Among my most popular posts last year were those dedicated to talking about LinkedIn, which tells me that it continues to be the tool that resonates most in the legal industry. I know that it’s in part because it’s become such a robust and useful platform, but I also suspect that it’s in part because some of us are still hoping that there’s a silver bullet out there when it comes to networking and relationship building. I hate to tell you – there isn’t. Even when you’re using social media, which can supersize your efforts, you still need to have goals, develop a plan, and invest time and effort in order for it to pay off for you. 
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It’s easy to think that the hard part of networking is the event itself, and if we can navigate that successfully, we’ve done our jobs well and the work will come in. But a big part of successful relationship development is continuity, and that means following up AFTER an event to ensure that you don’t drop off the other person’s radar. Particularly at this time of year, it’s easy to become very busy and distracted (both you and your prospects!) and no longer be top of mind with someone that you really may want to be better connected to.

So what should you do after a networking event? FOLLOW UP!
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Daily, we interact with lots of people – this happens in person, at our offices, in the coffee shop, at our kids’ sporting events or art classes. It happens online, through our group chats, text messages with friends, Facebook shares, LinkedIn comments, etc. We interact so much and so frequently, that we’ve reached a real saturation point with these interactions, and even with our professional messages, we can see a lack of care that a lot of us are giving to the details over the tools and the shiny new thing. Instead, we’re just blindly producing more and more and more and more, adding more noise (as Adrian Lurssen would say). 

If you’re sure that YOU are producing things of value, and not just more noise, ask someone in your circle if they can remember the last thing you shared on LinkedIn, or the last article you wrote. If they can’t, chances are, you’re not producing anything memorable. You’re not creating connection in your relationships. 
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Content marketing can feel like the opportunity to be the author or podcaster or speaker that you’ve always wanted to be.

But when done strategically, it’s about building relationships with clients and potential clients, and providing additional value to them that will make you top of mind when they have a matter that requires your expertise. When you bear that in mind as an end goal, it’s a reminder that you can’t simply put out content – you need to build an audience. 
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Content marketing is a tool in your arsenal for building effective business relationships.

But like any tool, it’s not going to be useful to you if you don’t use it efficiently. In the past, you could get away with producing *something* and getting the attention of a client or potential client, because you were the only one writing or talking about it. But today, content is so ubiquitous, that if you’re not standing out, you risk being relegates to background noise. 
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We know and are comfortable with the idea that the legal industry is a business of relationships. Lawyers do good work, their clients talk about it (hopefully) and that brings them other clients. That’s the basic principle behind the standard “word of mouth” reputation.

But with the introduction of technology, and in particular, social media, the way that we form first impressions of people and build the relationships that lead to referrals has changed. It’s not simply about doing good work anymore – it’s about whether your online reputation matches your offline reputation, and meeting people where they are. Let’s look at two pieces of this, referrals and first impressions.

Referrals

As someone who espouses social media, something that I hear fairly often is “But am I really going to get BUSINESS from using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc?”
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In today’s Rainmaking Recommendations post, expert and coach, Jaimie Field is discussing a pet peeve of mine, slacking on your business development in the summer. Read on to find out why you may want to double down instead.

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Want to be a Rainmaker? Then it doesn’t matter what time of year it is.

Many people, lawyers included, tend to go on Rainmaking hiatus when summer rolls around. For some, the kids are out of school, vacations are being taken, and there are half-days on Fridays.  But now is not the time to slack off. 
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Depending on your business/relationship development goals and strengths, one of your strategies may be to write and share content. When you’re considering augmenting your reputation and building your practice, it might seem counterintuitive to share the spotlight with someone else by quoting or referencing them in your articles and posts, but I’m here to tell you that it’s both essential, and a good business development practice. How so? 
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Lawyers know better than most people that words matter – after all, who knows better than a contract lawyer that a nuanced clause can make or break a deal?

But who knows better than your marketing team that “marketing” is a four-letter word?

It shouldn’t be – and I’ll explain why in a moment.

But how many of you (raise your hands) think of marketing as something that some group in your office does once in a while?

How many of you think of marketing as brochures and advertisements?

How many of you think marketers are just people who ask you for money and then put pretty logos together or make sure you have enough business cards?

Okay, put your  hands down. I’ve got news for you – marketing is everything you do.
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