Please join us for a guest post from rainmaking trainer and expert, Jaimie Field.
For the past 4 Rainmaking Recommendations, we have been discussing the Rainmaking Cycle. Today, we discuss the last part, creating relationships. And while to some attorneys this may sound a bit woo-woo or spiritual, the truth is that people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
I’ve written this in the past, I’ve spoken about it in my CLE seminars, I’ve explained to my clients over and over and over that people do not hire law firms – they hire lawyers. And while being a part of some of the most well-known law firms may provide an opening, if the client doesn’t trust you, or doesn’t believe that you can help them resolve their issues, you are not getting the matter.
More importantly, if you take your clients for granted or don’t continue to build your relationships, you will lose them to someone else who will.
But let’s reiterate the Rainmaking Cycle one last time before we talk about the last part. The Rainmaking Cycle is a continuous circuit that is about 3 things:
- Creating visibility and becoming known as an authority in the field of law that you practice – this is known as Marketing yourself and your services (see Rainmaking Recommendation # 222);
- Meeting people – whether in person or virtually – who want or need your services or who know people who want or need your services – known as Networking (See Rainmaking Recommendation #223, #224 and #225); and
- Creating relationships in which you are the obvious choice to help them — and this is the Rainmaking part of the equation.
How to Create Relationships:
When you have met someone, during your networking, whom you believe you can help, whether it is a potential client or a referral source, follow up with them:
- Connect with them on social media;
- Send them an email telling them it was nice to meet them and that you would like to know more about them;
- Invite them for a conversation to learn more about them which you can do via telephone, virtual networking platform, or (when the world reopens) for coffee, lunch, happy hour, dinner.
Ask Questions & Do Your research:
Don’t get offended, but it’s never about you, it is always about them. And the more questions you can ask, the better you can get to know your potential clients, clients, and referral sources. You need to know:
- What keeps them up at night?
- What trends are occurring in their business, industry, or life?
- What makes them angry? What makes them happy?
- What do they want out of their business or life?
- Does their industry or niche have a language you need to learn?
- What problems do they want to be solved?
All of these questions, when asked, will allow you to respond in a way that isn’t a sales pitch (every attorney’s nightmare) but in a way that will help them achieve their goals, in turn allowing you to achieve yours.
Almost every person out there has a digital footprint. Do your research. Find out about them. This will enable you to ask questions that are rarely asked. For example, while preparing for a complimentary Rainmaking Training session with an attorney – an offer that, by the way, is still available to any lawyer with 3 or more years of practice under their belts – I discovered that her children were extremely well accomplished in certain sports. Imagine her surprise when I asked her about them, and followed up with questions about how hard it was for the children not to be able to participate in those sports during the pandemic.
Maintain and Deepen Relationships:
Just as important as creating relationships is maintaining them.
And the way you maintain your relationships is to keep in touch. Now, I am not saying you communicate with your contacts daily. That’s just annoying.
I am advocating that you find appropriate ways to keep yourself on their radars at all times. One of the most important things to do is to make sure that when an opportunity to solve a potential or current client’s problems arises, you’re the person they think about and to whom they reach out.
The old cliché that out of sight is out of mind is a truism you cannot afford to disregard.
As an aside, the number one reason clients leave their attorneys is lack of communication. Even if there is nothing in particular to say, clients want to know that you are still working on their matters. A quick call or email to tell them that you are still on the job but that there hasn’t been any movement lately is all they want.
- Send out appropriate newsletters.
An appropriate newsletter addresses the questions listed above and more.A newsletter that is all about you or your firm is not appropriate. Your wins and accolades don’t mean anything to the people you are contacting – while it’s nice, remember it’s not about you. Yes, there are ways to brag about your accomplishments and those of the firm, but I have seen too many law firm newsletters that don’t speak to the client’s issues but only list the achievements of the attorneys of the firm.It needs to be a mixture of both.
- Be transparent with your clients in your business dealings.
A marketing word that is overused these days is authenticity. And while you need to have genuineness in your transactions, it’s really about being open and honest with those with whom you want to have a relationship – regardless of whether it is a business relationship or a personal relationship.
If you make a mistake, own up to it.Use two words to make it right:“I’m sorry.”People will largely be forgiving if you acknowledge your mistakes and do what you can to fix it.
- Keep your promises
Whatever you promise to do (or not do) for a contact or client, keep that promise.Trust is built when your promises are met.
As I wrote in Rainmaking Recommendation #28, almost 10 years ago (and it is still true today):
While you may not be making a promise about how the specific case will go, are you making promises about how you are going to interact with your clients?
Are you promising that they are your number one priority? That you will respond to every contact and call? That you will keep them informed throughout the time they are working with your firm?
“Client Service” is not just a term to put on your website as a mission statement which you don’t live up to – “Our Clients are our number one priority” or “We care about our clients.” Client Service is a living and breathing edict.
Keeping your promises will help you to keep your clients.
- Say thank you
If someone does something nice for you – if you receive a referral, a gift, a nice thought, a holiday card, a compliment – say thank you. All people want is to be acknowledged. Not just for doing nice things for which you express your gratitude, but for being alive. We all need to be noticed – so notice your clients, prospects, referral sources, and let them know you appreciate them.
- Don’t “outsource” your relationships
If people wanted to speak to your assistant, they would have asked for him/her – speak directly to your contacts (clients, prospects, and referrals sources). While your assistant or associate can help with certain things, people want to speak with you.
Creating relationships, deepening those relationships is just one part of the Rainmaking Cycle.
The most important thing to understand and to implement is all three parts are intertwined and continuous. You need to make yourself known as the go-to authority (Marketing), you need to meet people (Networking), and you need to create and deepen the relationship (Rainmaking).