Last month we revisited the difference between sales and marketing, and how to kick your network into high gear. I also provided several tips you can use before you meet with a high value prospective client or referral source. This month we will discuss how to lead meetings by focusing on the other person and at the same time, showing them, you are a great listener. I am also providing tips on post-meeting follow-up. Your legal networking meeting follow-up is really the most important part of the meeting and will ensure you always have a next step with your best contacts.
AT THE MEETING: LEAD THE CONVERSATION BY FOCUSING ON THEM
Remember the mental agenda you created? Now it’s time to start using it. In addition, there are other things to think about as you sit down to lunch.
No 1: Ask Questions. Don’t let the discussion meander to different unstructured topics. Remember what you want to get out of the meeting, and start by asking questions like “How are you?” Then turn their response into more questions like:
- Did you take any interesting trips this winter?
- How is your business going? Which can lead to:
- Who is your ideal client?
- How could we work together to benefit both of our practices?
- Is there anyone I’m connected to on LinkedIn I can introduce you to?
- How can I help you in your business?
No 2: Take Notes. If you take a few notes, it shows you are engaged in the conversation, and that you value what the person is saying to you! It also creates an opportunity for you to note anything you promised to do for them. Too oft en lawyers get back to their offices and forget to do what they promised. So, pull out that laptop, or take notes on your phone or iPad. The key here is letting the person you are meeting with know that you care enough to take notes on what they say.
No 3: Treat Them. If you invited someone to lunch, consider paying the bill. You can always agree to let them pick up the tab the next time. Everyone likes to be treated to a meal now and then!
No 4: Agree on Next Steps. Identify any next steps you agreed to (including when you should get together again) and write it down. You always want to leave a networking meeting with a list of action items and next steps.
BACK TO THE OFFICE – BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST: FOLLOW UP
You prepared for the legal networking meeting and had a delightful time with your contact. The most important part of your lunch is your follow up when you’re back in the office. Too oft en, lawyers leave networking meetings with promises from their guest to “send you all of my xyz cases or matters” to you. We all know how uncomfortable it is to follow up on an empty promise.
No 1: Do What You Say You’ll Do. Because you were taking notes, you know you offered to introduce your contact to someone or send an article or blog post you wrote on a topic they are interested in. The moment you return to your office, take action! Make that LinkedIn introduction, refer them to your accountant, send the article outline you discussed, or present next steps on the joint presentation you could do together.
No 2: Make it Easy for Them to Refer You. Take it one step further and create a one-page document you can send to your contact that conveys:
- Your photo and contact information
- Summary of your practice
- Representative case studies (type of client, problem, your solution, result)
- Testimonials from your satisfied clients
By sending this to referral sources, you are not relying on them to position you. Rather, you are making it easier for them to refer you. You create your own messages on the value you bring to your clients. Your contact then simply emails your 1-page summary to potential referrals.
No 3: What Next? During your meeting you agreed on some action items. Make sure to schedule your next follow up with this person, even if it’s three months from now. If you don’t, the relationship will likely stagnate. Always drive next steps to ensure the relationship continues to grow. Go to your calendar and “schedule” something like, “follow up with Susan Johnson from lunch on <date> where we discussed…….”
Having a lunch meeting means more than just showing up for an hour, it’s in your best interest to spend time preparing for the meeting. During the meeting itself, focus exclusively on how you can help THEM. I know – it’s networking, but the conversation will always come back to you. When you ask timely, relevant questions, you show your contact you are genuinely interested in them – so interested you are taking notes. Then, when you get back to your office, take immediate action on what you promised to do. Don’t forget the most important part: always have a next step. Schedule a reminder on your calendar to meet with your contact again. If you implement this approach with your contacts, you will establish deeper relationships built on genuine fondness, respect, and trust. TERRIE S. WHEELER, MBC