Thanks to the holidays, there are more networking opportunities in December than any other month of the year… if you know where to look.
Referral Source Parties: Most of your referral sources have already decorated their lobbies and ordered the finger food for their December holiday party. Make it a point to ask them if their firm is hosting an open affair. If so, let them know that you’d be interested in attending. And check your SPAM folder to make sure you haven’t already overlooked a valuable e-vite or two.
Client Offices: Each year, Thomson Reuters surveys North American law firms on their most productive business development activities. Without exception, “client site visits” rank among the top results. Site visits afford the opportunity to get to know the various people in your client’s legal department, the decision-makers in the company’s C-suite, and the business in general. Offer a CLE to the legal department and plan to spend the day on site. Show up with a bottle of holiday cheer. Take your clients out to a holiday lunch. Walk the factory floor. Show a genuine interest in your client’s business and its operations. You will deepen key relationships and learn about new issues that could easily turn into your next matter.
Your Building: Ever wonder about all those people who file in and out of the elevator every day? instead of staring at the numbers on the wall, turn to the person standing next to you and show a little seasonal warmth. Ask them what they do in the building. Show some curiosity about the line of business they are in and the kinds of services they need. With a little luck and gregariousness, you may turn your neighbor on the elevator into your next client.
The Plane: It’s a smart practice to get to know the people who sit next to you on the plane, especially when you travel first or business class. Start by asking them if this is business trip or if they’re traveling for the holidays, then ask a few follow-up questions that help you get to know them. Even if they don’t happen to be the GC or CEO, they may be able to make a connection through their network. On a coast-to-coast flight, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more captive audience for quality networking.
LinkedIn: The world’s largest professional network is a fruitful resource all year long. Take advantage of the fact that your office will quiet down toward the end of December. Spend a few minutes searching the LinkedIn connections of your best referral sources, clients, and closest colleagues. Their networks are rife with opportunities for your practice. Once you identify an interesting person in their circle, pick up the phone and let them know that you are interested in knowing more about their relationship and learning if an introduction might be appropriate.
The holiday season, and its social opportunities, will be over before you know it. This December, seek out your next client in the aforementioned places so that you can enjoy a more fruitful 2017.
[David Ackert is a business development mentor to lawyers and their firms. Through his companies at Ackert Inc., he provides coaching and technology solutions that originate clients and generate growth.]