by Placer County Bar Association / July 2, 2020
Guest blog written by Jennifer Forester, reprinted from Placer County Bar Association with permission of the author.
No doubt, we all want a safe path toward economic recovery and a more physically connected business world. But the evolution will not happen overnight. This mid-pandemic scenario is ripe for a recalibration of your business development playbook and mindset. We have an opportunity to embrace change and adopt new means of strengthening connections with clients, colleagues, and referral sources.
While traditional forms of networking may be sidelined for the foreseeable future, your business relationships don’t need to languish because you can’t connect in person. Rethink power lunches, industry conferences, after-hours mixers, and chance encounters by leaning into virtual modes of interacting. Opportunities abound to stay top-of-mind with key contacts, foster camaraderie among peers, and maintain momentum for your practice through remote and virtual tactics. Consider the following “ABCs” of virtual networking.
Always Be Curious. Now is the time to LISTEN more intently than ever – and there is no better way to foster loyal, business-driven relationships than by asking good questions and suspending self-interest. An outgrowth of the SIP-induced Zoom bandwagon is that many clients and referral sources are now more comfortable discussing their personal lives alongside their business problems. Embrace the chance to build goodwill and deepen trust on an emotional level. Pick up the phone or schedule a video chat and listen carefully for ways to solve problems (especially the kind you would not bill for). Bring your empathy and humanity to the equation by always being curious beyond the business at hand.
Always Be Connecting. In last month’s Marketing Mindset article, I made a case for cultivating critical connections on the regular. As we enter a reopening phase of the lockdown, I urge you to stay mindful, authentic, and intentional with VIP networking, whether virtual or in real life. Try stepping into the role of super-connector by making introductions between colleagues, clients, collaborators and others in your inner circle. When it comes to prospects and warm leads, know it takes 7 to 14 touchpoints before you even get to a buying conversation. And don’t overlook the power of LinkedIn for light touches and personal branding. Sell yourself marketing time every day/week so that you can always be connecting.
Always Be Creative. Compelling invitations for interaction and learning will attract clients to your virtual events. Create book clubs, watch parties, game nights, social media groups, thought leadership roundtables, and larger-scale webinars. Seek ways to partner with accountants, consulting firms, investment bankers, insurance brokers, real estate agents, and other professionals that share your target audience. Pivot outside your lawyer brain and give yourself permission to be creative with client outreach.
Always Be Conferencing. Many lawyers build a routine business plan around attending annual industry conferences. As those marketing moments have transformed into virtual formats or been pushed into 2021 altogether, savvy business developers will recalibrate these opportunities in order to always be conferencing. Reach out to the clients you would have seen in real life and plan a call or video chat around one of the would-be session topics. If you typically host a client dinner, recreate the meet-up with a virtual happy hour. Strike up an online conversation with a speaker you regard – they will relish the professional outreach and potentially offer to co-present a future topic with you. Offer assistance to the conference organizers who may be looking to fill educational gaps with off-season webinars or blog posts. If the conference goes virtual, amplify the expert speaker voices by recapping their top talking points and sharing to your LinkedIn network. Pay it forward by hosting a lunch-n-learn with your practice group or internal peers and teach the take-aways you learned during the conference.
As you re-engineer your marketing mindset amid near-term limitations and long-term reverberations, add virtual networking techniques to your business development playbook. They can be powerful yet inexpensive forms of engagement.
About the Author: Jen Forester is a business development coach and affiliate member of the Placer County Bar Association. She is offering complimentary speed coaching sessions for any member who would like level up their marketing game. Connect: www.linkedin.com/in/jenforester/