Do You Have the Right Network?
You’ve heard phrases like “It’s a relationship business” or “It’s all about who you know” or “He/she just knows the right people” many times. In the last several months, I can think of at least 10 situations where my husband or I have helped someone get in the door, move up the pile, make an introduction, learn inside information or provide some other assistance because of our relationship with them and our connections to others. We enjoy doing this—it’s what you do for friends and family when you are in a position to help. Think of your own situations when a friend may have helped one of your children get a job or college interview, when you helped a client fix a problem behind the scenes or when you advanced a process because of a relationship or connection. Your network and relationships make life easier for you and can help you gain introductions and even expedite the sales cycle. But the success of those connections is determined by the people in your network and how you foster those relationships.
During our client interview prep calls, we often ask about the history of the relationship or how the lawyer or firm came to represent the client. Most of the time, the work started with a personal connection or relationship with a key individual. Yet one of the biggest challenges we see lawyers facing today in building a book of business is that they do not have the right contacts. Networking is not for everyone, and the thought of building new connections is often overwhelming and daunting for natural introverts. Also, building relationships takes time and effort. If you find yourself struggling with the right network, consider the following actions:
- Focus on relationships you value and appreciate. Ask for help from those people in building your network and offer to return the favor.
- Align your personal interests and passions to expand your professional network.
- Reengage with former networks and relationships that you have let drift (law school, athletic groups, previous clients, former boards).
- Select two or three individuals you admire and who have practices you would like to emulate. Ask them specifically what they did or what they would do differently to build a deep and meaningful network.
- Schedule time on your calendar every week to connect with your network and make it as important as client work or personal matters.
- Build relationships outside of your areas of focus or law. The happiest and most successful people have diverse networks.
- Foster your most valued clients and invest in them personally and professionally.
Building a network is not a passive act that happens. It is daily or weekly intention that takes energy and effort. Focus on building relationships, helping others, adding value, connecting aligned people, making introductions, saving your clients money and time, helping them see around the corner and making their lives easier.