92 Women Law. J. 13 (2006-2007)
The Fine Art of Asking for What You Deserve

handle is hein.journals/wolj92 and id is 137 raw text is: MARKETING
The Fine Art of Asking for What You Deserve
Susan Smith. Selloquent LLC

American essayist, poet, and popular philosopher, Ralph
Waldo Emerson said, Whatever you put out into the
universe will come back to you ten-fold. As mothers, friends,
partners and providers, we are accustomed to giving. We have
become accustomed to getting something in return, however,
only when the time is right, when it's our turn, or when the stars
align. And we expect these results without asking for them. That
is why it is important to remember that Emerson also said that
those who cannot tell what they desire or expect, still sigh and
struggle with indefinite thoughts and vast wishes. Our task then,
is to get comfortable asking for what we want in return for our
Historically, the job of an attorney was to practice law. There
was not an expectation that each individual practitioner would
grow business. Today, however, whether starting your own firm,
working your way toward partner or filling a leadership role,
business development is a prized and expected skill. Enhancing
your ability to ask for referrals is one easy way to meet these
expectations while distinguishing yourself as a prized attorney.
You will be surprised how littlepeople expect
when they genuiney want to he/p.
So why aren't all of us asking for referrals? There are a handful
of common beliefs that prevent attorneys from making such
a request. Identifying the reasons why you are uncomfortable
asking for a referral will help you rid yourself of some common
misconceptions that may be preventing you from growing your
1. If I do a good job, people will refer me. In the back of our
minds, most of us think, If I work hard and I do a good job,
people will eventually refer me to others. Now think about the
pace of your day. How much time do you spend thinking about
who you can refer to whom? If you are like most people, you
are far too busy to devote much time to such exercises unless
specifically asked. Therefore, if you want people to refer you,
you must take the time to ask them to do so, and then you must
schedule time to gracefully stay top of mind.
2. If I ask for business, people will think I'm desperate.
Most people, attorneys included, think of asking for business as
a sales-y activity that makes them seem desperate or pushy. Some
may think it is incompatible with the practice of law. That belief
is limiting. Think about how you get things done in other areas
of life: you ask others around you for input and they are happy to
assist. Requests make the world go round. The same holds true in
your career: you've done a good job and there are many people
who will help you, but only if you tell them how.

3. I can't talk to my clients about other business. Some
attorneys believe their clients don't want to know they have other
clients to tend to. Think of the businesses your clients are in. No
one will be in business long if they only have one client. People
understand that; do not let it stop you from asking, Do you
know anyone else who could benefit from my services?
There are many people who will help you,
but ony if you tell them how.
4. Getting means I have to give. Exchange of favors and
referrals is rarely a one-for-one occurrence, i.e., You give me a
green marble and I'll give you a red marble. We give in one place
in life and we get back in another. You will be surprised how little
people expect when they genuinely want to help.
Remember that change does not happen over night. The beliefs
we've discussed may have been with you for twenty, thirty years or
more. Don't expect to wake up tomorrow with your old patterns
of thinking magically transformed. Take the time to set realistic
goals that show progress over a specific period of time, and
schedule checkpoints to review your results. For example, Each
month I will ask for four referrals. Next Tuesday, at 3 PM, I will
write down what a good referral is for me. Find a likeminded
person who knows your goal and will hold you accountable for
its completion. Like developing referral relationships, changing
behaviors and learning new skills take time and planning. Start
today. Go out and ask for what you deserve. °

WLJ - Summer 2007 * 13

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