As I have mentioned in past articles, it is critical that you start marketing early in your career. I kick myself all the time about how I started marketing so late in the game and how much more I could have accomplished had I started at an earlier stage in my career. But of course I had no idea what to do — I needed training and was too dumb to even know that I needed training. Alas…. In any case, I have made it a mission of mine to teach others about what I have learned over the years.
For associates, you are working long hours and focusing on doing the best legal work, and so marketing may get pushed to the side, but I urge you to make it a focus at a very early part of your career and “define your job” as including marketing a component. And it is a lot easier than you might think.
There are many marketing resources that you can use and I have written about a lot of them. However, it is possible that some of the best resources are sitting just down the hall or even in the next office. Those resources are the senior partners you work with.
Many partners have gotten their clients and built their network through various marketing tactics and younger attorneys can learn a lot from them.
So here are a few simple and straightforward ways that associates can get marketing help from friendly Senior Partners:
1. Pick Their Brains — You should be asking the partners you work with as many marketing questions as you can. Let them know you are interested in learning how they got to where they are in their career. Maybe you could even take a partner out for coffee. I have learned that most people would like to be helpful and who doesn’t like to tell people about their accomplishments.
2. Ask Partners to Host a Marketing Seminar — At my firm, we regularly have partners speak to the associates about what marketing initiatives succeeded, but maybe even more importantly, what initiatives just plain failed. Indeed, it is very important to not only talk about successes, but to also mention that failure is common and indeed more likely than not for even the highest quality rainmakers. If this takes the format of a seminar — with multiple senior partners speaking — you can hear from a number of people with different personalities and ideas and see how they approach certain situations with prospects. Even just hearing marketing stories can give you ideas. And I promise — absolutely promise — you will be amazed at how just about all the senior partners have completely different and divergent views about what does and doesn’t work.
3. Tag Along — Ask partners if you can sit it on marketing calls or meetings — especially evening events. Indeed, there is no better learning tool than to see a master in action. Also, to convince a partner to bring “a young whippersnapper along,” you could make the point to the partner that clients often like to see, and get to know, the associate who will work on their matters.
4. Go Whole Hog — Ok, go right on into a senior partner who is a rainmaker and ask her if you could be her mentee. A lot of us senior partners are kind of, well, flattered, and it makes us feel good to take a young attorney on as someone to show the ropes to. I know I feel that way if someone asks me for help.
5. Make it Clear That Marketing is in Your Blood — If a senior partner knows that Toby (the associate) is hugely “into” marketing, the senior partner just wants to have Toby around for marketing things. Good things just start to happen without anyone making any particular plan. Toby just learns a lot and becomes a key player without doing or asking for any of the foregoing things.