Vickie: I’d like to introduce you to Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, Connie Shaefer. Connie, thank you so much for joining me here today.
Connie: Thank you so much for having me.
Vickie: You came back from exhibiting at a legal conference and you were so excited. Was this your first experience exhibiting?
Connie: Yes, definitely my first. Going through the Institute’s training, we learned about it, and I just thought I have to do this.
Vickie: What kind of conference did you select to go to for the very first one?
Connie: A Kansas trial lawyers conference, mostly plaintiff attorneys. It was the all the trial attorneys in the state of Kansas. It actually happened in Kansas City, Missouri though, but it was for the state of Kansas.
Vickie: Close to home? Further away from home?
Connie: About four hours.
Vickie: I hear you saying something that I want everybody to hear. When you’re exhibiting, it’s not always going to be in your backyard. You made the effort to go four hours from your home, and based on what you had mentioned to me, I know it paid off. We’ll get to that eventually in this interview, but I want everybody to hear that it’s important to be willing to extend yourself. Congratulations on making that decision.
Connie: Thank you.
Vickie: How long was the conference?
Connie: It was a three-day conference. I got there the day before, and I had it set up early in the morning before the start.
Vickie: What I’m hearing you say is that there is some time that must be put into setting the stage for success. Talk to us a little bit about what you did to get ready.
Connie: I paid attention to what you taught in the CLNC® Certification Program very closely so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Then, over the course of time, I made sure I had all my ducks in a row. I went to the CLNC Marketing Center and I ordered everything that I could. I figured it was worth it. I ordered business cards and a name tag. I ordered a big banner and a table runner as well. I ordered pens with my name and all the good stuff on them. I picked up some other things too like mints for the attorneys. I ordered everything through the CLNC Marketing Center over the course of time
Vickie: Congratulations. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into it.
Connie: I did, and I remember from one of the sessions that you taught, learning about the fun cookies.
Vickie: The fortune cookies?
Connie: The fortune cookies! I loved that idea. So I actually made cards to go with them and I sent postcards to all the attorneys on the list before the conference so that they knew that they were going to meet me, and they were going to get a cookie when they came to see me.
Vickie: I think it’s brilliant to communicate to these attorneys when you can get that list in advance and to invite them to stop by your booth. That was a very smart strategy on your part.
Connie: Thank you.
Vickie: Did you have any kind of free drawings?
Connie: I had a glass bowl for the attorneys to place their business cards in. I also had some plain note cards, because in this day and age there’s a lot of times that they don’t come with their own business cards – everything’s electronic. But I allowed them to write their phone number, etc., and drop it in the glass dish so that they could see that there were a lot of cards in there. Then we did a drawing at the end of the second day. I was so excited. The drawing was for five free hours of my time. Equivalent to $750 worth of free legal nurse consulting services that I was going to provide. I had a whole stack of cards. Of course I had their information already – I actually had their business cards. So the card that I drew, it was wonderful, he was a workers’ compensation attorney, and he never dreamed that he would be the winner. They made a big deal about it with me going up on stage, and I gave a little spiel about what my services were, and it’s been very exciting.
Vickie: That’s a unique opportunity. You actually got to present to the attorneys. Were they receptive to that brief presentation?
Connie: Oh they were! They gave me a big applause and it was just great.
Vickie: Sounds fantastic. Since this was your first time, can you describe how it felt to be in front of these attorneys?
Connie: I have to tell you that I was a little nervous as I was preparing. In all my life I’ve had exposure to a lot of types of people, but have never had much exposure to attorneys. I just never had a reason to, and so I was a little bit nervous about that. But I just determined that it was going to be the same thing as when I was a new nurse, and I was meeting some of those doctors for the first time and how intimidated I was at that time. I just decided that it’s okay. I’m going to be who I am, and I’m going to be happy and bold and positive. They were wonderful people. They’re very approachable and kind, and many of them could have been my brother or could have been my neighbor. It was just nice.
Vickie: So it felt like gaining instant friends?
Vickie: That’s awesome. I know you said it was a three-day conference and that’s a long time to be in an exhibiting hall. What were some of your strategies for making sure that you stayed engaged, stayed energetic and really stayed focused and present to these attorneys that were coming by your booth?
Connie: I made sure I was always standing. Whenever they were out, I was standing so that when they would walk by, they would get eye-to-eye contact with me. I think it worked, because most of them would at least greet me and say hello. Whenever they were in session, I took that time to rest or review or whatever I was needing to do. But as soon as those doors opened, and the attorneys were out in the exhibiting hall, I was up, I was standing in front of the table and ready to meet them.
Vickie: That’s rule number one in an exhibiting hall. Do not sit when they’re all out there with you. You want to be standing. For me, when I’m in an exhibiting hall and I see people sitting I just blow past them because I figure they’re not that interested. You can almost tell who owns their own business at those booths and who’s just staffing the booth for a different owner that day. I’m sure that you saw some of these attorneys numerous times throughout the three-day event. Over the course of those three days did you notice that you started to develop a friendly relationship with an attorney that maybe, at first did just blow past you, or did just say hi, but didn’t have much else to say?
Connie: Yes, when they had a moment to stop and visit, you always try to find that connection, whatever that connection is. In my situation, the town I live in (in Kansas) has a big bluegrass festival and people all over the state of Kansas know about this. I was able to bring that up and so many of the attorneys who live far away had heard of the bluegrass festival. So we had lots of fun talking about coming down to the festival. And many of them had children my children’s age, and some of them were expecting grandchildren and it was just very comfortable, very friendly, very easy
Vickie: I think you’re saying something that especially people who are beginners as Certified Legal Nurse Consultants really need to hear. We talk about this in the CLNC Certification Program, but I don’t think this can ever be said enough. You were relaxed enough to just have a fun time with them. It wasn’t all Hi, I’m Connie Schaefer, Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and this is what I can do for you. You engaged in those friendly conversations that ultimately, when you do get to who you are and what your USP is, they’re more receptive because they got to know a little bit about who Connie was. Not just somebody trying to sell them something.
Connie: Right. I found that what they responded to also, was when I would ask them about them and ask them What kind of law do you practice? Or Do you have an exciting, unusual case right now? They love talking about themselves!
Vickie: That’s important because you can’t sell something to someone you know nothing about. Again, we talk about this extensively in the CLNC Certification Program. The only way you can really apply who you are, and what your USP is to the attorney, is to understand who they are. That’s just a smart business strategy – focusing on them. I always say it’s not about us, it’s about that attorney. When we focus on that attorney, we get much better results. I know you were there by yourself, so how did you manage things like meals, going to the bathroom break? I know you’ve got that nurse’s bladder, but how did you manage all that?
Connie: I always waited until they were in session, so there wasn’t anybody around. At that particular moment I would run to the bathroom if I needed to. But in all of the time that I was there, I didn’t really feel the need to have to eat. I always had nuts or something available, and I felt that for those three days, I didn’t need a meal per se. I really didn’t! They provided soft drinks, tea and things like that and that’s pretty much what I enjoyed throughout the day. I didn’t really need to take a break. Some people did. I did notice some vendors left for an hour and a half. But not me. I was right there for the whole thing.
Vickie: You were committed! And one thing I love is that you mentioned nuts. That’s my go-to food. Whenever I’m traveling, on the road or doing business, time might be tight, but nuts can really save you if you’re busy and you don’t have time for a meal. Luckily most nurses are used to eating relatively quickly. Even if you go off, probably it’ll be for a half an hour to catch a quick lunch, not an hour and a half like you said you observed other people doing. Talk to me about the results of this first exhibiting experience.
Connie: I’m in the middle of two cases right now that I would not have had if I wouldn’t have gone to this conference.
Connie: Yes! I’m excited! It’s a law firm that I’ve never worked with before, but I’ve always wanted to, because they’re well known in our community, so I’m very excited. This wouldn’t have happened and I know it wouldn’t have. But following the conference I took that email list and I sent individual emails and I also sent follow-up postcards. I tried to tie them into my fortune cookies and what their fortune is going to be for 2022 (and that it is going to be a good fortune). Anyway, it was kind of fun how I was able to tie that in. And I sent some cards, not just postcards, to those that actually connected with me and where I saw a little bit more possibility of the future, and I spelled that out too. I sent emails one at a time instead of a group email. I did one at a time so they could respond back to me, and many of them did, saying I’ve got you in mind and that first case that we have you will hear from us.
Vickie: That’s awesome and it sounds like you’re doing everything right. What I hear from some people is that they get home from an exhibit, and they come back home to their busy lives. There’s follow-up to do and I’ve had people say Vickie, it’s a month later and I still hadn’t done the follow-up and now I’m embarrassed to do it. It doesn’t seem timely. But it sounds like you jumped on it. You did it the right way and you customized it. You didn’t send out a blanket follow-up. I’ve gotten emails from vendors in the past and it’s exactly what you just described – a boilerplate email, and you can tell every other person that participated at that conference got that same email. It’s apparent they don’t even remember who you were. But it sounds like you took the time to remember who these attorneys were. How did you do that? Did you take notes? How did you remember personal things about these lawyers?
Connie: I had the roster when I was there and I just put little notes off to the side, anything that would bring to my memory something specific about them. That’s what I tried to do on those that I had connected with, and I tried to refer back to that. That way they knew that it was an individualized message. It wasn’t just a group message.
Vickie: People are going to be more likely to respond to that. You had mentioned to me that one of the other ways that you want to follow through with these attorneys is to do presentations, so talk to us a little bit about that.
Connie: My most recent clinical experience has been as an infection preventionist. I know that arena of nursing and I don’t even have to think about it, I know so much about it. I thought that would be easy. I could go in and teach and so I offered that. But I also said that I was open to their suggestions on what they’re in need of. A trial attorney or personal injury attorney’s needs might be different than the needs of a workers’ compensation attorney. I find out what it is they need, and I concentrate on that.
Vickie: I really love this. We talk about presentations in the CLNC Certification Program as a marketing strategy. And what I love about doing presentations is you’re putting the focus on the attorney with something that’s benefiting them. It’s less about selling because you’re naturally selling when you do a presentation. Suddenly they realize how smart you are and begin to appreciate your expertise. But you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t feel like selling, so it’s quite effective. It’s almost like you’re like the perfect student in terms of everything that you’ve taken from the program. Literally you are applying everything you learned! You said that at the beginning of this interview, but you really mean it. Is exhibiting part of your future?
Connie: Definitely. I know I’ll go back to this one for sure. I talked with some of the other vendors that were there and some of them have been for eight, ten, or twelve years, and they have relationships with these attorneys from over that time. I saw the value in watching them interact and I know I want to go back. There was another legal nurse that was there. She wasn’t from the Institute’s training, and I know that what I presented was superior. You could just tell. I had several attorneys that said I do hope you’ll come back, and I definitely plan to go back. And then, maybe a national conference. I’m always open to see what else is out there.
Vickie: I think you should go for it. I love that the attorneys were telling you to come back. That’s a very unique experience, because when attorneys walk through an exhibit hall they meet a lot of vendors. You must have stood out for them to actually encourage you to come back the following year. I can tell that you were doing everything right. What do you see as the biggest benefit of exhibiting?
Connie: It’s like I had a hundred and forty ripe and ready attorneys that didn’t even know how much they needed me until this conference. Now they know. How simple is that? It’s so much better than making cold calls. I do it all, I call, I send letters and I follow up in every way, but this was just easy. It’s like they’re right in front of me and you just have to step out.
Vickie: I know you say it was easy, but is there anything you would say to that Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who might be a little hesitant to step out and exhibit?
Connie: Do you remember as a brand new baby nurse how scary it was to have to make those first phone calls to some of those really intimidating doctors or something like that? You just did it. You just did it and the first time was maybe a little nerve-wracking. After that, you gain your confidence and you know who you are. At this point in my life I don’t really have to worry about impressing anybody. I just have to be me and that’s the best I can do. With 40 years of nursing experience, I can help with whatever their needs are.
Vickie: It sounds like being Connie Schaefer works, so I say keep it up! Congratulations Connie. Thank you so much for sharing your exhibiting success with us here today.
Connie: Thank you.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Connie on her CLNC Success.