Do you want to land a new client? Get hired for a different job? You may need to start thinking differently about how to get what you want.
I have noticed recently that many lawyers are forgetting, neglecting, or perhaps never learned a critical principle of developing relationships that will eventually yield remunerative benefits in the form of clients and job opportunities.
Electronic “Relationships” Are Just The Beginning
Consider these true stories of conversations I have recently had with clients (the names have been changed):
- Henry, a young lawyer who wants to move from an in-house position into a law firm, decided to do some online research to find legal recruiters who specialize in his area of the law and planned to email them his resume. When I suggested that he call those recruiters and have a conversation to explain what he’s looking for and the value he can deliver to a firm despite having limited law firm experience, there was a long pause before he said “wow, it just never occurred to me to pick up the phone and call them. That’s a great idea.”
- Alicia, another junior attorney, is using pay-per-click and buying online leads to generate business for her small suburban law firm. My recommendation to use speaking engagements and person-to-person networking to develop business in addition to her online efforts was met with a skeptical eye-roll and the question “does networking really work?”
- Then there’s Chris, a senior practitioner who is frustrated after submitting resumes to over 100 legal employers online and not getting a single response. “Maybe it’s just time to throw in the towel,” he told me. “I guess I’m not going to get another job in the law.” Leveraging personal and professional relationships in his job search had occurred to him but he had dismissed the idea. “After all,” he told me, “it’s a different world today. All the jobs are online.”
In each of these cases, my client had intended to use only digital communications to try to achieve his or her desired goal. And, every time, I advised going deeper or, more specifically, going human.
Online Relationships Are Critical But Inadequate
To an extent, Chris is right – everything seems to be online these days. Depending on your age, you’ve either grown up with the internet or, somewhere in the late 90s, decided to jump on the bandwagon. Either way, you probably can’t imagine living without it.
But whether you are emailing, friending, linking in, creating circles or communicating in any of the myriad ways now available, there is a secret ingredient that, when added to the mix, will supercharge your chances of establishing true connections that will lead to clients, jobs and, dare I say it, happiness and satisfaction.
What’s that secret ingredient? Voice-to-voice or face-to-face interaction. It still makes all the difference.
Beneficial Business Relationships Require A Human Touch
One of the primary principles of marketing is that people do business with (and give job opportunities to) those they know, like and trust. A primary principle of human nature is that human beings seek to develop meaningful, caring and trusting personal and professional relationships.
While digital interaction can be a great place to start, it shouldn’t be your endpoint. Imagine if your brother were to text you a wedding invitation to his upcoming nuptials to a woman who he had communicated with only online. You would most likely be horrified and worried and encourage him to get to know his intended in person before making such an important decision.
Why should business relationships – your livelihood – be any different?
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a legal recruiter. There is a position to fill and you have a choice between similar candidates. One simply emailed you a resume and cover letter and the other picked up the phone to call you, get a sense of what you and the employer are looking for, and let you know why she would make a perfect candidate for the job. Who are you most naturally inclined to promote? The latter candidate. Why? Because you connected with her deeply, not just digitally.
Pick up the phone and make a call.
Use video chat.
Sit face-to-face across a table for coffee, lunch or drinks.
Get human again.