Last week, we talked about channeling your inner Taylor Swift to connect with your clients – it seems silly, but no one understands her client base and instill rabid loyalty better than Taylor, and isn’t that all something we’d love to emulate with our own clients?

We may not have her reputation (see what I did there?), but that doesn’t mean we can’t practice some of her tactics in our own relationship development efforts with similar success. One of the things she’s got down pat is knowing when to engage directly. 

For her 1989 Secret Sessions for example, she was the one to identify and track those that she wanted to invite to her house, not her staff. She’s the one to man her Twitter account. When she goes out to meet fans, she doesn’t breeze in and out, signing her name a few times and smiling before she’s whisked away by security – she stays a while, talked with fans, and genuinely engages.

She’s a do-it-yourself-er.

We all know she has people – assistants, drivers, house cleaners, what have you. But when it counts, she’s the one representing herself. It should be the same in the legal profession.

While it’s only happened a handful of times in my career, one of my pet peeves is having someone’s assistant call me and tell me that they have that person on the line. The message that sends is that the person is too busy and self-important to dial my number themselves. And I can tell you, based on experience, that the most successful rainmakers I know all call me directly (not coincidentally, they are also the same people who read and respond to the emails I send them as well).

Behind the scenes, they may have assistants finding, and even dialing, my number for them, but when I answer the phone, they’re the one on the line.

Your clients do not want to have their relationship with you with someone else. Sure, they can get to know, like and trust the people that work with and for you, but they also want to know, like and trust YOU. And for that to happen, you can’t delegate your relationship and communication work to someone else.

Whether we like it or not, we’re in a relationship business. There are some matters where clients will say that it doesn’t matter if they like you or not – you’re the best, and they want the best. Great. But how many of those matters are you handling?

For the most part, you’ve got to do it yourself – I know there are only so many hours in the day, so figure out what you can and should delegate, and commit to being present for the rest. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily about what we *like* doing – it’s about what our clients want and need from us. So…

  • If you are sending thank you notes, maybe you have your assistant draft them, but YOU should write and send them (yes, even if they’re emailed – double points if you hand write them).
  • When making a phone call, even if you have your assistant dial the number, you should be the one making the call. You are not too important to leave someone a voicemail if necessary.
  • If you use social media, the accounts should be yours. You can use others to help get you started, and to advise you on how to use them as well as best practices, but the engagement and interaction must be all you. Otherwise, don’t bother.
  • When responding to emails, they should be coming from you, or at least appear to be coming from you. Maybe you work seamlessly enough with your assistant that no one can tell, but I can tell you that when you put that additional wall up of another person who answers your emails and won’t let clients or even referral sources through unless it’s absolutely urgent, they’re going to stop bothering to reach out to you – it’s simply too much work.

Like Taylor’s fans, we all want to believe that the person on the other end of any communication (from face to face right through to email and social media) thinks we’re important. When you delegate that communication, you send the message that the other person isn’t in your immediate circle and doesn’t warrant your full attention. Even if that’s true, it’s your job to make them believe that they are the most important person to you. Otherwise, they start to think that your lack of attention bleeds into everything else…including how much you care about their business.

Creating that feeling of value with every person you speak to is a gift, and one worth cultivating. If each of your clients believes they are your top client, they will always trust you with their work, and recommend you to others. But if they believe that either someone else, or even you, is more important to you than they are, they will slowly pull away until you’re wondering what happened to the work there – and that’s true even if you are a very good lawyer. Because unless you are the ONLY lawyer that does what you do, there are a lot of very good lawyers out there that they can work with – the difference will be in the relationships they have with them.

So, take a dance break right now to rock out to “Me!,” and ask yourself how you can put some of Taylor Swift’s client loyalty tips into practice for you!