How To Start a Relationship
I like long walks on the beach and romantic dinners.
Want to get married?
That is the WRONG way to start a relationship.
Yet most business people try to start a relationship in exactly that way.
They walk up to you, introduce themselves, and ask you to do business with them.
Lawyers are even worse.
They walk up to you. Try to make small talk. And then twitch uncontrollably because they are not allowed to ask for business but that’s what their instinct tells them they should do.
It would be funny if it didn’t happen so often.
Here is the right way to start a relationship:
First: Identify the Right Person
This sounds basic but most people miss this key point. You should decide who you want to meet based upon what you can do for them.
Wow. Think about that for a moment.
It’s called having an external orientation.
If you can help someone (or better yet put money in his pocket) he will be receptive to your message.
Second: Get Introduced
These days, between social media and email, there are a number of ways to identify people with whom you share a connection.
Walking up to a stranger is difficult because 1). The person doesn’t know you 2). The Person doesn’t like you and 3). The person doesn’t trust you.
If you are introduced, you bypass those three hurdles.
This happens because you immediately benefit from the likability and trust your target has invested in the person who is introducing you.
Third: Establish Rapport
Talk about things you have in common with your new friend. Community activities, family activities, sports teams and events in the news are all great topics many of us have in common. You can spend a few minutes doing research in advance and pick a couple of topics or you can let this happen naturally.
Fourth: Introduce Your Opportunity to Help
Now you are ready to become fast friends. Find a person to whom you can introduce your new friend. Ask about this potential introduction in advance (just in case your new friend has an issue with this opportunity).
Make a time certain commitment to make this introduction.
Finally: Follow-Up with the Introduction
Make the introduction between the two parties. This will help you cement your relationship with your new friend. If you really want to establish yourself as a “go-to” person, introduce your new friend to a few people before you ask him for a favor.
This may seem like a great deal of work. In fact, you may not want to go through all of this work just to develop a new relationship.
But that thinking is what is holding you back right now.
My clients have used this exact strategy to meet heads of Fortune 500 companies, public officials, and famous book authors.
Stop thinking about why this won’t work and follow these simple steps.
Your law firm and your bank account will reap the rewards.
The Key to Successful Networking for Attorneys
Last week I spoke at a conference for litigators. After one of my sessions, I met a few of the attendees in the restaurant and they invited me over to their table for a drink. As you can imagine, the subject of attorney marketing came up. They wanted to specifically talk about networking for attorneys.
A sharp guy from a big, successful firm said:
“Dave, come on. How hard can it be? You go to a couple of meetings. You shake some hands. You hand out a few business cards and when people need you, they call you.
Obviously this was not someone who had done much successful networking as an attorney.
There was some banter about how those large meetings were usually a waste of time and how people at those meetings usually wound up talking to folks they already knew.
All the while, I listened intently and sipped my drink. Then, when someone I asked for my networking strategy, I gave it to them…and it blew their mind.
Here’s what I told the attorneys sitting around the table:
Networking is simple. After you meet someone and exchange pleasantries, you only need to ask two questions in order to develop a productive relationship with them.
Question 1: “What’s your biggest work related challenge?” (As an alternative: “What’s keeping you awake at night?”)
Question 2: “Who can I introduce you to that would transform your business/career?”
Those are magic questions. Ask them and a great conversation will follow.
Why do these work so well?
- They shift the conversation to the other person. People love to talk about themselves.
- The person you are speaking with will immediately like you because you asked about him.
- A person thinking about the second question will drop his/her guard. He will immediately go into a stream of conscious dialogue about his needs.
- You have a clear opportunity to demonstrate value to this person.
This fourth point is critical.
If you can help this person either; 1) solve the problem that is keeping him awake or 2) introduce him to someone that can transform his business, you will have an ally and/or client for life.
But that’s not always possible. More likely, you will have made a memorable impression on this person (because you discussed his business and things that were important to him) and he will refer you some business when he can.
Here’s the important part of this networking process:
If you ask these questions often enough, you will eventually be able to match people up almost at will.
This means when person “A” says he wants to meet person “B” you may know person “J” who is in the same industry and holds the same title but with a different company. So even though you didn’t make the introduction to person “B” you were still able to connect people who could do business.
This skill, which I call interpersonal networking, is the business version of matchmaking. It has been one of my strongest business development tools throughout my career.
The attorneys at the table were enthralled. It seemed so simple yet none of them were doing it.
The next morning when I came down to the conference, the entire place was buzzing. It seems they had an online discussion board and this exercise had taken over the discussion. Now everyone was matching people up and more than a few strategic alliances had been formed.
I’m not certain if this particular strategy has any relevance to you and your law firm marketing initiatives. But I do know a group of attorneys who have made it their number one priority.
Oh, yeah, a few of them have also sent me some referrals as well…imagine that…
Below is a podcast I recorded on successful networking. Enjoy it as an additional resource to get your business off on the right foot.
Push play to listen to this live on your desktop.
Download the link below to save the podcast.
Three Core Strategies For Lawyer Marketing
Sometimes the marketing world can seem confusing. This is especially true with all the ads on display at events, social media buzz, and salespeople constantly calling on the telephone. Many lawyers are already at the point of marketing overwhelm.
That’s why it makes sense to take a step back and break down marketing for lawyers into three primary strategies. These are the basic application of your skills. They can be applied in a number of ways, but at their core, there are only three specific things that require your focus.
You may be wondering how this is possible when you hear about social media and internet marketing and referral services.
Ultimately, all lawyer marketing comes down to these three strategies in one form or another. Let’s look at the different variations:
- Speak at conventions or events hosted by others
- Speak at events you host yourself
- Develop and provide educational content (through speaking) for people who may refer business to you
- Offer videos of you covering topics on the internet (Youtube, other video sharing sites, your website)
- Provide audio content of your topics in a podcast
- Give media interviews and commentary on your area of expertise
All of these variations and the dozens of others I did not mention stem from you giving a speech or talk to a group of people. If you have the skills (or can develop the skills) to do that, you can apply those skills to multiple venues for the purposes of lawyer marketing.
- Write and publish your work yourself (on a website, blog or other internet vehicle)
- Write for trade magazines and publications
- Write and publish your own newsletter
- Write and send direct mail
- Author a book
There are hundreds of possibilities for written content. Articles, newsletters, magazines, books all need experts to provide information. Fill this need.
Networking is not necessarily about attending meetings of groups, shaking hands and passing out business cards. It is also connecting with people in a one-to-one setting.
Here are some ways you can leverage networking:
- Reach out to people in the news and congratulate them on their notoriety (if they are in the news for something positive).
- Send a hand written note to a person you admire each day.
- Look up the charitable causes of people you respect and offer to help them.
- Volunteer for a leadership role in organizations where you can apply your talent
- Find elements of commonality between you and someone you want to meet and reach out using the common ground as a platform
- Attend meetings of groups and identify specific people with whom you’d like to interact and seek out those people.
These are just a few of the many networking possibilities that present themselves in everyday life. Take advantage of them and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Marketing does not have to be complicated, even for lawyers. These three core strategies make it simple. Pick one and get started today and add others as time goes on.
The key is to select a strategy that is in your comfort zone and it will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Most People Will Never Use This Powerful Business Success Secret
Many lawyers say they get clients by networking. I hate that word. Networking. When most of us think about networking we think about going to meetings with groups of people passing out business cards, shaking hands and trying to sell something.
That’s not what I mean by networking.
True networking involves understanding the value someone provides and matching that value with someone who needs it.
Whenever I meet someone new I ask them two key questions:
“What do you do better than everyone else?”
“What’s keeping you awake at night?”
Then I spend the rest of my career matching people up – paring strengths with issues.
When you do this, you develop deep relationships with people because they know you care about them.
You demonstrate this caring by:
1). Helping people use their greatest talent
2). Helping people solve their greatest problem
This is such a simple concept it begs an additional question:
“Why don’t more people do this?”
My answer is probably something you would not expect…
More people don’t do this because it requires emotional investment in others and diligent effort in furtherance of the agenda of another human being with the promise of nothing in return.
This is called having an external orientation.
You must be focused on other people to use this successfully.
What results can you expect?
Three out of five times (60% of the time) people will do nothing. You will, in some cases, change their lives, their businesses and their future. And people will either not remember you did it or they will pretend to not remember. As a result, you will receive noting in return other than the satisfaction of having made this person’s situation better.
One time in five (20% of the time) the person will be grateful. He will express this gratitude to you. That will feel good. At some point in the future this person will (either actively or passively) do something that benefits you in some way. These people will be loyal to you for life. You can commit offensive acts and these people will defend you. This person will feel a deep emotional bond with you forever.
One time in five (20% of the time) is a magical experience. This person will move heaven and earth and deliver some sort of value to you in excess of anything you could have ever done for him.
This article describes the single greatest success philosophy I have ever learned and practiced.
Just about everything I have accomplished in my career, to this point, has come in part because of this philosophy.
I’m sharing it with you because someone once shared it with me and I put it into practice and it changed my life.
You need to ask yourself: “Do I want my life and my business to improve dramatically?” And “Am I willing to help others selflessly in order to achieve that result?”
If the answers to those questions are: “Yes,” then you must go out and begin to put this philosophy into practice.
Most people won’t.
But if you do, you must promise you will, one day, pass along this external orientation strategy to as many people as possible. Because it not only improves businesses, it can change the course of people’s lives and make the world we live in slightly better.
How Attorneys Pass Good Quality Referrals
Have you ever received a referral that just didn’t work out?
Of course you have.
We all have.
The platinum standard of referrals is a meeting which is facilitated specifically for the purpose of introducing the two parties.
The next best thing, the gold standard, is to get both parties on the telephone and make the introduction that way.
The worst way to pass a referral is by doing an introduction. This is where an email is sent introducing both parties and contact information is exchanged.
If you want a complete explanation of each of these techniques and reasons why you should pass referrals using the platinum standard (hint, you get back what you give) watch the video below.
A big part of marketing for lawyers is done through passing referrals. Take the time to get it right.
By the way, sending someone a name and a phone number is NOT a referral. It is an invitation to make a cold call. That’s garbage. Don’t do it.