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The Big 3 (brand, business & leadership) Blog

Cross-selling made as simple as burgers and fries

The best-known example of cross-selling is the inevitable question arising upon ordering a cheeseburger: ('Do you want fries with that?') For us, as lawyers, it’s really just that simple, but we must remember to first ask our clients whether they’re interested in that extra service, which means we must start out by genuinely collaborating with our colleagues to understand their practice areas and how they synergize with ours.

Ideally, your cross-sell practice area should be less complex and more straightforward than the original service offered, and also something entailing a “quick buying” decision. The more complex the service and the longer you need to take in order to explain it, the more difficult (and stand-alone) the service will seem.

When pitching to a client, draw out their other problem areas and later bring the conversation back to those points, demonstrating the expertise you have to fix them.

Important notes on cross-selling:

1. Don’t do it if you don’t really have the expertise (otherwise it could dilute your main offering). Bizarre as it seems, clients trust you more once you admit what you can’t do.

2. Cross-selling is not about manipulating clients to buy more services. It’s about genuinely fulfilling a need.

3. If done appropriately, clients will appreciate your effort, as it makes their lives easier.

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Don't be shortsighted about networking

This morning I gave a talk to the Association of Women Solicitors about personal branding (around the format of a networking breakfast). It was a well-attended event composed mainly of senior private practice women working in the City. Yet afterwards I found myself considering those invitees who chose not to come (no one being hugely specific as to whom they might be). I asked myself, “Did they stay home because, as fellow private practice lawyers, they felt that their networking opportunities were limited?” and: “Had they had thought General Counsels or other potential clients had been there, would they have come?”

Knowing my fellow lawyers (and myself, when practicing, as well!), I suspected that the answer to these questions was probably “Yes”—for most of the no-shows, at least. But I still thought them very shortsighted, for the obvious, but sometimes forgotten reasons:

1. Networking is not about attending a single event and meeting a new client—it’s about making new connections and creating opportunities to build relationships.

2. Just because someone you meet isn’t a potential client (and could even be a competitor), you never know where he or she might end up.

3. Networking is a long-term endeavor, where you need to build your connections one meeting at a time.

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Self-awareness is THE key towards developing leadership potential

self awarenessI came across this quote this morning:

"Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, 
like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming."

—Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, author, and speaker

Personally, I agree with this statement, especially in the context of developing as a leader, but before any of us can begin working on ourselves, we have to gain some self-awareness and do a little self-analysis. The sad truth is that if we delay this process, we may never know how our behavior could be holding us back. Thousands of able, ambitious and even brilliant lawyers have failed to reach their goals simply because of a lack of self-awareness.

I once worked with a hugely gifted colleague, who was widely respected except for one thing: Everything that came out of her mouth contained the subtext: “See how clever I am!” She desperately needed applause and admiration, and if such was not forthcoming she generously took it upon herself to remedy the omission. On every subject she was the self-appointed instant expert, and if a colleague so much as touched on a legal problem, she immediately stuffed her personal solution down his throat. She was (and remains) a remarkable technical lawyer, but she could never grasp the negative impact she had on people—despite being repeatedly warned by her superiors. She has lost promotions and business because she has refused to accept the fact that her attitude is impeding her career.

Deciding not to change is always possible, of course, as long as you’ve stepped back and acknowledged what it might cost you. But if you hope to develop yourself, you need to do self-analysis on a serious basis, making changes when and where appropriate. This is especially true if you have aspirations of leadership because leaders are by nature self-aware.

So, what are they self-aware about?

Personality. Leaders understand their own behavior patterns and personality traits. Without thoroughly understanding yourself, you have very little chance of analyzing and improving your interactions with others.

Emotions. Similarly, leaders make their emotions work for them. As a leader you must maintain control over your feelings and impulses, ensuring that they support, rather than undermine, your objectives.

Strengths and weaknesses. (This one’s obvious!) Leaders use and take advantage of their strengths while working on their weaknesses.

Motivators. Leaders know what really matters to them and use that understanding to drive their behavior. Working in alignment with your inner motivators (your core needs and values) conveys consistency, commitment, and passion, which are key in influencing others toward your vision.

Thinking. Leaders realize that their attitudes can make the difference between success and failure, so they monitor their thoughts and their self-talk to support their goals.

To be a leader you must have sufficient humility to ask yourself on a consistent basis how you are doing. Still better, ask others—your trusted friends, colleagues, and family. Then your task is to use the feedback you receive to identify problems that you need to address and occasions when you may be sending out wrong signals to clients and colleagues. Remember, everyone has blind spots . . . The difference is that leaders discover and address them; never letting their weaknesses impede their progress.

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Is that criticism necessary?

criticismHaving dinner last night in a restaurant, on my way to the ladies room, I heard the manager criticize one of the waiters (obviously oblivious to me being behind them). The criticism was anything but beneficial, and, in fact, was just de-motivating, and only served to make the waiter angry.

So often, people are really good at criticizing, and in most cases it’s not usually very helpful. Redirection is so much different (and better!) than criticism: Here’s something that has happened, here’s how it has impacted things, here’s what would really help next time, and I’m still pleased with the overall job you’re doing. That’s actually helpful feedback.

On the flip side, there’s also a positive way to receive criticism—which this particular waiter was not doing. The best response to any kind of criticism is this: “Tell me more. Is there anyone else I should talk to? Oh, this is so helpful. Thank you.” By not getting defensive, you avoid getting your ego in the way—and you’ll usually blow your criticizer’s mind! He or she won't know how to respond.

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