In the legal industry, we’re in the business of relationships. It’s the nature of being service providers. So this week’s tips are brought to you in the spirit of encouraging additional connections and reaffirming the relationships that you have with those connections, whether they be clients or potential clients, referral sources, or other influencers and amplifiers.
Tip One: Reach out to two people
However you’re most comfortable connecting with people, it’s time to review that list of your contacts.
- Keep your contacts in a rolodex on your desk? Flip through it today.
- Link to everyone on LinkedIn? Browse your list of connections.
- Have your assistant use a CRM system? Go through it.
- Have a pile of business cards in your desk? Pick two.
In whatever way you’re keeping record of your contacts, take a few minutes to go through that list and choose two people who you haven’t talked to in the last six months to a year. Then, reach out to them today – send them a quick email to see what they’re up to. Drop them a handwritten note to say hello, and enclose an article that they might find helpful. Comment on their latest status update on LinkedIn. No matter what you do, find a way to reach out to them.
Why do this? Well, we’re all busy people, and there’s a short list of people who will be top of your mind on a regular basis. The likelihood is that if you’re not someone that they talk to regularly, you’re going to fall off their radar. Connecting with them again in some way puts you back on – and often, timing is everything, so you may be getting in touch right when the person needs an attorney with your expertise, or knows someone who does. It may be the case that they’re working with a conference organizer, and think you’d be perfect to join them on a panel, or they know a reporter looking for an additional source with your credentials.
It’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time, but can reap big dividends. Our networks of contacts are no good to us if we don’t nurture them. And while there will be those off-chances where someone will need you and seek you out, the majority of the time it’s more likely to happen when someone is already thinking about you.
I know, personally, that when someone reaches out to see how I’m doing, and regularly works to connect with me, I feel much more warmly towards them. And subsequently, I’m actively looking for ways that we can work together, or I can help them out. It’s still important not to bother or bombard someone with notes or offers of assistance (that can have the opposite effect), but checking in periodically can make all the difference in your relationship, especially if you work to make their life easier or offer value in another way.
Take someone to lunch
Along those lines, why not arrange to have lunch with one of those people that you’re reaching out to, or even a cup of coffee? While we are all busy, it can be really nice once in a while to take a breather and have a conversation over a meal with someone else in the industry.
If it’s a potential client, or a current client, it gives you the opportunity to talk with them and find out about the things that might be bothering them at the moment. Even if they aren’t things you can directly solve for them, you may know someone who can help, or be of assistance by just lending your ear. At the minimum, you’re creating goodwill with them, and showing them that you care about the relationship, and not just the fees you can get.
If it’s a referral source, you’re reaffirming your relationship with that person, and reminding them about what it is you do (and vice versa). Perhaps you’ve expanded your practice in recent years, or you’re interested in a new area of the law. Having a longer conversation with someone than just a telephone call or email gives you the opportunity to share that information and equip your referral source with the knowledge they need to pass along business to you that is appropriate.
Influencers and amplifiers are also important sources – have lunch with a reporter you know, and find out what kinds of stories they’re focusing on. Perhaps you would be a good source for something that they might not have considered you for, or you can point them to someone else (which still benefits you, because you’re giving yourself the reputation of being helpful). You may chat with a conference organizer, who remembers that they’re starting to develop content for a new conference, and you’d be just the right fit.
You may be lunching with someone else in the industry, who, because they’ve gotten to know you better, will be on the lookout for any articles or blog posts you share, and will then share them with their audiences.
Having lunch does take more time than a quick email to your connections, but give yourself a goal of having one lunch per quarter to start with – it’s very manageable, and it can make a world of difference.
How do you make sure to nurture your network of connections regularly?