If you have zoom fatigue, raise your hand.

My guess is that everyone has their hand raised. I know I do. Everyone is fed up with taking meetings on their screens, and so when something is voluntary, you’re going to opt out of it. I get it.

But what are you building if you don’t show up?

Bear with me for a moment while we take a diversion and talk about friendships. We all have deep and abiding friendships, where, if things got tremendously busy and we dropped off the radar for a little while, we could (apologetically) pop back in and reconnect with our friends as if no time had passed and pick up where we had left off.

But what if a year passed, and we didn’t communicate with our friends at all? No texts, no emails, no FB messages or calls (but really, don’t call me; I don’t talk on the phone).

Would that person still be your friend? Or would you have some work to do to rebuild that relationship?

If you said the latter, then why are you expecting your business relationships to be any different?

Recently, someone said on a call about building client relationships that it’s easy to fall into the trap of being busy and thinking “I’ll just do that tomorrow or this weekend,” and then not following up. We ALL do it. With so much of the legal industry having a record year last year, I know that lawyers were busier than ever, so it can feel like it is unnecessary to actively build these relationships that are so important to your business. because they are just occurring naturally.

Until they aren’t.

We all know that the nature of any business is for it to be cyclical. We have highs and lows, and so what comes up must go down. And so we must always be building. And if you’re ignoring your prospects, and yes, even professional friends, are you sure that they’ll be there when you come back to find them when it’s “tomorrow or this weekend”?

The time to invest in your networks is today.

Do you have to spend an hour every day doing business development and managing your relationships? Of course not. But devote some time to deciding what you want to achieve as a starting point (that’s your goal), and how you want to achieve it (that’s your strategy), and then the action steps that you’ll take to get there. It may be as simple as maintaining the relationships that you already have, reaching out to former clients and referral sources to ensure that they stay fresh connections, or in some cases, developing new ones. The means by which you’ll achieve this will vary by what works best for you (and we’ve covered this extensively here on Zen already), but the key is that you MUST show up – relationships are the one thing that cannot be delegated, paused or ignored. Those on the other side will feel and remember the sting of being forgotten and it will be a steep climb to repair the damage done.

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.