This week’s Rainmaking Recommendation from coach and expert, Jaimie Field, talks about one of my favorite topics – network building! Read on for her advice.
An old Chinese proverb says:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The reason that I use this to begin my Rainmaking Recommendation this week is that many people, at the beginning of the lockdown, were told that they should use the time at home during the pandemic to be extra productive and achieve the goals they have wanted to achieve. Learn a new language, write a book, clean out your house, etc.
And then we began riding the Corona-coaster, experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – the highs and lows – and we may not have accomplished all that we wanted to during this time so far. But it’s never too late.
One of the most important aspects of becoming a Rainmaker is the network of people that you build.
These are the people whom you can help, and who can help you. And, even if you have a network of people that you can already call upon, you can continue to build your network of people who will become instrumental in helping you become a Rainmaker. Because, as I have said many, many times, Rainmaking = Relationships.
Here are seven steps to building your network during a pandemic:
Step #1 – List Them
Your network is a lot bigger than you think. Even if you are a self – described introvert, you still have a plethora of people that you know. Start by making a list of every person you know.
This could include:
- Your family and your extended family (cousins, aunts, and uncles, etc.)
- Your friends from law school, college, and high school
- The professionals you hire like your accountant, financial services professionals, realtors, doctors and other professionals you hire
- Old employers
- Former clients
- Current clients
- Prospective clients
- Anyone you know not on this list
This list should also include a “dream network” section – that is, a list of ideal clients and connections you would love to have but have absolutely no connection to them at all at this time.
Step #2 – Find them
You already know where your family and friends are but are you connected with them online? Whether you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, you should be friends, connected, and following, everyone you know. (And, no you do not have to use every single social media platform – choose one or two you will consistently use – but if you are a lawyer you should absolutely be on LinkedIn. Period.)
Find them on social media and just connect (you do not have to do anything else). And if you are using LinkedIn, for example, to connect with them, please take the time to craft a message explaining why you would like to connect with them.
Step #3 – “Listen” to them
This is a social media marketing term in which you just follow the people you know and get to know them better. You don’t have to contribute at this time, although if you choose to comment on their posts, make sure that it is an erudite comment.
Just see what they are posting. What are they interested in? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? Do you know what they do for a living?
Just learn more about the network without actually “saying” (i.e. posting) anything.
Step #4 – Help them.
Zig Ziglar once said: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want.”
By helping them, I do not mean just referring clients to them. When you are “listening” to your network you can help them with anything they need – including just providing them with information. Create and curate content that helps them achieve their goals and dreams.
And one of the other ways to help them is to just pick up the phone and find out how they are doing. What most people want, what they need, is other people with whom to talk. And not just about business – about everything. They want and need empathy. If you are experiencing the ups and downs of the pandemic, what must they be going through?
Step #5 – Explain to them
Let them know what you (and your firm) provide.
This is not meant as a commercial. This is just you telling them what you are up to these days. Find a way to let the network of your friends, family, and peers know what you are doing that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.
This can be done online by making sure that your profiles on the various social media sites say more than “I’m an attorney.” And please don’t think that just adding your practice area is going to be more effective. Saying “I’m a labor and employment lawyer,” for example, does not convey what you do to most people.
Your profiles should say who your ideal clients are and what you can do for them. So, for example, you could write: “I work with business owners in companies with more than 100 employees to make sure that employment matters don’t become legal issues.”
Step #6 – Court them
I have likened relationship building to dating on a number of different occasions. And in a lot of ways, it is the same thing. You have to get to know your network. And the more you know the better. Before the pandemic, I would have told you to take it offline and meet with your network in-person. And that when you do meet face-to-face, you go back to steps 3 (listen), 4 (help), and 5 (explain what you do without the sales pitch). But since it will be a while before we are back to meeting live and in-person on a regular basis, you can still meet.
Make an appointment to meet with them on a virtual platform – Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, Microsoft Teams it doesn’t matter. And when you do “meet” with them, ask questions. The more questions you can ask the better. What makes them tick? What keeps them up at night? What do they need?
Meet with your network “face-to-face”. And when you do, go back to steps 3, 4, and 5 and repeat while you are speaking with them one-on-one.
Step #7 – Follow up with Them.
“One and done” will never cut it as a relationship building technique and, as I said above, Rainmaking = Relationships
To create relationships you need to put some effort into keeping in touch with your network regularly. You need to follow up.
Send emails, texts, private messages; ask if they want the law firm’s newsletter; call them up to help them with something they need. You must keep building your relationships with people to build your network.
You already have a network of people that you know. While they may not need your services at this time, they may know someone who does. You want to make sure that the relationships you develop are strong enough to build the trust necessary that when they do need your help (or know someone who does) they feel comfortable enough to contact you or refer you.