Anyone setting up or developing a business as a mediator will have heard the injunction: ‘Don’t give up the day job.’ It is a rare breed of professional who describes themselves as a ‘full-time mediator’, the reason being, as the author writes, ‘most people who train as mediators cannot make a living as mediators’.
Having accepted the challenges that face all mediators, from ‘dreamers’ (first-timers) to ‘snowballers’ (experienced ones whose business is largely repeat), Stephen Walker proceeds to give practical advice and clear analysis as to all the things you should do before you open your door. Importantly, he gives a time line, so you can get on with the job in hand (many ‘wannabe’ mediators procrastinate and allow their principal job to dominate). He also offers to-do lists and financial spreadsheet templates to make sure you have everything in place before you do.
The sections on marketing, selling and ‘making a noise’ (both in the real and virtual worlds) will be particularly useful for professionals to whom these skills do not come naturally. The author shows how skills can be transferred and used, notably by stating encouragingly that if you can mediate you can also market and sell mediation. There are overlaps between the two areas, although the skills are not identical. The author tells mediators to ask themselves ‘why would you choose yourself as a mediator?’ The answer will enable mediators to know their product and be concise about what they offer.
An occupational hazard of marketing mediation is dealing with objections from prospects when making pitches about mediation. One of the highlights of this book is a series of highly persuasive scripts offered as a reply to each objection. They are truly convincing. I just hope not everyone in the mediation world learns them by heart and uses them too regularly, or we will all sound like an overplayed record! A realist, the author also offers tips on how to deal with rejection when things do not work out as hoped.
Unique in being both really practical and truly inspirational, this book offers hope and guidance to mediators at every stage of their career, while giving an idea of the time, money and effort involved to succeed.
Rebecca Attree is a solicitor and civil and commercial mediator at Attree & Co, London