Advanced technology was supposed to free us up to work less, spend time with our loved ones and pursue hobbies. Instead, these devices are just shackling us to work and creating blurred lines between our work and personal lives. Everyone is just working more, and that’s especially apparent in our industry.
In the past few interviews I’ve conducted, clients have spent a lot of time talking about the importance of the “personal relationship” and having connections with outside counsel. They don’t want to socialize more or be your best friend. But they do want to enjoy the increased interactions and feel like outside counsel are invested in their success. Our research also indicates a steady increase in clients who want a personal relationship with outside counsel. To give you a few examples directly from clients:
“I’ve got to just work with people I like. Life is too short. I mean, what’s the point? The day is just too long if you aren’t talking to people you like and enjoy talking to. And the older I get, the less patience I have for dealing with people I don’t like.”
“In reality, we are not sitting around measuring or differentiating law firms. It’s about the personal relationships I have with the lawyers in those firms. It’s really all about that comfort and trust with the people you work with.”
“Some professionals like to tell you what to do, but these guys invest personal capital in you, and that’s what I think stands out.”
“I will send a project to someone I respect, like and want to work with. He is that kind of person. He knows my family and I know his. I’m not compromising on quality or paying more because of the personal relationship, but when I work with him I get the benefit of also liking him.”
Keep these tips in mind to more deeply develop the personal relationships your clients crave:
- Know your clients’ preferences and adapt your work and communication style accordingly.
- Don’t take your clients for granted. Pay attention to them even when you aren’t working on something specific.
- Give clients your full attention when you are with them or on the phone.
- Don’t be arrogant or condescending.
- Don’t waste their time.
- Identify how you can help them be successful or make their lives easier.
- Put yourself in their shoes when offering solutions or advice.
- Ask for feedback and advice.
- The little things matter a lot. Drop a note of thanks or remember important milestones in their lives, for example.
- Be honest.
- Say thank you!