This post was originally a private resource to compliment a 2015 keynote I gave to help lawyers practice law, embrace mobile tech, and show their human side. I’ve updated the page and resources so that it hopefully makes sense for those of you who were not in the audience.
Having quality professional relationships will help you successfully practice law. Productive and meaningful relationships will also make your life more enjoyable.
The problem is that in today’s fast paced world, time and attention spans are limited. There’s more “noise” than ever and how people are communicating and building relationships is changing at an exponential rate.
If you don’t have the proper mindset and are not using technology the right way to improve existing relationships and build new ones, you may end up being a digital wallflower offering little value to the conversation. Let’s not let that happen.
Example: After the Collision, My Client’s Pelvic Bone Looked Like it Was Smashed by a Sledge Hammer!
A few years ago a new client was referred to us by someone who followed me on Facebook and Instagram. This client was a negligent free passenger who had her hip and pelvic bone crushed as a result of a major automobile collision.
She had already hired a lawyer but was having difficulty communicating with him. He only used the telephone and she only used text messages. After two short weeks, the relationship deteriorated to the point that this client was now sitting in my office asking for help and begging me to take over her case.
Before agreeing to represent this young lady, I contacted her prior attorney to see if I could help mend the relationship. He told me she was impossible to deal with and apparently didn’t know what a telephone was. He said that if I was interested in taking over the file then go for it. It was all mine!
I liked this young lady and thought I could help. After we were retained, I asked the client how she would like me to communicate with her? Based upon her answer and for the next 8 months, we almost exclusively communicated via text messages and DM on Twitter. The experience was simple and worked very well. The case was eventually settled for a seven figure policy limit and the client was happy with the relationship we built and our services. She has since referred several new clients to our firm. When it comes to using tech to provide better servicer, I can share dozens of similar experiences.
A Modern Dilemma
It’s now harder than ever to get someone’s attention. There’s not only a great deal of noise, there’s also a large amount of high quality content out there. In her book, “Standout- How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It”, Dorie Clark points out that 1.4 million books were published in 2013 and more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute. Each day 500 million new tweets are shared. With this in mind Dorie shares ideas about how you can standout in today’s world.
At one time all it really took to get noticed was to produce great content (blog posts, videos, podcasts…) and then share your amazing content in right context. Today, I think this is the norm. It takes much more to get noticed and connect with others.
According to Mark Schaefer in his book, “The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing and your business” you now need to ignite your content to stand out from the crowd. You need to add your own personal flare or art to how you communicate with others.
How do you do this? Well, I would suggest letting your freak flag fly high. In his book, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators,” NY Times best selling author and well known business coach and blogger, Chris Brogan, shows you how to do just that. Chris empowers you to be yourself and shows you why doing so will help with your long-term success.
So what’s the best way to use technology to communicate and build relationships with your clients?
The answer is really pretty simple and is as follows: Ask them how they would like you to communicate with them.
When you meet someone whether it’s in your office, out on the golf course or floating 100 meters offshore waiting for the next set of waves while surfing, ask the other person how would he or she like to stay in touch? Let them know that the telephone, email, text or private messaging all will work just fine. Give the other person, especially when it comes to clients, multiple options.
When asked, let them know you offer a private 24/7 online portal that they can use, at their convenience any time during the night or day, from any type of device, to get case updates and communicate with your office. Take the initiative and find out how the other person would like to connect and then make it happen. It’s not hard to do but the fact of the matter is that most lawyers and business owners will not take the time to do this. Now you will.
The Client Experience is Everything
The takeaway is to understand and appreciate that it’s all about satisfying the client’s needs, wants and desires. This is usually not difficult to do. Often times it’s simply having to a slightly new mindset to get this done. Go about things the right way and you may even find yourself having fun in the process.
In his book, “What’s the Future of Business- Changing the way businesses create experiences”, author and marketing consultant Brian Solis points out that in today’s world, engagement, relationships and the client experience is everything. Brian suggests that shared experiences with customers and clients will dictate the long-term success of your business.
I believe Brian argues that we are all now Generation D (the digital generation) and as such, share in common the elements of empathy and a desire for shared experiences. Doing this and communicating on the platforms your clients or potential clients use is key to this type of effective sharing and relationship building.
Taking these factors into consideration, I too believe that everything we do should be premised upon creating an exemplary client experience. This applies to both existing and potential clients. This especially applies when building relationships.
An exponential seismic shift in human behavior is taking placer because of mobile technology. Social, the cloud and mobile are connecting all of us unlike never before and reshaping how we communicate, build rapport and new relationships.
Because of human behavior, with this change comes doubt, inconvenience and even a bit of fear. For those who get it, this change brings massive opportunity and the ability to connect, standout and build new relationships.
One of my goals with this presentation is to have you walk away thinking a different way than all the other lawyers in town. I want you to be unique, fly your legal freak flag, and not be afraid to show your human side, using the digital platforms.
I want you to be the lawyer who appreciates the power of using radically changing technology to transform your firm, services, and relationships. I want you to be the lawyer who is a nimble and resilient innovator willing to learn and use changing technologies and social norms to be unique. I want you to adopt moonshot thinking to sidestep legal extinction and become a leader in the exponential legal relationship revolution.
Why Mobile Technology?
Everything I talked about in my keynote and referenced in this post revolves around mobile tech. Why? Because it’s important to consider the fact that there are more mobile phones on the planet than there are people. Fast mobile networks are now available to more than 90 percent of the world’s population.
Mobile is the consumer platform of choice and powering a fundamental shift in the way consumers shop, live, and communicate with each other. Mobile has also changed how consumers find lawyers and how they can communicate with each other. We’re living in a new period of global change where high-performance smartphone computing is abundant, reliable, affordable and even expected by consumers.
Where is your smartphone? Is it right next to you? Are you using it to read this blog post? Did you have it with you during my presentation?
Here are some eye-opening 2015 statistics that you may not be aware of:
- A majority of Americans own a smartphone with 83% of them reporting their phone is always within reach;
- More people have access to mobile phones than they do to toothbrushes;
- More people have access to mobile phones than to working toilets;
- A woman who lives in Outer Mongolia using a smartphone is using a device a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful than a supercomputer from the 1970s;
- A Masai warrior in Kenya has at his fingertips access to more information than the president of the United States during the early 1990s;
- Today, the computing speed of a smartphone user in the middle of Mumbai is faster that what the US government had during the 1960s and 1970s;
- In today’s smartphones you have an assortment of applications that once had a combined cost of over $900,000. Why is this important? Because the once high cost barrier to leading edge client service has all but been eliminated;
- Every human on earth will soon have free or ultra-low-cost internet access. Google and Facebook are in a race and will be spending billions of dollars to design, build and launch drones, balloons, and satellites capable of providing this service on a global level;
- Just this past month I read about Nokia Networks developing an amazing 5G cellular technology that will be 10 times faster than Google Fiber and 40 times faster than 4G. According to Nokia, the network will deliver peak speeds of 10 Gigabits per second, fast enough to download a full-length HD movie to your smartphone in just seconds. Imagine being able to stream an “8K” video in 3-D (twice as clear as 4K video and 16 times clearer than full HD video);
- Change happens. Smart people and companies appreciate and anticipate for this. If you compare the Fortune 500 list from 2000 with the Fortune 500 a decade later, you would see that 40% of the companies on the 2000 list are no longer around. Because of exponential change, this is expected to happen again with 40% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 2020 being just an “idea”in 2013.
Read these bullet points again. Now think about how you can tap into this new reality to do things differently to build new relationships and expand your practice and services.
Why Social Skills are So Important Today
According to author and speaker Sally Hogshead in her book “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation”, today’s consumer has the attention span of a gold fish (just 9 seconds). If you expect to develop rapport, trust and relations with consumers, you need to learn how to do so in 9 seconds or less and you need to do this correctly on the proper platforms.
Communicating with your clients the right way and on the right platform will help you avoid becoming an obsolete. Connecting with people the way they want to connect will help eliminate this 9 second barrier and allow for meaningful relationships to get off on the right foot.
M&Ms are no longer the popular business candy. I’m not talking about those colorful round treats that melt in your mouth and not in your hands. I’m talking about “Meetings and Managers”.
Today’s smart business owners understand the concept of “paralysis through analysis” and avoid unnecessary business meetings and bureaucratic old school management protocol. Things have to happen quickly without wasting everyone’s time and attention. New tech resources like mobile video conferencing (BlueJeans, BeLive) allow you to do just that. Cloud based services like Basecamp and Slack compliment this approach.
Sure, face to face meetings and people skills are still very important. Having said that, respecting other people’s limited time and preferences are just as important when it comes to relationship building.
One of the best people skills book I’ve ever read is by Bob Burg and titled, “Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion.” Bob’s book is so good that I will not agree to mentor a young trial lawyer until he or she has read it. You can know the evidence code, civil or criminal procedure, and rules of court, but unless you’ve got good people skills you’ll never experience consistent success with a judge or jury. Add the mobile digital solutions and approaches I mentioned during my keynote and reference here, and the importance of having and using good people skills is amplified.
Human Communication is Constantly Changing
Look back in time. In the very beginning, human beings started communicating by sharing sounds, and then primitive language. Petroglyphs—drawings on rock walls—began to appear during the Neolithic and late Upper Paleolithic boundary about 10,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Around 1439, Gutenberg began using movable type printing. The way humans recorded and shared their thoughts and communicated with each other forever changed. The communication evolution continued from the printing press to Pony Express, telegraph, US Post Office, telephone, television and facsimile to today’s digital platforms via the Internet.
Despite all this change, David Meerman Scott in his book, “New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business” reminds all of us that when it comes to communicating and engaging others, we’re still sitting around campfires except this time they’re digital campfires. When communicating with clients, today more than ever we need to tell stories just our grandparents did when sitting at the local coffee shop with friends. The only difference is today these stories are being told on social, live video and using VR.
The fact of the matter is that the Internet has fundamentally changed the pace of business, compressing time and rewarding speed. As I mentioned above, mobile technology is the vehicle supporting this exponential change. This is especially true for lawyers with much more change ahead. In her two books, “The Naked Lawyer” and “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful, 2015 to 2045”, UK based lawyer, Chrissie Lightfoot, does a good job of sharing just what the future may have in store for all of us.
We’ve covered a great deal during today’s presentation so right now I’d like to ask you to do something for me. Please put your smartphone down, take a step back and take a deep breath. Think about this for a moment:
There really is no secret sauce to building great client relationships. The answer is to simply be human. It’s to communicate with your client the way they want to be communicated with and show that you care. Simple things that most lawyers will never make an effort to do. And that’s really sad when you think about it.
Because of today’s limited attention span and need for speed, it’s important for you to develop a real-time mindset when communicating and servicing your clients. Clients have more information and options than ever and if you’re not singing their song and sharing their dance moves, they’ll click away and find someone who is.
Because of how social media is perceived and has developed over the years, it is also critically important to understand this simple truth. Although it sounds counterintuitive, the fact of the matter is: You sell more of your services when you stop selling. Based upon everything we talked about, does that make sense?
Seven Principles To Help You Reach Superhuman Performance On Social Media
During the presentation I talked about an approach which evolved into a guest blog post at PureMatter and titled, Seven Principles To Help You Reach Superhuman Performance On Social Media. I highly recommend that you read and share this post with everyone in your firm. While I’m talking about PureMatter, make sure to get and ready CEO Bryan Kramer’s outstanding book, “Shareology: How Sharing Powers the Human Economy”.
These additional tips take what I shared during my keynote and add seven extremely important elements to help you be successful on social and digital. If you enjoyed my live presentation, then I think you’ll really enjoy this human to human (#H2H) approach. Please click here to read the post.
Justine Musk was married to Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO for eight years. She is the author of three fantasy novels and a TEDx speaker. Earlier this month, she answered the question on Quora: “How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?”
In her response she said:
“One reason they become the entrepreneurs they become is because they can’t or don’t or won’t fit into the structures and routines of corporate life,” she wrote. “They are dyslexic, they are autistic, they have ADD, they are square pegs in round holes, they piss people off, get into arguments, rock the boat, laugh in the face of paperwork.”
I hope that when you leave and think about today, the take-a-way for you is as follows:
Be different, embrace new mobile tech and understand the power of time, attention and community. If you want to build real relationships that will make a difference, change your practice and maybe even change the world, never be afraid to be a square peg in a round hole. Rock the boat and don’t be afraid to piss people off every now and then.
Enjoy the rest of the conference and when it’s all said and done, always remember to make each day your masterpiece!
More About Mitch
Mitch Jackson has been a trial lawyer for 30 years and is a 2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year (CLAY Award) and 2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year. When he’s not in court protecting his client’s rights, he uses social media and the digital platforms to help good attorneys become great trial lawyers and to show everyone (not just lawyers) how to communicate better.
Each week members of Mitch’s LegalMinds Mastermind dive deep into these concepts and more. Learn more at LegalMinds.lawyer