Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students St. Mary’s University School of Law as they prepared for an upcoming Negotiations tournament. There are three reasons I was asked to do this: 1) I have a background, albeit briefly, in sports law; 2) I used to be on the law school’s Negotiations Team; and 3) I built a solid relationship.
My law school coach on the Negotiations team, still coaches the school’s Negotiations team, and is a practicing attorney in my new hometown of Austin, Texas. He is a great attorney and professional resource. When I first moved to Austin I didn’t know anyone, save a law school roommate. All I had was a list of people who I knew from law school (professors and students alike) who I knew lived in Austin, but I did not have a relationship with.
When I first moved to Austin in 2011 I did so on a whim, deciding to put where I wanted to live above where a job would place me. Well, with a limited amount of seed money, I had to build relationships quickly in order to begin generating income. Over the course of my first 3 months in Austin, I went through my law school’s directory and looked for all the attorneys who were living in Austin and tried to find a link to them. Did I meet them at some point? Did they work in a practice area I wanted to be a part of? Did I go to school with that person? It was a tough three months, and I spent roughly 50 percent of my time connecting with fellow St. Mary’s attorneys and 50 percent prospecting clients (more about this in another blog).
Those three months helped me create some tangible results that have helped me build a thriving law practice: 1) 4 solid attorney referral sources that have attributed to at least 20% of my monthly income (more when I was getting started); 2) 5 solid law school administrators/faculty (like my Negotiations professor) who will book me for speaking engagements or guest lecturer/associate professor opportunities (bolstering the resume); and 3) 2 exceptional law partners who have decided to join me in building a thriving law practice.
All that is to say, that you never know how keeping a relationship up can help build your business opportunities. I want you to be able to do the same thing. Here is a simple approach to make the most of connections you’ve made, so you can keep your relationships alive:
1) Look through your phone book on your phone or in whatever other contact resource you have. Pick a night to go through every name. Invariably you will find names of people you have not reached out to in years.*
2) Pick 3 of this people who you have a professional connection to and send them an e-mail saying you just came across their name in your phone book and you wanted to drop a line and see what they were up to.
3) If they are in your city, ask them to grab a coffee with you. See where the conversation goes.
*- Alternatively, you can substitute your linked in connections for your phone book