I couldn’t begin to tell you what it means to me to have been recognized at the “Your Honor Awards” ceremony in Boston last week. My beloved trade association, the Legal Marketing Association’s New England Chapter, has always been a huge part of my professional life. I first joined in 1998 as a means to learn as much as possible about the industry I had just become a part of. The educational component of LMA is a great asset. Something that I have come to know intimately as I serve my third consecutive term as the programming chair.
But even more than the content I have encountered over the years, I find my connection to the LMANE membership has reached a much deeper level in the past 5 years or so. I developed excellent friendships and business relationships. People who know this industry and what it means to help others do what they fear most, sell their services. There is a kinship that comes along with tackling a difficult job that connects you deeply. This is why the LMA has always been important to me. My experience in this group has made me a firm believer in giving more than you take in order to be successful.
All I can say is thank you. Thank you for giving me more than public recognition. Thank you for helping me build my knowledge, network and friendships. I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been named an LMA New England Chapter Star for service to this chapter. I encourage everyone to find their ‘LMA’ and enjoy the experience!
In our electronically driven world, it is easy to lose sight of the strength of superb customer service. We talk in sound bites. Tweet in under 140 characters. Text in code. But what is this doing to our relationship skills? Are we short-changing ourselves by not practicing the basics of relationship building in our every day interactions?
The reality? There isn’t much choice but to participate in our ‘short-hand’ style world. But we do have a choice in how we treat people. Here are a few things to help keep your interpersonal skills limber.
- Make a good first impression. It is proven that first impressions matter. We get about 10 seconds to make our mark. Make sure you pay attention to how you present yourself. Make the recipient of your impression feel important and comfortable with a smile, positive body language and eye contact.
- Be appreciative of people. Take the time to thank people for their time in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
- Write thank you notes when you can. Whether you send your note by snail mail or electronically, make sure you make an effort to confirm your gratitude.
- Be helpful. Ask leading questions to help you to uncover what they really need from you and then fill that need.
- Be reasonable. Give people the benefit of the doubt and be trusting.
- Ask for feedback. Take a few minutes to ask people how they are doing and what they think about your services. Take their suggestions to heart and improve whenever possible.
- Do the small stuff. Take a minute to go the extra mile when answering a question, directing someone or assisting them with completing their task.
Taking a few minutes to slow down, ask questions and show thanks is really the foundation for any successful relationship. We live in a crazy paced world, but there is a true appreciation for solid customer service that ultimately builds long-term loyalty.
At a recent LMA New England chapter meeting, I listened intently to David Ackert discuss motivating attorneys to consistently use business development in their practices. It was a great program and I gained lots of ideas to implement. However, one thing David said really stuck with me. It is very similar to something I often tell my clients. Marketing and business development is a learned behavior for many of us. It doesn’t just happen naturally without any effort. People often declare that they will make a commitment to business development once or twice a year but never act upon it. How about this: instead of making an annual commitment to business development activities, let’s try starting with a daily 10 minute commitment each week? Instead of starting to market your practice or business in January or September, don’t wait. Start Now…. yup, on February 19th. Nothing special about today. But it’s a good day to begin taking small steps towards your success. So, what kind of marketing can you get done in 10 minutes? Here is a starter list:
- Update your bio. Make any edits that add interest, value or credibility.
- Call your best referral sources and thank them for sending you business.
- Connect two people you know who may benefit from knowing each other.
- Look up the next networking event at a bar association, trade group or other business organization and sign up for the next event. Put it in your calendar and commit to attend it.
- Email a referral source and set up a lunch date.
- Set up a time to visit a client on their location.
- Use social media. Follow clients, post status on Linked In or Facebook and Tweet a few times.
- Walk into one of your colleague’s offices and ask them what kind of work they are doing right now.
- Start a post/article to use on the firm’s blog or website or in your social media outlets.
Whatever activity you choose to undertake isn’t really the focus. The idea is to make a 10 minute weekly investment in developing your relationships, building marketing communication tools and giving yourself visibility. Once you have this habit in place, build on it. Add 10 more minutes each week, either consecutively or on an other day. By doing something routinely, you will see the cumulative effects. Good luck!