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.
Any rainmaker will tell you: Business development is all about people. And growing authentic, lifelong relationships is all about giving and helping, freely and for free–without expectation of a return on your efforts. 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.
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.
To Help You Help Your Network, I’ll be posting here, every few days, a new list of 5 simple ways in which my partners, coaching clients and I have, at various points in our careers, added measurable 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 integrated approach to our careers.
But it is the intangibles that resonate most deeply for me, eight-plus years after leaving the practice of law. I loved my work and I cherish the friendships made over the years. I miss it and I miss them.
Who is on your list of core and expanded lists of professional relationships? Ask yourself now how you can help the people you deal with in your work. Be creative and be real.
I hope my posts inspire you to reach out to those clients, colleagues, friends and business contacts you do not see or speak with regularly. You might even experience the transformative, and entirely legal, effects of the “helper’s high” you can read about in David Maister’s brilliant work on the power of trust in client development. Have some fun.
5 EASY WAYS WE HELPED OUR NETWORKS
- 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.
- 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.
- Introduced a prospective client’s wife, a musician now practicing law, to a conservatory director, to help identify board opportunities at area arts organizations.
- 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.
- Invited a contact to join the board of the alumni association in which both were active
Check back later for more ideas. And please, if you’d share your ideas with me I’ll pass them along to my readers and you will have done a mitzvah.
Go forth. Make some rain!
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