Lawyers know they have to stay in contact, or risk missing out on work that a client or prospect is willing to award them, but doesn’t simply because too long a gap between communications has made them forget you. Too many lawyers struggle to generate relevant, welcomed conversation with clients and prospects. Here’s a better way.
Most also know that the Old School, “Let’s catch up,” isn’t going to get them onto too many busy calendars these days. Nobody has time for that anymore. Even if your relationship is somehow strong enough to get you an audience just to catch up, a thinly-veiled attempt to get them to allocate some, or more, of their legal spend to your firm and you is also a non-starter.
So, what’s a harried lawyer to do? The conversation you dangle as your hook to earn a calendar slot has to be relevant to the person’s role, situation, company, and the industry within which all that operates. Unfortunately, too few lawyers understand their clients’ and prospects’ businesses well enough to be effective.
So say clients themselves. A recent study of the British legal market commissioned by LexisNexis and Judge Business School at Cambridge University contains a stark finding: A stunning 40% of clients in the LexisNexis survey noted that senior partners of their law firms lacked more than a basic knowledge of their businesses.
If you make a commitment to understanding the business, you’ll solve your access problem, and differentiate yourself from those described so negatively in the studies.
You’re not doing PhD-thesis research. All you’re seeking is an issue that you can use as the basis to earn a conversation. Keep it simple. Don’t try to pose some insightful question that you’re not prepared to phrase.
Google [industry name] and the word “trends” or “issues.” That’s it. That’s your starting point. Let’s create a concrete example. Google “agriculture trends.”
Well, lookee here.
Right at the top the first page of my Google search results we see “Here are the five global trends catalyzing digital transformation in agriculture.” How hard could it be to extract a worthy basis for discussion from that list? Nothing says “future” like “digital transformation.”
Scrolling down the results, we see the Forbes article, which reinforces the “digital transformation” concept.
A quick look inside gives us:
“The IoT is disrupting the agriculture industry – in a good way. In fact, there is extreme potential for using the IoT within the food sector. According to a report by Cisco, there is an estimated $14.4 trillion in value at stake with the emergence of IoT alone. The IoT is simplifying and streamlining the collection, inspection and overall distributing of agricultural resources using sensors on equipment and materials.”
Step 2: Phrase it as “how…”
Take a literal statement from the article and add “How does…” to the front and “...affect your company” at the end, like this:
“How does the IoT simplifying and streamlining the collection, inspection and overall distributing of agricultural resources using sensors on equipment and materials” affect your company?”
Next, add functional labels that tie the issue to your expertise domain, e.g., “...need for capital,” or “...hiring strategy,” or “IP strategy,” or “need to partner with startups,” which gives us
“How does the IoT simplifying and streamlining the collection, inspection and overall distributing of agricultural resources using sensors on equipment and materials” affect your company’s hiring strategy?”
Convert to email
Now, all you have to do is add a personal introduction that references your relationship and answers the “what’s this about” question that’s in the back of the recipient’s mind, and finish with a “are you willing to talk to me” question:
Reaching out to a stranger? No problem
This works with strangers, too. You just have to acknowledge that. You can use the same Subject line. If you’ve been referred, put that first in your Subject line, like this:
Subject: (via Sally Smith) Would love your thoughts re: IoT in Agriculture
Sally’s name will get it opened, not yours. If someone sees this on their phone, make sure they see her name. Modify the email above slightly to acknowledge the arm’s length relationship:
I just had a really informative call with Sally, who shared some interesting insights about how IoT and AI will simplify and streamline the collection, inspection and distribution of agricultural resources.
Sally said that you were probably the best-informed person she knows on this topic, and thought you’d be willing to let me pick your brain, too.
I’m preparing to speak at AgTech 2019, and want to make sure that my remarks are timely, interesting, and valuable. Might you be willing to make time for a short call to share your thoughts?
Thanks for considering it.
As you see, this doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. About one minute on Google and I was able to inform these, even though I know absolutely nothing about AgTech. Just think what you can do with topics you actually understand.