It’s the age-old question for lawyers: How and where will I find my next client?

Pressure to find your next source of income can be intense, which can result in fear-based, scattershot marketing – I’ll go to a bar association meeting, join a chamber of commerce, connect with a couple of people on LinkedIn – and hope for the best. The problem is that scattershot marketing is likely to be a waste of your time and effort, both of which are precious commodities for lawyers.

So what can you do to get more focused? How do you figure out which marketing activities are most likely to reach the people who need your services and are most likely to result in paying clients?

If you want to know where to focus your marketing efforts, a great place to start is in the past. In other words, what has worked so far? The answers are probably close at hand.

First, print out a list of your past and current clients and document where they came from.

Create source categories such as:

  • Referrals from past clients
  • Referrals from other lawyers
  • Referrals from your “natural” network (family, friends and acquaintances)
  • Speaking engagements
  • Volunteer organizations in which you are active (industry or charitable groups, for example)
  • People you know from your house of worship
  • Your website or blog
  • Advertising
  • Your books or articles

Where appropriate, break the categories down even further. If clients are coming to you because they heard you speak, for example, determine which speaking engagements are most successful for you. Are you teaching a CLE course that has other lawyers reaching out to you for help with their own clients? Or are you most successful when speaking to groups of small business owners who need just the type of legal expertise you provide?

Knowing how and where your clients and prospects are finding out about you helps you to determine how and where to focus your efforts.

A more refined analysis might distinguish between how many clients are coming from a particular source versus the dollar value of the engagements you are getting. You may be getting numerous clients with small matters from one source and a small number of significant matters from another. Perhaps you’ll identify the best source for the work you enjoy the most. It’s up to you to decide how much value each of those types of matters has for you and where you want to invest your time and efforts.

Now, identify your top 3 sources of business and figure out how to nurture relationships and grow your presence in that category.

Implement a New System, Starting Right Now

  • Ask every client and prospect who contacts your office where they heard about you and train your staff to do the same
  • Create a method to keep a detailed record of business sources
  • Choose the two or three sources you want to leverage and develop a plan for concentrating on business development from those sources
  • Every six months, analyze where your business is coming from to help you either stay on track or justify letting go of business development activities that aren’t delivering results

Looking to the past to see what has already worked need not prevent you from trying something new. But a calculated approach to leveraging existing resources will help you establish a solid foundation so that you feel more comfortable and confident when venturing into uncharted territory.

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