Becoming Indispensable is Key to Earning Business

Posted by dscaringi on February 2, 2017

Positive relationships should be at the core of every hiring decision. This holds true across all kinds of hiring… from adding employees to bringing on outside legal counsel. When it comes to business development, it is pretty common knowledge that gaining new work from existing clients is usually easier than unearthing a brand new piece of business from someone who has no experience with you. It just makes sense– presumably you have provided an excellent service for a reasonable rate, producing solid results. It’s a great model… build trust with clients today and it will lead to new business from the same client. Sounds like a slam dunk? Sure… but, sorry… not guaranteed. So how do you gain a little more security in your ability to expand work from existing clients? Make yourself indispensable. Sounds exhausting, but arguably, it is this kind of depth that makes work satisfying.

Particularly in the legal industry, it has been a common practice for clients to require outside lawyers to understand their businesses deeply. Becoming indispensable goes further than this, however.  Here are a few things you can do to start developing your relationships and achieve ‘indispensable’ status.

  • Be the first to identify challenges and risks for the client’s business and develop solutions before they become problems.
  • Bring opportunities to the client that they may not have anticipated or otherwise accessed.
  • Be proactive as often as you possibly can, anticipating roadblocks without being overly negative.
  • Use efficiency to save the client money.
  • Be nimble and willing to change.
  • Provide thought leadership in your area that has impact on other areas of the business.
  • Make your clients’ lives easier whenever possible.
  • Add value every step of the way without charging for it.
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Working the Room. Keys to Success

Posted by dscaringi on March 17, 2016

Business development plans come in all shapes and sizes, and with all kinds of strategies to develop and nurture long term relationships leading to business opportunities. Networking is an important part of that plan. You take time to select an event to meet the people in your target market, identify who is likely to be there, practiced your quick pitch and dressed smartly. But you find yourself dreading it. Why? Because walking into a networking event forces you out of your comfort zone.  How do you make the most of the next 2 hours? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t go in cold. Since you have taken the time to identify who may be in attendance, start planning your conversation starters. Think about timely topics, industry related questions and other relevant talking points so that you may spark a conversation at a moment’s notice.
  • Dress for success. Identify the personality of the event, the business position of the attendees and the environment of the venue. Dress one step above what you think the group will be donning. Don’t wear high maintenance clothes that require your attention (read: no shirts that don’t stay tucked, plunging necklines or wraps that keep slipping off your shoulder) Make sure you have pockets to keep business cards– keep yours in one pocket and the cards you collect in the the other pocket.
  • Hold your head high. Look confident, even if you are incredibly uncomfortable in the networking environment. The old saying, “fake it ’til you make it” has some truth here.
  • Go to the furthest food station or bar. When you walk into a room, scan it. Then cross the room to the further bar or food station. This gives you time to assess the group and see who you may know. See someone along the way, stop and say hello. Don’t see anyone you know, simply get something to drink or eat and strike up a conversation with the folks next to you.
  • Prioritize your activities at the event. If you know who you want to see while you are there, find that person and connect with them early on. That way you won’t miss them if they decide to leave early or get engrossed in a deep conversation with someone else.
  • Find groups of 1s and 3s. If you don’t know anyone in the room, look for people who are either alone, or in a small group with an odd number (like 3 or 5 people). The single people will be thrilled to have someone to talk to and the groups of odd numbers allows for gentler interruption of conversation.
  • Ask questions. People love to talk about familiar topics. Ask them questions about themselves, their careers, how they know the host, etc… If you get them talking, listen to what they say for clues for conversation segues.
  • Take your turn. The conversation will eventually turn to you– so be ready to give your quick pitch. Adapt your language for any newfound commonalities amongst you and the listeners.

If networking makes you feel anxious, take a look at it through a new lens. Try to think of networking as making new friends. Take the opportunity to meet people who have a common interest as you. With thoughtful follow-up, some of these new people will blossom into long-term relationships while others may take an other path. Either way, be open to new experiences with new people. Suddenly it won’t feel like work, but rather time well spent.

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5 Tips for Highly Effective Relationship Building

Posted by dscaringi on November 12, 2015

Relationship building is crucial to lots of things in life, both personally and professionally. I think most people would agree that daily life is more rewarding when you surround yourself with people who you connect and collaborate with.  Everyone builds relationships a little differently, but one fact is universal.  Without relationships, you simply can not achieve an optimal level of success or personal satisfaction.  Here are a five tips for creating effective relationships:

  • Be there without being asked to be. Anticipating the needs of someone else is a true indicator of a strong relationship.  Help someone before they need to ask for your assistance.  Check in on a regular basis and ask how they are, what they need and how you may help them.
  • Listen.  Actively listening to someone is more than just hearing what they say.  Pay attention to tone, inflection, word choice and emotion.  Then appropriately ask questions so that you further their needs in a meaningful way.
  • Look them in the eye.  I recently read that social media, texting and email lead to a false sense of security in relationships.  Despite the ability to connect to someone 24/7, we aren’t keeping our relationships as healthy as we may think.  Human connections need to happen in person from time to time.  Body language and eye contact are important contributors to emotionally connecting with an other person.
  • Own your mistakes.  Stuff happens, as the saying goes.  When you make a mistake, regardless of the magnitude, it is important to own it. Don’t make excuses or spend lots of energy trying to back pedal.  Admit the mistake and take corrective actions to salvage (and potential strengthen) your reputation for the future.
  • Pace yourself.  Don’t overwhelm someone with your presence by being ‘in their face’ or always around.  Take time to get to know someone with making small, appropriate points of contact. A ‘too much, too soon’ approach will raise red flags and cause someone to retreat from you. Be sincere, honest and helpful but over a long period of time.  This approach shows you are reliable, available and resourceful.

Of course, there are many more ways to build positive relationships, but these 5 tips offer a great start.  Take the time to learn about people, understand their philosophy and figure out how your mutual chemistries work.  By investing yourself by getting to know someone using these tips, the more you will bring to the table and, ultimately, the more you may benefit from the relationship.

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