Getting in Touch With Your Inner Hustler

By: Sharon Berman,

Whether or not you’re a “natural” when it comes to marketing and selling your services, you can learn to enhance your business development skills and become more effective at attracting new clients.

The first step in taking your marketing and selling efforts to a new level is to get in touch with your “inner hustler.”

Although we often think of the term in a negative context, Webster dictionary’s first definition of “hustler” is actually a very positive one: An enterprising person determined to succeed.

Reading up on Webster’s definitions of “enterprising” we find: Ready to take on projects of importance or difficulty … Characterized by great imagination or initiative.

Considering these definitions, wouldn’t you be flattered to be called a “hustler”? Wouldn’t it be a boost to your ego if your peers saw you as an enterprising person determined to succeed? Truly successful attorney-marketers are “hustlers.” They have gotten in touch with their inner hustler and put it to use without crossing over into the negative connotations of the term.

Many professionals have inner hustlers lying dormant inside. They remain asleep because our day-to-day business environment does not provide the impetus to prod them awake. In fact, many environments discourage us from waking our inner hustlers, lest we try something new or make changes that might bring discomfort to ourselves or others. But waking your personal hustler can mean making progress more quickly. It can help you get hired at the right kind of firm for you, push you past the resistance of asking for a raise or reaching the partner “ring” more quickly.

Don’t worry that your inner hustler will take over or cause you to act unprofessionally once you wake it up. All you’re doing is harnessing the hustler’s energy to differentiate yourself and take you where you want to go, while remaining a professional.

How do you wake up your inner hustler? First, ask yourself these questions: Are you an enterprising attorney determined to succeed? Are you ready to take on difficult projects? Do you have great initiative and imagination? Most lawyers would answer those questions with a resounding yes. However, realize that when it comes to putting your inner hustler to good use, it’s initiative that counts more than imagination. As someone once said, the world is full of file drawers containing great ideas. The challenge is not coming up with a great idea, but making it happen.

When it comes to marketing, many attorneys are reluctant to go forward because they are afraid of rejection. But once you put your inner hustler into play, you’ll find it easier to forge ahead without taking things personally. To be a hustler, you need to remember that the world is really made up of “No’s”, and that nine times out of 10, that’s what you’ll hear when you ask a Yes-or-No question.

Fear of rejection becomes much less of a roadblock if you proceed with the knowledge that the likelihood of a negative answer is much greater than that of getting a Yes. When you’re prepared for a No, you can let it roll off your back much more easily than if you’re holding your breath for a Yes. Just wave the No off, and move on to the next question. Every No gets you that much closer to a Yes.

Sometimes the Yeses are just waiting for you to ask. Also, learn to evaluate the No’s. Is it just a No-for-now – maybe a Yes if you come back in a couple of months? Is there a way to get around the No?

If you’ve been marketing all along, but want to break out of a rut or take your moving and shaking to a whole new level, it’s time to have a talk with your inner hustler. Charging things up takes energy, or a new energy level, depending on where you are now. It takes initiative to make it to that one extra networking meeting a week after a long day, or to call a client you haven’t spoken with for a while, or to identify targeted speaking engagements.

Let your inner hustler energize you and drive you to succeed.
Here’s a “heel-nipping” exercise that can propel your inner hustler into action. Think about your chief competitors. Then imagine that you’ve just learned about a highly effective marketing action they’ve taken, one that you’d been considering, but never got around to, or the kind of action that would make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Perhaps you found out a competitor published a book on a subject in your area of expertise. Or, maybe your competitor presided over a high-profile industry conference. Perhaps a competing firm started accepting credit cards for payment of professional services, something you’d been considering but didn’t do. Whatever it is, imagine that you learned today that the competition had beaten you to the punch. What would your reaction be?

The good news is that they haven’t done it yet, and you still have time to rouse your inner hustler and get moving! Sometimes it takes external circumstances to make your inner hustler go into action. For example, you lose your job or you’re starting a practice and need to build a book of business quickly. Imagine that you’ve just encountered such a situation where your back is against the wall -you have to take action to avoid dire consequences, such as losing your home. What marketing action would you take today that you’ve been putting off because of inertia or fear of discomfort? Identify that action, then do it!

Jumpstarting your inner hustler may mean being uncomfortable for a short period of time. It’s similar to ramping up your workout program when your muscles are still stiff. Once you get used to it, the awkwardness and pain disappear. Just think of the many things you comfortably do today which were uncomfortable the first few times you tried them. You were able to push past the challenge until you became comfortable. It’s the same with waking your inner hustler to market and sell more effectively.

As always, the rewards are well worth the effort.

Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consulting firm specializing in working with professional services firms. She can be reached at
The firm’s website is

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