25 Easy Ways to Help Your Network…and Grow your Law Practice

If you just want to skip ahead–then jump to the list. It’s pretty self-explanatory, at least if you’re a “giver” (not just a “matcher”) by nature–as Wharton Professor Adam Grant would put it. I hope it inspires you!

Any rainmaker will tell you: Giving and helping are everything. The ideal way to build and deepen your rapport with your clients, prospects, colleagues, referral sources and other important contacts is to learn as much as you can about each person and identify what he or she needs to be successful and fulfilled. Once you’ve done that, things get very simple. You just need to help meet those needs.

Jim Durham and Adam Grant said it best:

There should be a note on every lawyer’s desk that says “What have I done today to make the people I am dealing with more successful and more comfortable?”

James A. Durham, “The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering” 

If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.

Adam M. Grant, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success”

So if your marketing plan consists mainly of “random acts of lunch” then you’ll want to make some changes. If you take a prospect to a baseball game, then never call her again because she doesn’t send you any work, you’ll want to push the reset button.

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To Help You Help Your Network, I have compiled a list of 25 simple ways in which my partners, coaching clients and I have, at various points in our careers, added tangible value to our networks.

To be clear, none of the personal efforts my partners and I made on behalf of others were coldly strategic.  Rather, our approach to building business relationships yielded many lasting friendships, and our willingness to help, in times of crisis and otherwise, and whether or not asked, was — or became — second nature. (This is an enormously satisfying way to live. It just so happens that it is good business as well.)

In the process, we built and nurtured important professional relationships and established reputations as skilled lawyers, savvy business people, reliable advisors and loyal and decent human beings. Our profitable law practices are tangible testimony to our commitment to this approach to our careers.

But it is the intangibles that resonate most deeply for me, seven years after leaving the practice of law. I loved my work and I prize the friendships made over the years. I miss it and I miss them.

Who is on your A-List?  Your B-List? Ask yourself now how you can help the people you deal with in your work. Be creative and be real. I hope this list inspires you!

25  EASY WAYS WE HELPED OUR NETWORKS

  1. Assisted various clients, prospects and other contacts by suggesting a dog walker, a contractor, a real estate broker, a chiropractor and—true gold—a reasonably priced plumber.
  2. Emailed a referral source to subscribe to his firm blog, followed the blog closely until he posted an especially topical, useful article, then shared it broadly on social media.
  3. Introduced a prospective client’s wife, a musician now practicing law, to a conservatory director, to help identify board opportunities at area arts organizations.
  4. Met with a referral source’s college age child to answer her questions about law school and law practice and provide useful introductions. Recommended business school.
  5. Invited a contact to join the board of the alumni association in which both were active.
  6. Calendared the date (a year in advance) of the Bat Mitzvah of a client’s daughter. Sent a card and appropriate gift that week.
  7. Invited an influential justice to be the keynote speaker at her firm’s women lawyer’s retreat.
  8. As an associate, monitored a senior partner’s new client and its CEO on Twitter and via Google Alerts, catching a breaking news story first and passing it along to the delighted partner.
  9. Wrote a thoughtful and articulate LinkedIn recommendation, on his own initiative, for an accountant who had ably assisted him on a transaction.
  10. In a crisis situation, recommended oncologists at both MGH and Johns Hopkins for a client, by promptly sourcing college and law school friends.
  11. Helped a distressed client sort out a pressing personal conflict at work, during a late night call she took at home.
  12. Located reasonably priced lawyers for a prospect’s teenage son arrested on a DUI charge, and for a friend’s client who was much in need of a divorce lawyer.
  13. Following the closing of a long and difficult transaction, sent a hand-written note thanking the client for the business, and including a gift prompted by one of the funnier developments in the deal.
  14. Wrote a letter of support for a contact’s child at the school my child attended.
  15. Sent a prospect a subscription to a nutrition newsletter, after discovering, to mutual amusement, common anxieties about pesticides and other food pollutants.
  16. Monitored the then new elder care law practice niche—after a referral source mentioned considering that growing new field.  Located commentary, data and blogs, and passed along the relevant links.
  17. Attended a national trade conference attended by clients and prospects,and rented a van to ferry the whole contingent to after dinner events.
  18. Introduced a client’s high school daughter to a niece, who offered to give her a personal tour of her college campus and invited the client’s kid to stay overnight at her dorm.
  19. Invited a prospect to speak on a well attended webinar she moderated.
  20. Promoted a range of people on social media, via strategic posts, blog comments and thoughtful commentary.
  21. Visited a client’s offices to meet new in-house staff and catch up on her company’s business, market and industry, and the progress of her career.
  22. Alerted a referral source that tickets to Green Day’s American Idiot concert were going on sale the next day at 10:00 am. Same for Springsteen’s most recent tour.
  23. Convened an off-meter conference call with several banking clients to gather their comments and suggestions on the pure-business, and industry specific, provisions of their credit documents.

    Various van regulars…See #17.

  24. Stopped by the offices of a referral source (a political history buff) to drop off the third volume of Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, on the day it hit the shelves.
  25. Introduced two banking contacts, one looking for a new loan officer and one freshly out of a job, with excellent results.

Go forth. Make some rain!

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