Use holiday parties for event mining

J. Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm for law, finance and small business professionals. Nick is experienced in law, business, entertainment, public relations and his Secured Solo Practice™ agency model. Nick enjoys sharing career growth, strategy and experience with legal job seekers and attorneys in transition.

Many attorneys in transition are those who build books of business through community activities and presentations. I like the “everyone has a neighbor” rule of thumb: assume that everyone you talk to is a few degrees from being your next client or referral. This holiday season we all have social events where we might meet people to work on event collaboration. They key to collaboration is an open mind and an ear to the ground so that we don’t miss great opportunities to tell people what we do.

If you follow a few points of advice this holiday season then you will likely start the new year with some events to plan and execute.

First, talk to engaging people. The best way to find engaging people: be approachable. When I’m at an event where I don’t know anyone, I hang out by the food. Someone will approach me and strike up a conversation. I listen and ask questions. As others stop by to say hello, I often find that I haven’t moved from my spot since arriving. By developing rapport and trust, new people are more likely to talk to you after the event.

Next, don’t make presumptions about referral matches. How often do you ask, “What does your spouse do?” The people you meet at holiday parties are likely a few steps away from target client matches – all you have to do is ask smart questions and find a connection. If you consciously try to remember an engaging person, you will likely run into someone who might be their match. Most referrals come from those people – the unanticipated client generators.

Then, look for mutually beneficial business interests. When you explore mutually beneficial exposure opportunities, consider your ideal client and your new friend’s ideal client. Ask yourself, what if anything do our potential clients have in common? When you spot common client attributes, think about who might be the right person to influence a common client; contact that individual to help sponsor or advertise your event.

Finally, don’t forget to tell people what you do and to identify an ideal client. Whether in writing or conversation, tell people who’s presenting, what they do, and identify ideal clients. Use open-ended language like, “Bob is a consumer protection lawyer who helps people fight big companies who steal big by stealing a little from many.” (See how this is better than saying that Bob is a class action plaintiff’s lawyer – only other lawyers know what that means). Be proud of our careers and share with others so we can help each other.

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