Do you regularly spend time networking and more importantly, building relationships? If not, why not? Perhaps one of your reasons is listed below:
- Hate mingling, marketing and all things associated!
- Not sure where to start and too busy any way
- Haven’t yet defined in detail the types of clients you want to recruit
- Have tried before, but it’s a waste of time
- Already have exactly the number and kind of clients desired and making more than enough money
We have endless reasons for explaining why we aren’t regularly working on building strong business relationships and honing our networking skills. Bottom line, however, is no one can afford NOT to take the building of relationships seriously in today’s competitive world….not if we want to build success stories that last, that is. Bottom line: Building relationships necessarily includes a well planned and custom-designed networking plan.
Here are a few starter tips to help you get the ball rolling:
- Make sure you have a clear and “doable” plan for your relationship building and networking efforts. Talk to others in and out of the legal industry that have impressed you with their skills at building solid relationships and successful businesses. Study different concepts and opinions on relationship building until you can form the right plan for yourself, your goals, your target client base.
- Forget, toss out and run away from the old definitions of networking (e.g. where we claimed we had “networked” by going to lawyer-only events and exchanging business cards)
- Networking and the building of relationships must include the courage, diversity and open mindedness to be bold, try new things, different strategies,etc. (reread #1 above).
- We must constantly be honing our styles of communicating with others. For example, at a networking event, we must focus carefully on being excellent listeners and learning all we can about others ( vs. the old traditional way of our doing most the talking in our efforts to educate others about what WE do)….Keeping our mouths shut is much easier said than done (for most of us any way). The more we listen and talk less, the better we’ll be able to really learn what our clients and prospective clients want, what they do, what they need, expect from us, etc. Without this type of information, we cannot offer them the legal attention and service that they need and our relationships will start (and possibly remain) on a uninformed and shaky foundation.
- Every week, take a few minutes to review what worked well for you that week and what didn’t in your networking and relationship building efforts….tweak your overall plan as needed and make sure you keep doing all the things that worked well for you.
- Patience — relationship building done right takes time…Monitor your progress, celebrate the small victories (e.g. a great lunch with a prospective client, a good lead from a referral source, a moment you finally really did listen well and talked less, etc.)
OK….way too important a subject to think we even began to cover it in this post. I do hope it helps you get your ball rolling in these critical areas and as always, please reach out to me with your input, ideas, questions or if any clarification is needed. And, since I write all of my posts with a strong southern slang, you might just need a translation where the twang was especially heavy!).
Thanks for “listening.”