Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
If you haven’t done this already, go out and see all of your key clients. Find out what they are worried about, what their current or immediate challenges are, and what they foresee as future challenges. What is going on in their day-to-day operations? Be genuinely interested in THEM. Here’s how it turned out for one of our clients: While on a call with a firm client, a junior lawyer learned of a pressing need. He communicated that need to his managing partner who immediately got on the phone with the client. Ten minutes later, at the client’s request, the managing partner met the client at this office and a few minutes after that, he secured a large mandate to help the client solve the problem the junior lawyer had learned about earlier that day. It can be THAT SIMPLE.
Get a pulse on what your clients are doing, what they need and how can you help them. To do that, you have to get out there and talk to them. The opportunity here is to create a value-based relationship. The impact of your social relationship with a client is important but will only get you so far, watch what happens when you create a value-based relationship. Business development isn’t always about getting new clients. There are opportunities with current clients. Go find them!
I find far too many lawyers put too much pressure on themselves when it comes to networking. And most of the time, the solution is in the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of networking. What is networking after-all? Well it’s not sales. You are not there to pitch yourself or your services. Networking is about meeting people. Outside of work, you meet people all the time and it’s natural. Why not take the same approach to your professional networking. This should be fun folks, not painful as it is for so many.
The way to make networking more natural for you is by taking a keen and curious approach to the people you are meeting. Get to know them. Ask questions. Questions which will lead you to understanding more about them and if you think it’s worth investing your time in building a relationship with them. One of my favorite questions to get a conversation started is “What brings you here today?”. Others include, “what do you hope to learn today?”, “how long have you been coming to these events?” Not only will you feel more comfortable when networking, but you will actually learn something about the other person, which if you choose to, you can use when following up with them.
Everyone networks whether we like it or not. And networking is still one of the best ways to find more people who need your services, find more referral sources and make it easier for them to find you. How about if you had a sure-fire way of getting the conversation started in a genuine and meaningful way? One of the best questions you can lead with is “What brings you to this event?” You’ll be amazed at the amount of information you can begin to gather about the other person when you start with that question. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to continue with your ‘soft’ target market research by asking them, “What other events do you attend and why? What publications do you read? And, What topics are of interest to you? You can gather market research, learn something about them, and keep the process natural and genuine all at the same time.
Let’s face it, if you aren’t following up with people you meet, then you’re wasting your time. Does this sound like you? Keep it simple and follow what I call the ’24-hour rule’. Within 24 hours of meeting someone new, do these two things:
1. Send them a brief email referring to something that you learned about them. Suggest you would like to continue the conversation, when are they available to meet for coffee?
2. Invite them to join your LinkedIn network. (LinkedIn is the easiest way to keep in touch and keep track of your contacts.)
Just try those two things following your next networking event.
Sure you’re already networking. But are you meeting the right types of people? Here are a couple of quick tips to ensure you are meeting more of the right types of people. Firstly, you want to make sure you are going to the right events. Simply ask your ideal clients and best referral sources where they hang? In other words what professional associations do they belong to and what events do they attend.
Then before attending your next event, reach out to the organizers to see if they will give you a copy of attendees. Target 2-3 people from that list to meet. And, circulate that list amongst your network to see if any of your existing contacts know people on the list. Have them make an email introduction of you before the event. Follow up with your own email inviting them to meet at one of the networking breaks. Finally, ask the organizers if they would introduce you to people they know. Follow these three strategies and watch your network grow.
I guess the title should be “One of the reasons I love LinkedIn”, there are so many. Here is just one example. Several years ago when I was just getting started I met a marketing professional here in Vancouver. We met, and at the time her firm was not interested in coaching. We connected on LinkedIn. Recently we re-connected on LinkedIn and are now in talks about what I can do for her firm in Toronto. That is the short version of the story. Professionals today must have a well developed LinkedIn profile, and that is only one reason.
It never ceases to amaze me who I meet at the dog park. Keep in mind, we don’t start out talking about work or business. In some cases it could be weeks or months until we know each other’s names. It is so easy to meet people where there is a common interest-in this case dogs. You could also meet people at your daughter’s soccer practice or your son’s baseball game. It’s a very natural way to meet people and expand your network. You never know when and where the opportunities will come from.
The networking ninja arrives early at the event, enters the room, looks for people they don’t know and goes right up and introduces them self They ask a question like “What brings you to this event?” Followed by, “How long have you been coming to these events?” “What value do you find by coming here?” “What other events do you attend and why?” This gets the conversation started.
From there, the other person will likely ask similar questions. So the networking ninja has their story short and succinct What they do (not their job title), where they do it, and what value if brings their clients. Then the networking ninja makes some notes and follows up with this new contact within 24 hours. The ninja searches for them on LinkedIn and sends them an invitation to join their network. Then the ninja sends them a direct email referencing something they learned at the event, with an invitation to meet for coffee. The word ‘when’ and not ‘if is used. The networking ninja has learned that a natural and genuine approach to meeting for the first time always works best.
You too can become a networking ninja.
The next time you are networking try a different approach. Don’t lead with your ‘elevator speech’, instead get the conversation started about THEM. Ask them some seed questions to begin to understand more about them and if they are people of interest. And don’t fear ‘small talk’, just don’t do it.
A great starting question is “What brings you to this event?” Some others include:
What other events do you attend and why?
Are you a member here? For how long?
What value do you get in attending these types of events?
From there a natural conversation will ensue and you will begin the process of getting to know them better. And don’t be surprised when you get to learn more about their challenges.
Raindance: The Business Development Guide Book for Lawyers is now available through Carswell. Click here to go to Carswell for more information and ordering.
If you are a lawyer just starting out with business development, or already engaged and looking to up your game, this book is your practical, step-by-step guide to follow in order to achieve your goals.