that may occur during upcoming meetings.

Be sure to ease your clients’ and colleagues’ concerns with some cultural hand holding. After a day’s meetings, discuss the cultural differences over dinner. This will increase their comfort level, build rapport and again highlight your value as a culturally savvy attorney.

One Stop Shopping for Legal Marketing News

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Welcome LegalMarketingReader.com and its accompanying blog.  The site is designed to be “one stop shopping” for legal marketing news, compiling data about marketing events and various marketing blogs. Check out this new resource on the client marketing scene.

Defining and Communicating Your Personal Brand through Thought Leadership

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Frank Somerfield, President of Sommerfield Communications, Inc., described the importance of personal branding to me this way: 

“A dynamic professional services career – one that produces good results for clients and builds a firm – now needs three solid legs.  The first is, of course, quality work and commitment; the second is a broad, growing network of valuable contacts and informal advisors; the third is a personal brand.  An authentic brand grows out of one’s novel ideas, thought capital and perspective.  The challenge is to package those ideas – market them – so they’re seen as legitimate ‘thought leadership.’”

As Frank notes above, a powerful brand grows out of unique thoughts–in other words, thought leadership.

Thanks to their highly dynamic specialty, international lawyers encounter new trends; those that develop interesting perspectives on those trends are well poised to become known as thought leaders.  They key is to publicize those original observations as part of a good branding strategy.  Sometimes a good PR agency (like Sommerfield Comunications) is just what a lawyer needs to create this publicity. (Sommerfield Communications –a corporate communications firm and PR agency–specializes in business thought leadership.)

 Having original thoughts isn’t enough.  A lawyer must share his or her thought leadership to make an impact. If you need help sharing yours, call a pro like Frank.

 

When Clients Question Your Motives

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

For an interesting article discussing what to do if a potential or current client questions your motives, read David Maister’s thoughts on integrity impugned. 

Lawyers working across cultures should be prepared that such client may question you indirectly, depending on the cultural norms. So, pay attention lest such a client question  slip by unnoticed. 

If a client does question your motives, adapt the possible responses listed by Maister to make them culturally appropriate–softer and more indirect, for example. Or, as Maister suggests, ask the clients a few questions in return (again matching the client’s level of directness, pitch and tone) and try to figure out why.  

In the international arena, differences in communication style can create mistrust.  You may find that your direct, American approach has come across as too aggressive for the client’s taste, especially in cultures which value harmony.  Trust is the goal:  build it and maintain it for cross-cultural success.

Happy 4th of July–Wherever You Are

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Many international lawyers will be celebrating the 4th of July outside the United States–just as I am doing this year from Ireland. So, I wish all of you a happy 4th of July, wherever you may be!