Networking has become a hot topic in the last 25 years. Of course, we’ve been networking forever, but more recently we’ve talked about it and engaged in it in a way that is focused and intentional. We even have groups whose stated purpose is business networking. Networking can have many purposes or can be done for a variety of reasons, such as learning more about a subject area, advancing best practices, establishing mentor relationships, and making business “friends.” Today, we are talking about how networking can grow your business.
As we have discussed before, creating and nurturing referral relationships are often overlooked in our marketing efforts but are very productive sources of clients. We call it “fishing in a stocked pond.”
Yes, some of your marketing efforts and funds should be focused on potential new clients. But those efforts require two heavy lifts: educating the target audience about you and convincing them that they should choose you over others. Using referral sources with whom you have some established relationship or that you have at least met starts with a given – they already know you.
So, who falls into the category of referral sources?
We’d venture to say all those with whom you have some acquaintance. They can be lawyers or non-lawyers. They can include people with whom you have a social connection and those with whom you have some sort of business relationship. When you begin to think about who is on the list, you’ll quickly realize how large it is. Want a quick glance at the number? Pull out your cell phone.
If it is an iPhone, click on “Contacts.” Click on “#” in the right-hand column, then scroll all the way to the bottom of the list. There you will see the total number of your contacts. If it is synced with your main contacts, I’d guess that you have thousands.
If you use Outlook, go to your Contacts tab. If you can’t see a blue number in brackets beside “Contacts,” do the following:
Shift to the Contacts view, right-click the contact folder in the Navigation Pane which you will count the total number of contacts in, and select the Properties from the right-clicking menu.
In the Contacts Properties dialog box, check the option of Show total number of items, and then click the OK button.
Now you will see the total number of contacts showing beside the contact folder name on the Navigation Pane.
Presumably, these people are listed in your Contacts because you have some type of connection.
These lists are a great place to view your potential marketing sources, and they can be exported. That exported list is a good start on a list for marketing – for newsletters, telephone calls, personal visits (lunch, a beer, etc.), or promotional items.
Are your contacts a mess? Set aside a few minutes each day and tackle two letters of the alphabet.
You’ll have it cleaned up in two weeks. You might consider designating those exempted from the anti-solicitation rule so that you don’t run afoul of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 7.3 prohibits soliciting “professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no familial or current or prior professional relationship…”
Now that you have your list, it must be maintained.
Update it when someone relocates. Be intentional about adding people to it. Who? Anyone you meet. And be intentional about networking so that you will have the opportunity to meet those you might add to the list. Tell them what you do. Find out what they do. Make networking beneficial for them and they will be more likely to do the same.