The countdown to Mediation Awareness Week in the UK is well and truly on. We have already had the lively CIArb Mediation Symposium in London with a range of speakers including Mediator Academy guests such as Tim Hardy and Bill Marsh. We were also treated to fascinating keynote regarding the future of civil justice in the UK with Lord Justice Briggs.
We can expect many more such events taking place in mediation awareness week. With so many mediators in one place it begs the question - how can a mediator (and indeed mediation more generally) stand out from the crowd?
One of the best things we can do to improve mediation awareness is to focus on what clients want. If we deliver, they will come. This, however, is easier said than done.
For people whose job it is to resolve conflict - mediators disagree a lot! Should mediation be facilitative or evaluative? How should we unite the profession? The question of what the client wants is no different.
The expert guests on Mediator Academy give their two cents below.
Horses for Courses
The Mediation Awareness Week in the UK is helpfully organised into the various overarching mediation specialisms such as Civil & Commercial, Family, Community, Elder and Peer mediation.
There is a reason for this. Disputes are complex and different circumstances warrant different processes, attitudes and approaches.
But why stop here? The market can be segmented a lot further than this. Within commercial mediation there are different industries, different levels of client sophistication and some disputes may require extremely specific technical know-how.
In our interview with Tim Hardy, for example, he suggests that it is an absolute no brainer that subject-matter expertise is an essential criterion for appointing a mediator for a commercial dispute.
Go Wide or Go Deep?
But what about when you're just starting out? Should you just take anything that lands on your desk or should you hold yourself out as a specialist?
Experienced mediator Phil Hesketh recalls when he was starting out as a mediator and looking for any work he could find. Instead of haphazardly marketing his services however, he began to consider where he can produce his best work and targetted clients accordingly. Hear his story here:
Finding a niche in this crowded market takes time but the rewards are substantial.
Find Your Niche
So how do you carve out your niche?
There are lots of factors to consider:
- Think about the different ways you can segment the market.
- Think about your own experience and qualities.
- What do you excel in?
- How can you craft and hone your skills?
- Where is there demand for mediation services?