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October 19, 2005

Why many lawyers waste their time giving speeches

When lawyers start to think about putting more effort into marketing, one of the first things they often try is giving speeches. Many put in an enormous amount of effort over months or years, see no results, and give up.

But some lawyers have great success generating new business from speeches. What are they doing differently?

The key to success is follow-up. Speakers need to collect emails and phone numbers at every event, divide them into short-term and long-term prospects, and then follow up with each and every one of them.

Ideally, follow-up techniques should feel natural to both speaker and participant, and maximize the benefit to both.

For example, when I give my Rainmaker Workshops, I hand out a form for people who want a follow-up phone call or email to improve the action plan they create in class. It’s optional because that makes it easy to identify the people who want help and are most interested in using the process.

Another example: At my next two convention presentations (at the ISA Sales and Marketing Conference October 28, and at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Insurance Agents Association November 14), I’ll be trying out a new technique to collect the business cards of potential clients. In both talks, I’ll explain how to increase sales productivity by applying 26 principles from ad campaigns. I’ve had high quality plastic wallet cards printed up listing the 26 principles, and I’ll offer a free card to anyone who gives me their business card. Those are the long term prospects, who will be added to the mailing list for my newsletter.

At the same talks, whenever I get a chance to chat with someone who seems interested in the approach, I’ll ask for a business card and jot a note on the back about what we said. Then I’ll try to find a reason to follow up within two days, to get a meeting and to advance the relationship. The key is that two day time frame. If I wait a week, the speech will feel like ancient history.

Of course lack of follow-up is not the only reason that speeches fail to bring in new business. If the speech is terrible, no one will want to hire you. And you won’t sell anything if your audience consists only of competitors. But once you’ve covered the basics, follow-up is the key to success.

It can take a lot of work to come up with specific ideas for follow-up that feel natural for your audience and presentation, but it’s worth it. The first step in a new relationship is always the hardest, and speeches are a great way to find new people and take that first step.

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