The Art of Small Talk

Posted by dscaringi on July 23, 2014

It is summer and the social calendar is booked with all kinds of activities!  Whether you are attending a business event or a personal BBQ, you will be in face-to-face situations where you will need to strike up a conversation.  This prospect strikes fear in many people. I often hear that people say they “dread small talk.”  That they “just can’t get started.” That is is “meaningless.”  I argue that none of the above needs to be the case.  Here are a few steps for smoothing out the distaste for striking up conversations:

  • Approach an individual or a group of 3 people and introduce yourself. It is easier to break into groups of odd numbers.
  • Prepare 3 topics to talk about before you arrive so that you have them ready to use “on the fly.”
  • Prepare 4 event-related or business-related open-ended questions that get people talking.
  • Be the first to say ‘Hello’ to someone.
  • Avoid negative or controversial topics.
  • Avoid religion and politics.
  • Introduce new people you meet by name to others at the event and mention information about the person to help transition to conversation.
  • Repeat the names of the people you meet.

The best thing about small talk?  It potentially leads to BIG talk that builds meaningful relationships.


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Happy 4th of July!

Posted by dscaringi on July 2, 2014

During the coming week, I urge you to take a moment to pause and celebrate our mutual freedom in this country.  We have so much opportunity to explore together!

I will resume blogging on marketing and business development topics later this month!

Thank you for reading my blog.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Building Transition into Long-Term Succession Plans

Posted by dscaringi on June 26, 2014

As the year gets to its mid-point, I often get questions related to retirement from senior-level attorneys.  The story is pretty typical. They want to slow down, relieve some of the demands of their practice, but still keep their clients happy and well cared for.  Perhaps most importantly, they want their clients to stay with their firms. Many firms do not have a formal succession plan in place, and so this becomes a stressful, complicated situation that doesn’t have a cookie cutter resolution. In fact, each transitioning senior-level attorney find that they have much to consider in this process.  Worries such as timing, which attorneys can live up to your service standards and what will compensation look like. After a lifetime of supporting clients, these worries weigh heavy on them.

Much like developing business, transitioning business needs to be very personalized. Here are a few steps to get started.

  • Each senior-level attorney should study their contacts and referral sources to identify who needs immediate attention and who can be addressed a little later.
  • Once the contacts are prioritized, consider each client’s or referral source’s personality, style, needs and goals.
  • Consider which mid-level or junior attorneys within your firm best compliment each client and referral source.
  • Personally connect the mid-level or junior attorneys to the selected clients and referral sources, making sure to communicate that this attorney is personally selected for their legal team.
  • Following the introduction, senior attorneys can begin weaving the younger attorneys’ service into each interaction.
  • Over time, the senior attorney should do less and less legal work for the client, but still maintain the relationship to ensure the transition is completed smoothly and that trust is transferred to the younger attorney.
  • The younger attorney must take the time to get to know the client ‘off the clock’ to build trust, understand their needs and develop a service-focused relationship.

Succession planning should happen over a long period of time. Thoughtful communication of your plans, as well as well-planned timing for making introductions should be considered as well so that you don’t make a sweeping announcement and open the door for your contacts to ‘shop’.  Help them solve this last issue by being proactive, resourceful and thorough. The result will be happy clients and referral sources and a better chance the firm will retain the business you worked so hard to get in the first place.

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