Managing your contacts is one of the most important things that a lawyer can do to ensure long-term growth in their career. Meeting someone once does not make them part of your network, it makes them someone whom you have met once. There is a big difference between a single meeting and cultivating a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.
Simply adding someone to LinkedIn or your database and them randomly sending them newsletters or other SPAM will not endear you into their hearts. Each person is unique, and every relationship you have is different.
The influx of technology over the past twenty years have lead many people to try to systematize their business relationships. Many who think that simply sending out a scheduled client alert means they are staying top of mind with clients, prospects and referral sources are underwhelmed with their results. Some consultants have convinced lawyers that they can outsource the function of relationship management, and while this makes a lot of money for the consultant, the individual lawyer or firm that is relying on others are not really coming up with stronger connections.
The first step to managing your contact list is to have a one. This is more than just a digital version of the old Roledex that held names, addresses and phone numbers. You must embrace the best technology you can to be able to categorize and customize your lists. Not every connection should get every email blast, and you need to have a way to differentiate clients, prospects, referral sources, vendors, community members and others. Additionally you need a way to record all your touch points so that you can track your action and see evidence of results (or lack there of).
There are many software programs that lawyers can utilize for their Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but they should be using something. There are simple and sophisticated options, but to have no platform in place is a mistake. Each email, phone call, mailing, correspondence, face-to-face meeting, conversation, etc... needs to be recorded.
In addition to all contacts, a lawyer must create a priority system for whom they need to focus on for strengthening their relationships for future business development. Most people will have hundreds or thousands of contacts, but that is too many to keep in intentional and individual contact with every quarter. I suggest a list of the top 50 people you would like to move into your "sphere of influence".
While you already have some people who are very close with that refer you business (and you also mutually refer opportunities, I hope), there needs to be new people coming into your life whom you work to get to know better. Without a list of whom you want to cultivate stronger relationships, I guarantee that your busy schedule and other life responsibilities will keep you from taking the necessary actions.
Your list of 50 is a living document that will change all the time. Some people will become close allies, and others will fall off with no real value in the connection. Always be adding and removing people to your focused relationship development, but be patient. It can take years to forge the types of friendships that lead to more business.
If you contact list, and how you manage it, has not been a priority then you may not be seeing the type of results you desire in new business. All opportunities come from people, and when you make others a priority and build real relationships, you will discover why they call practicing law a "referral business".
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development. He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales. He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success. More information at www.ThomSinger.com.