Promote Your Mediation Business with Face-to-Face Networking
To promote your mediation business, you will need to do some face-to-face networking. To be successful, you need to know what your contacts value most in a mediator, prepare yourself with business cards and brochures, and know the best places to go to get connected.
Although online marketing is an absolute necessity in this day and age, mediation marketing is still primarily a flesh-pressing business, and the people whose flesh you need to press consist of clients, potential clients, and referral sources.
When parties seek to resolve their dispute through litigation and mediation, they usually consider the problem they’re facing right now one of the most difficult challenges they’ve ever had to deal with. And no matter how much the dispute seems to be only about money, personal issues of worthiness, fairness, trust, and reliability are so close to the surface you can see their periscopes.
Both parties want someone they can count on to resolve the dispute in a fair and equitable manner. They want the King Solomon of mediators — a highly competent individual with character and integrity.
Of course, to qualify for the job, you have to be that person. This isn’t something you can fake. Moreover, you must project those qualities in everything you do and through your marketing.
Produce business cards and brochures
Even in this age of paperless publishing, business cards and brochures are essential. When you meet someone, you need to be able to hand her something to remember you by that contains your contact information.
At the bare minimum, you should have a business card. You can create business cards yourself using a desktop publishing program and business card stock from your local business supply store, have them professionally designed and printed at your local copy shop, or order them online — check out the Moo website. Make sure the front of your business card contains the following details:
Your business name, if any, and your name
A professional photo of yourself so people can recognize you
Your title or what you offer, such as Mediator, ADR Services, Mediation, Training, and Consulting, and so on
Your phone number, fax number, and e-mail address
Your website and/or blog address
Use the back of the business card to add details about your education and experience. A brief bulleted list of your education and training along with three or four major accomplishments as a mediator should do the trick.
Give the people you meet a few business cards so they can hand them out without giving away the only card they have.
Brochures are a great tool for giving people even more information about what you do. Include the same information on your brochure as you have on your business card but add information about your education, experience, specializations, and the services you offer.
Brochures should also include testimonials from satisfied clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for these. Most people whom you help resolve a dispute are pretty darn grateful, and if you ask, they’ll gladly provide you with a blushingly flattering snippet of praise.
Strike up conversations
If you’re at an event or conference, pick out someone who’s clearly uncomfortable wading into the crowd. She hangs out in the corners with a drink in her hand. Walk up to her, extend your hand, and say, Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m feeling a little uncomfortable about plunging into the crowd right away myself. What do you do? or What brings you here?
Don’t start selling when you’re networking at an on the ground event. A good rule of thumb is to make the beginning and middle of the conversations about them, their business, and their concerns. Start with the usual small talk — traffic, weather, whatever — and then transition to an open-ended question like, How’s business?
If they’re shy, draw them out by sharing your own concerns. It’s been a tough year; I’ve been awfully surprised at how deep and long this recession has been and how much it has affected the legal market. How about you? People like people who like them. And to genuinely like another person, you have to get to know them. Be inquisitive and let your curiosity drive the conversation.
Make striking up conversations with people profitable to you. Whether you host networking events, provide in-house training, or speak at industry events, always have sign-up sheets available to capture the attendees’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
In addition to including these people in your database and tracking any business that comes your way as a result of these events, communicate regularly with your new contacts by way of your online or printed marketing materials.
If you speak or train, provide attendees with evaluation forms to get their feedback on your presentations. Improving your presentations is one of the best ways to improve your marketing.
Attend trade shows
If you specialize in a certain area, such as franchisee-franchisor disputes or the travel, recreation, automobile, or garment industries, attend trade shows to get better acquainted with your market and allow your market to become better acquainted with you and what you offer. When you hear about a trade show in your area of expertise, head to its registration website, research it, and, if it sounds interesting, register.
Don’t waste your money on a booth or table. You need to be as mobile as possible. Have plenty of business cards and brochures to hand out, but keep in mind that giving is better than receiving — you can’t stay in touch with someone unless you have his contact information.