Relationships only happen when we are committed to make them a priority, and that takes time and a commitment to “water” the relationship seeds we sow.
While I could outline the precise steps lawyers need to take in assembling, organizing, categorizing and systemizing their contacts, I’ll spare the reader the administrative details in this article except to point out that once the task of gathering and entering all your contacts into a central system (even Outlook does a decent job of this) is complete, lawyers would be sorely remiss if they did not “categorize” their contact names.
What does this mean?
For purposes of communicating regularly with your various constituents (clients, referral sources, prospects, etc.), no one communication message will be of interest to everyone on your contact list. That is to say, if you develop an e-newsletter or legal update on the importance of developing social media policies for the workplace and send it to your human resource clients, that topic may be of little interest to your charitable organization contacts unless they are involved in employment law issues. Basically, you want to tailor your message to an intended audience and there is no better way than to develop “categories” of contacts.
When it comes to knowing how, when and how often to reach out, paramount on most attorneys’ minds is that they do not want to be perceived as “too pushy,” “aggressive” or otherwise annoying. Understandable. One principle I often convey to my clients is that most people are so involved in their own world, business, family, etc., that you are not capturing 100 percent of their attention most of the time. In other words, to adequately “register” on your targets’ radar, there must be regular, consistent and persistence “touch points”, be they via email, telephone call, face-to-face (for which there is no substitute) or social media outlets, just to name a few.
To build and grow a healthy practice, it is imperative to develop a system of getting and staying in touch but doing so with the appropriate mindset. In short: “It’s not about you”.
Lawyers often ask me, “What is it that I’m saying to all these people?” “I don’t want to bother these folks” and other such sentiments.
My response is usually a variation on the theme of reaching out with a helpful spirit and with true intentions of checking in on your contacts’ business, seeing how they are making out with a recent transition or starting a new position, or a company move, etc. Those who sow seeds of goodwill certainly reap good things. Or, said another way, employing Newton’s law of motion, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The more “goodwill” you put out, the more it will come back to you…multi-fold.
In the next installment we will outline additional best practices for cultivating strong relationships.