Summer is often a time that we naturally slow down – the weather is warmer, we feel lazier, more people are out on vacation and we may be out ourselves.
You may be expecting me to suggest a litany of ways you can supercharge the time you have in the office or on your vacation to make the most of it, but I’m not going to do either of those things. First, I’m going to tell you – if you’re taking time away from the office this summer, take it. Delegate your workload as best as you can except for TRUE EMERGENCIES (and be honest with yourself about what those are) and don’t check your emails. Try turning your work email off your phone for the period that you’ll be out of the office. It sounds anxiety-producing, but I promise you that once you do it, it’s really quite freeing. If it feels like you’re neglecting your work, the truth is that we’re all better humans AND better at our jobs when we take a genuine break from our work and come back to it refreshed. Your clients want that for you too.
Secondly, when you’re in the office and there may be a slower pace because clients are also taking holidays and fewer of your colleagues are around, we don’t need to pile on the to-do list, but there are a few tips I want to share that can help with getting us ready for the full force of the fall months and keep things ticking along.
Audit your social media
This can happen in a couple of ways. Perhaps you’re not a big social media user genuinely, and that’s fine. Or maybe you find yourself doom scrolling a lot, and you want to consider how much of your time you’re investing online. That’s one way you can do an audit – decide which platforms you really want to be invested in and on and where you may be finding both clients and joy (the two are not necessarily the same).
Secondly, and perhaps more relevant is auditing your list of connections. All platforms operate on algorithms, and so the more you engage with someone or certain content, the more you see that person and/or that content. So you may not realize that some of your other connections aren’t really present anymore. In some cases, that’s what you want, but in others, it may not be. So spending some time reviewing the connections you have, particularly on LinkedIn, to see if there are people that you want to delete from your list or some that you’d like to be better engaged with, does take time but can be worthwhile. For those that you’d like to be more engaged with, there’s only one way to see them more in your feed and you may have guessed how that happens – through engagement. You’ll have to visit their profiles a few times to seek out their activity (if they’re active) or perhaps reach out directly to suggest that you have a call or meet up. It takes thought and effort (like any good relationship!) but the payoff in networking and relationship development can be huge. Think of it as a refresh of your relationships.
This can be difficult if you have a huge number of connections, so if that’s the case, set a timer for yourself to do it, or work on it while you’re watching something mindless or while commuting.
Connect with colleagues
Some of your colleagues will be out on holiday and there may still be a mix of people working remotely. So if you’re in the office a few days a week, now is the time to see who else may be in and chat with them a bit. Learn more about others’ practice areas, what’s new for them, where there may be overlap, etc. How are ways that you could be helpful to them? There was a huge period where we were all out of the office and then there was a period where we were really excited to see each other, sort of, and now things in some places are in flux again. So a concentrated effort to pop your head in to connect while things (may be, depending on the area of the law/) are quieter will make you more memorable.
Bonus points if you can find ways to introduce that colleague to other members of your team or clients.
Read a book
Okay, this sounds like cheating, but I’m serious. There are a ton of great business books out there that most of us never get the chance to sit down and focus on. Maybe there’s one that a client is reading that you wanted to connect over or a book on diverse leadership that you wanted to pick up six months ago or one on collaboration that you meant to read on the train. I’m not suggesting you put your feet up on your desk and while away an afternoon with your nose in a book (but if you can and do, GET IT). But perhaps you split your time between the great mystery novel you picked up for your beach read with a leadership book, and then you can feel a bit smug about the “work” you did while relaxing with your feet in the sand.
Or, alternatively, since I did tell you to really step away from the office while on holiday, use any downtime you’re finding to read for a bit and consider it to be leadership training. Pro-tip – you can also listen to books on audio to multitask. I obviously don’t recommend this while you’re doing client work for obvious reasons, but if you want to combine this when you’re doing non-billable work, it’s a great way to get some valuable nuggets while also doing other things. My favorite is to garden while I have an audiobook on. It also means I can’t hear my neighbors calling to me.
Plan your fall
Depending on where you are geographically right now, fall can feel REALLY far away. But time marches on, faster and faster, it seems, and it always helps to be prepared! Can you tell I’m type-A? So before September gets here, give some thought to what you want your fall to look like. I know none of us likes to plan too far in advance these days so that we’re not disappointed and/or canceling everything, but we can at least put some tentative things in place. Do you want to be doing more client visits? Networking lunches? Do you have plans for conferences and networking events? What are your speaking engagements and fall travel looking like? Take a look at your calendar now, so that you know what the major outline looks like, and you can begin to plan the other events around what you already have booked.
I’m not suggesting that you need to have every moment planned – most of us will already have our major travel booked at this point. But it’s helpful to give yourself an idea of the broad strokes of what you’d like things to look and feel like this fall, particularly since we’ve been through so much the last few years. Would you like to be seeing more clients or doing more pitching or connecting with more referral sources, etc.? Having an idea of what you’d like YOUR fall to look like will help you to intentionally get there, rather than to have it happen to you.
Check out a new podcast
I mentioned above the idea of listening to books on audio – another way to get great information is through podcasts. I tend to exclusively listen to true crime podcasts, so I’m not the one to come to for recommendations (except for the ILN’s own Law Firm ILN-telligence podcast), but there are SO many great podcasts out there on thousands of different subjects. Listening to people share their own experiences and expertise can be a fantastic way to not only learn, but also to get the inspiration that you need to do something differently or at all. I was thrilled to hear that one of our firms used the advice that they got from another lawyer through our podcast during the pandemic to stay in closer contact with more of the attorneys at their firm. But it’s not just that kind of idea that podcasts offer – there’s something for everyone, whether it’s entrepreneurship, leadership, connection, or even podcasts in your industry area that will help you know what pains your clients are facing.
And again, something I love about them is that you never have to just sit still and listen – you can always be doing something else. I really like to listen to podcasts when I’m doing my easy runs for marathon training, because they remind me not to run too fast (which, honestly, is not a problem I’m currently having).
Summer may be a time to live more languorously, but we don’t have to be boring or even let the days slip by without useful progress towards our professional goals. The seasons change, and so do we, which can be a wonderful and delightful thing. Continue to enjoy the hazy, lazy days of summer while also making the most out of them!