Tag Archives: Contacts

Spontaneous Exclamations: Early priorities part 2

 Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, commercial finance, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or  akatz@harrisonheld.com.

This is part two of a two-part series that offers a few pointers about networking to build your business and reputation.

3.         But I’m Young and Don’t Know Anybody Who Needs Legal Services!

Touché!  I respond thusly: Imagine you are a tiny tadpole swimming around your little law school castle at the bottom of a fishbowl covered in that peculiar shiny neon gravel.  There are tiny fish swimming around with you going about their business, checking out their little fishy lockers containing their little fishy law books and writing little fishy case briefs in preparation for class.  Now you, tadpole, have decided that you are going to one day become a big old toad and leave this fishbowl, but you are anxious because you don’t know anybody outside of your bowl.

First, you realize that you may have family members who already are toads out in the world beyond the bowl.  For those who do, you generally have your foot in the door already with family and family friends.  Take them to lunch, pick their brains, and most importantly, establish a relationship.  I have found that most people I’ve attempted to network with enjoy assisting people in the beginning of their careers.  Generally people like to pass down the fruits of their knowledge because someone did it for them when they were just starting out too.  It’s like that movie that nobody has ever seen but somehow knows the title: Pay it Forward.  Furthermore, what goes around, comes around.  One day you might be in the position to assist the person who helped you out in the past.  In other words, don’t forget those who lifted you up to where you need to be, and always send handwritten thank you notes!!!

Lastly, take a look at the other little fishies swimming around the bowl.  Some may go on to become attorneys, others will go into business and other occupations.  A portion of those fishies will eventually need legal services and you want to be on the top of their fishy minds when they do.  In my own experience, I’ve taken a look around and seen various friends or acquaintances progressing in their jobs or starting their own businesses.  I’ve made it a priority of mine to portray myself to them as a capable, trustworthy, and cordial attorney who is able to assist them at a moment’s notice.  Occasionally, these contacts come to me with legal matters which I happily take on.  Some of these contacts are small-time, but could one day become big and I am honored to be involved in their businesses from day one.  Otherwise, I know that there is just a matter of time before a portion of these contacts become big old toads themselves and then potentially become big old clients.

In other words, young contacts with potential now may become your best clients in the future… or one day you’re forming a small LLC for a widget designer, three years later, you’re representing a global widget cartel.  Talk about a small investment paying off!

In conclusion, you, law student/junior associate/guy just looking for fantasy football advice, can get a major head start on your legal career this very second that may even bear fruit in the short term.  Network with friends, family, acquaintances, and college alumni.  Be friendly to people you meet on the street, attend charity events, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at the game.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ve reached out and they aren’t interested at the moment.  However, by NO means should you let your business get in the way of your friendships and relationships with the ones you love.  But that’s the subject of another blog post.

In upcoming posts I will touch on shepherding not-for-profit corporations through the federal tax exemption process, converting general partnerships to limited partnerships and the tax ramifications therein, and more associate life and practice pointers for law students and new attorneys.  If you actually are looking for fantasy football advice, I’m currently 6-0 and my tips don’t come cheap.

‘Thinking of you’ e-mails mean a lot

Nancy Glazer is Manager of Legal Launch, LLC.  The goal of Legal Launch, LLC is to provide uplifting, career counseling for 3Ls, recent law school graduates and experienced attorneys.  Nancy offers her clients endless ideas and possibilities to help land them the right job in a competitive market.

                      www.LegalLaunch.net;      Nancy@LegalLaunch.net

Saturday morning is the time when I catch up on the past week’s articles and blogs about business news and legal developments.  My news feeds also provide me with the weekly business and legal industries’ gossip as well.

When I read an article about a subject that may interest someone I know, personally or professionally, I pass it along with a short note conveying my thoughts.  Not only should job seekers send these kinds of e-mails, but established business leaders and lawyers should too.  This is a fast and simple way to continue to connect with people.

A quick tickler is helpful for a job seeker in several ways:  (1) it shows you are thoughtful, (2) a quick e-mail reminds them of you, should they hear of any opportunities, and (3) it shows the recipient that you care about them and the news items they care about – your relationship is not just one way.  In general, thoughtful e-mails continue your relationship and give you reason to contact someone you haven’t spoken to in a long while again.

Similarly, if you are an attorney trying to market yourself better, sending a news article or an agenda for a future seminar or meeting, all show that you understand a client or a prospective client and their interests.  Recipients will be grateful that you thought of them and will appreciate receiving such timely information.  Keeping a relationship going with clients or prospective clients reminds them that you care about their business and what’s important to them.  If they are contemplating calling you about a legal issue, your breaking the ice makes it easier for them to reach out to you for assistance.

I learned this simple practice from my father.  As a child, I would find all kinds of articles on my dresser about issues of interest.  To this day, my dad, the king of marketing, still sends me articles of my interest from journals all the time.

Lest you think this practice is phony or self-serving, it’s not.  If you truly care about the people in your network and if you care about what they care about, you are just solidifying your relationship.  You are simply showing them that you are on their page.

It only takes seconds.  Subscribe to daily news feeds.  Not only will you stay on top of changing markets, but you will also connect to those in your world.

My holiday gift to you is contact management

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency.  Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing.  Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Attorneys in transition should always make time to focus on contact management.  After all, if you are in transition, some of your contact information is likely to change.  A new position presents the opportunity to reach out to some of the people in your network to say hello and offer updated contact information.  Worry not, most of them will not ask “what happened?” as transition is a natural process in career evolution.

My gift to all the attorneys in transition this season is the gift of contact management.  I will share a few of my tips and tricks with hopes you may adopt some or search for and share others.  Contact management is somewhat like billing in the sense that any system with which you are comfortable is the right one.  Just please make sure you have a system to collect and manage contacts.

First, collection takes many forms; we collect business cards at events, contacts are e-mailed to us, and contacts we know have their information posted online.  If I were starting from scratch I would make a list of every important contact I know, grouped by profession or practice area, and start an excel spreadsheet with columns for their remaining contact information.

Second, once my Excel sheet is full, I would make sure I was Microsoft Outlook friendly (there are many Outlook for new users that make the transition easy), and then “import” all my contacts into Outlook directly from the excel sheet.  The reason I recommend Outlook is two-fold: 1) it is inherently easy to use, and 2) most commercial software applications have built-in “save to contacts/calendar” functions that Outlook users embrace.

Third, after I have imported my network of contacts into Outlook, then I would make a plan so that I could strategically keep in touch with the people in my network.  One sure bet is to communicate with groups or your whole list periodically.  Mass e-mail programs like Constant Contact make it easy to send a mass “change of office address” e-mail.  Please be careful using e-mail marketing programs – too often your contacts will be annoyed by “marketing” e-mails about how great your services are – instead you should offer something of value that your contacts can use, such as a new opinion in their practice area (see the benefit of separating contacts into lists such as practice areas).

Lastly, using Outlook I would schedule a calendar reminder to say hello and follow up with my contacts individually.  Fridays are good days to spend an hour or so each Friday reaching out for no other reason than to say hello.  Every three to six months we should let people know we are still out there if we otherwise do not speak frequently.  Remember, contact activity generates business.  Make a the contact plan and work the contact plan.  Contact me personally if you want more contact management tips.

Networking tips: Do’s and don’t’s

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency.  Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing.  Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Why network?  For many people who fail at effective networking skills, the honest level of interest in others is the main opportunity killer.  Simply going through the motions of meeting new people and aggregating contact information does not convert networking into a high payoff activity.  Networking events are opportunities to make real personal connections with people you would consider as friends while you compare ideas about business.

We gain in the short term.  Soon after we first meet a new business contact we can take the first step of storing their contact information in a database.  Being certain to take some notes on the back of a business card, use your reminders to remember something about the person you met.  After meeting you might send a short e-mail with an attached note about you or the services you provide.  It is a good idea, when first exchanging contact information through e-mail, to ask or acknowledge who may be a good referral or what business opportunities you might spot later and be in touch.

We gain in the long term.  After time we notice that some contacts’ names appear before us with greater frequency.  Some, on social networks, and others in e-mail marketing newsletters.  Often times we haven’t seen the contact in person since we started receiving all their electronic correspondence.  Why not pick up the phone from time to time?  By calling a contact when you are reminded of them while busy in another activity, you show them you remember something about them that jogged your memory.  At that point you may casually chat about “How is business?”

Don’t be a card collector.  Nobody likes the 30 second introduction, card exchange (hand-off), and run approach to making new business relationships.  When you sit down and transfer the data from the cards you collected, try to look at each card and picture the person who gave it to you.  If you can’t, are you sure you should really keep their contact information?  Take the time at networking events to make lasting impressions.  Don’t give your card out to everyone you meet, see if they appear interested in staying in touch, and if so, then give out a business card.

Entering conversations is a learned skill.  If two people are already talking, you can tell if they look interested in their conversation to the point you don’t want to bother them, and if so, don’t.  Seasoned networkers will notice other people nearby who may want to say hello.  Often being mindful, savvy networkers will keep one on one conversations short so they can meet new people.  Don’t worry, you’ll likely get the chance to meet everyone you want if you’re patient.