To quickly recap, so far we’ve had these six wishes for 2014:
For today’s two, I have a couple of tips that I think are especially important – and if you’re a regular reader here at Zen, you’ll have seen these before.
- Put Out Real Content: Writing may not be your thing (as we discussed yesterday), but if it is, make sure you’re putting out real content. You don’t have to be authoring huge long dissertations or giant blog posts, but the content you put out must be thoughtful and useful. It drives me crazy to get "blog post" alerts from firms that say that someone at the firm is quoted in an article. As I said here, I’m not going to do the work of clicking through to that link to see if the article is something I’m interested in. I’ll just skip to the next thing. And if I’m doing it, I guarantee that your clients are doing it.
Press releases about awards and new partners are necessary – but they are not content. For a long time, I thought I didn’t have anything to add to the blogosphere, and so I did not have a blog. Once I joined Twitter, and started having conversations with fellow marketing colleagues and lawyers, and reading some of what they were writing, I realized that many of my responses were longer than a comment on a blog post. I had a lot of my own thoughts and comments that I wanted to share, and blogging turned out to be a good medium for those – that’s where Zen was born.
I’m sure that it’s the same for many of you – we all read a lot in our various professions – articles written in trade publications, blog posts written by colleagues and clients, even thought-provoking ideas from outside of the industry. We may comment on these to friends or colleagues. Why not turn those comments into a blog post? When a legal decision comes down or a case lends itself to a post on "how to avoid x," that’s a good opportunity for lawyers to show off what they know in a way that’s helpful and valuable. This year, focus on putting out good content – even if you have to post or share less frequently, if you make sure that what you’re publishing is substantive, you’ll be far more successful.
- Make Your Networking Personal: At the end of last year, I talked about how important it is to understand the context of your networking and to make it more personal. This doesn’t just apply to holiday parties though – it’s something that has to be done in ALL your networking.
I know that here in the US, there’s a guilt factor associated with not being business-focused 100% of the time in a professional setting or when you’re supposed to be networking for professional reasons.
Over the last 9+ years, I’ve been fortunate enough to observe the networking habits of successful attorneys all over the world, and some of those who are most successful at it (and by successful I mean both creating and sustaining warm and deep relationships with those they networking with AND increasing business) are the Europeans.
The Europeans are excellent networkers – and it’s not because they go to cocktail receptions and do "drive-bys," where they chat for two minutes about where they’re from, what their specialty is, hand out their business card and move on to the next "prospect." It’s because they discuss things that have nothing to do with "business." They genuinely want to get to know the people that they’re talking to. They form friendships with them. And really knowing each other is what makes them so comfortable referring clients to each other, and calling each other up with professional questions. They’re not forming these relationships because they hope to get something out of them, but because they really want to get to know other people.
But even among the Americans, who are always business-focused, it’s a huge turn-off to have someone insert themselves into a conversation, explain their specialty and exchange business cards before rushing off. It feels majorly impersonal and as if the only reason you’re worth talking to is what you can give them – no one wants that.
So in 2014, I encourage you to make your networking social – truly social. Don’t feel guilty about it. Talk about your children, your pets, what hobbies you have. Bring up the new television show that really gets you thinking, or a book you recently read. Talk about a great meal you once had in another city or how you enjoy cooking on the weekends. These are the things that people will connect with you over – the things that will help them to know, like and trust you. And amazingly, that leads to business. Plus, it’s just incredibly rewarding.
I’m reminded here of one of the age-old complaints about Twitter among those who either don’t use it, or just use it a little and that is "I don’t care what someone had for lunch." And while normally, those of us who use and love Twitter will say that you don’t need to follow someone who is discussing something as mundane as their meals, the truth is that as you get to know people, even through social media, you DO care about the little things in their lives – the funny thing their daughter said on the way to school, the ice forming inside the windows of their office during the polar vortex, the amazing meal they cooked for dinner on a weeknight, the cute puppy they just welcomed home.
Paradoxically, when we connect on these deep human levels (yes, even the small things can be connecting us deeply), we make ourselves more open to professional success. So my call for this year is to not try *so* hard to focus on business in your networking – open up a little, learn about the people you’re trying to connect to. You just may be surprised.
We’re back tomorrow with our final two wishes for 2014. Stay tuned and don’t forget to add your resolutions for this year in the comments!