Lawyers, Who Is Building Your Client Relationships Today?

by JD Supra Perspectives
Contact

The idea that you would be so busy you’d send your assistant or an associate in your place to a client meeting, wearing a mask of your face and pretending to be you, is ludicrous, right?

And yet we build relationships online via proxy all the time. And not just with potential clients, but with current ones.

“That sounds crazy!” I can hear you saying. But does it? Are any of these scenarios familiar?

- Your assistant replies to an email that was sent to you, either as themselves (and on your behalf) or as you, but with such a formality in the email that it’s clear it didn’t originate with you. It automatically makes your client a bit more uncomfortable in their relationship with you – now they know there’s a third party involved, reading all of your conversations, which may make them less inclined to be honest with you, or even write at all.

Plus, it makes you seem as though you’re too important to write back yourself, which tells them that you don’t value the relationship as much as they do, and that you’re unlikely to give it your personal attention in the future. That could mean the difference between getting a piece of business or not.

We’re all strapped for time these days, and some of the busiest, most senior attorneys I know (coincidentally also the most successful attorneys) always take the time to email me back personally. It seems like a small thing, but it’s an important one – don’t delegate your relationships.  

- Someone connects with you using social media, perhaps LinkedIn. They read the articles that you’re sharing, comment on your status updates, send emails to you. It turns out that you have someone else monitoring and handling your social media, acting as you.That means you’re not the one having the relationship with that person – your ghostwriter is.

How can someone get to know, like and trust you – and want to do business with you – if you’re not the one on the other end of the keyboard?

- You debut a brand new blog on your area of the law, where posts focus on thoughtful aspects of that industry of interest to your clients, potential clients, and media sources. You actually have an associate or a ghostwriter authoring them, but you glance at them prior to publication.

What happens when potential clients or clients are commenting on the posts and opening up the lines of communication in that relationship? How about when a reporter calls you, wanting a comment on your most recent post? With your expertise, you’ll still be able to respond, but it’s not really YOU that they’re looking for.

If you’re not the one blogging, there’s no sense in having a blog – do ghostwritten blogs work? Yes, absolutely, when written under the auspices of a company or firm, and not assigned to any one voice or person. But when you’re putting your name to something, and as a result, tying your reputation and experience to it, you need to be the one behind it.

You’re not playing the leading role in your relationships...

You’re not playing the leading role in your relationships in these scenarios. The content may be all about the other person, but the one doing the building isn’t you. And when you’re building relationships, you have to make sure you're the one doing the building – as we say here a lot, people do business with those they know, like and trust. They want to…

  • KNOW the person they’re doing business with – that’s you. How can they get to know you if you’re putting an intermediary between you and them?
  • LIKE the person they’re doing business with – again, that’s you. You’re best equipped to share yourself with them, to give them reasons to connect with you.
  • TRUST the person they’re doing business with – and yet again, that’s you. How can someone trust you if they find out later that, for example, you have someone impersonating you online?

Be Authentic, Be Yourself

“Authenticity” is a huge buzzword, and many people roll their eyes when they hear it. But the reason it’s used so much is because there is a pointed lack of it in many relationships or in how people portray themselves. The best way to be authentic is to first, make sure you’re the one doing the connecting, and secondly, be yourself – share the things you believe in (within certain parameters of what’s appropriate, of course), what you like and don’t like, and who you are.

Obviously, it’s easier to be more authentic in person – as we said in the beginning, you’re not likely to send an associate to a networking event or a client meeting and have them pretend to be you. But it’s those in-between moments where a lack of the personal touch can really impact a relationship. So yes, building relationships have to focus on the other person when you’re looking at the “what” of your interactions – what do they want? What benefits them most? What will help them?

But when you’re talking about the “who” of relationship-building, it has to start with you.

What is a time-strapped lawyer to do, if not delegate some of these activities? It’s about prioritizing:

  • Identify which relationships/activities are the ones that should receive your full attention, and never delegate those. It may mean that some other activities are delegated, or crossed off your list altogether, but it’s worth it if you’re fully engaged with the people that you want to be connected to.
  • Review activities that you’re involved in to ensure that’s where your clients/potential clients are, and want you to be – which of them want calls, emails, in-person meetings? Who is spending time on social media, and which sites are they using? Do your clients read and find blogs valuable? You don’t have to be everywhere and trying to be all things to all people – think strategically about the tools that you’re using to connect, and then engage where it makes the most sense.
  • Make use of technology – are there tools that would make some of the things that you’re doing more efficient, so that you could dedicate more time elsewhere? Identify where you’re spending your time (this may be an investment up front), and how you can better manage your time overall.

Whether online or off, when someone is building a relationship with you, it should go without saying that they want it to be with you, and not someone else. Make sure that you’re the one doing the building, or you’re giving someone else the power to do the tearing down.

*

[Lindsay Griffiths strengthens lawyer connections as the Director of Global Relationship Management at the International Lawyers Network. This post was originally published on Lindsay's terrific blog, Zen and the Art of Legal NetworkingConnect with Lindsay on LinkedIn and follow her additional writings on JD Supra]

Written by:

JD Supra Perspectives
Contact
more
less

JD Supra Perspectives on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.