It’s all about relationships.
Some young lawyers have said to me, “I went to a conference and spent a lot of time trying to find folks who worked for insurance companies. I did and gave out a lot of cards. Here it is two months later, and I haven’t received any business. What did I do wrong?”
You did nothing wrong except expect have unrealistic expectations.
If you want to develop business, develop a network, or two, or three.
One of the great ways to generate business is to be with folks with whom you share a common bond. There are all kinds of relationship networks and there are all kinds of reasons to create and maintain them. They are built in different ways.
Some may come from common practice areas. If you are a property insurance lawyer, other property insurance lawyers across town, throughout your county, from around the state and throughout the nation are not your competitors, they are your network. You meet them as opponents or as co-counsel in litigated matters. They attend CLE programs at the same time you do. You encounter them at county and state bar meetings, where property lawyers gather. You meet them at DRI or ABA meetings where those with common interests break bread together. You work with them on committees, in program development, toiling at the bottom rung doing grunt work.
We all start that way. We pitch in doing phone trees for a DRI conference. We collect items for a foundation auction. We arrive early and stay late to help do something that few others want to do. And, we develop lifelong friendships from comrades in arms. I’ll talk about organizational activity in future blogs.
Those folks are the greatest source of business referrals you can have. I LOVE referring business to good lawyers throughout the country and I do so regularly. Through my affiliation with DRI, the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys and other wonderful organizations, I have met many hundreds of lawyers from every state and across the pond. I have worked with them, dined with them, cocktailed with them, shared with them and befriended them.
Nothing is more satisfying than referring business to others I respect and admire and you know what? Business comes back in droves.
But networks need not necessarily be from professional organizations. You may belong to a young lawyer’s group, a women’s network, an LGBTQ group, a Catholic lawyers organization, etc. and you can empower each other giving each other advice in our areas of specialization or concentration. “Hey Joe, my thing is no fault insurance. If you ever have a no fault question, pick up the phone.” “Mary, can you give me some advice on how to file a motion to dismiss for lack of standing …” Befriend each other, help each other, support each other, work with each other and soon you’ll have the kind of relationship that will lead to business referrals.
There are many friends who are reading this blog who know exactly what I mean and to whom I have referred business and who have referred business to me. They are folks from across the country that I lean on for help. I know who to call in Oregon, or Florida, or Rhode Island, or if I have a coverage question.
This is really funny. It proves the point. As I am typing this blog, I received an email from a lawyer in Honolulu that I met a conference in Indiana, looking for some coverage advice on a New York insurance law question. I spent 15 minutes on Westlaw, pulled up a couple of useful precedents and was happy to send them along. I have a friend forever--there is no doubt that if the matter is litigated in New York State, I’ll handle it.
Networks built on friendship, on common areas of practice, on similar backgrounds or personal interests, THEY are critically important for the development of business.
It’s all about relationships.