In my last article, Time to Work the Room, I highlighted the importance of getting out of the “work cave” and starting to mingle with business contacts in person again. The Covid lockdown is behind us, yet it is easy to remain stuck in the complacent state of the armchair consultant/lawyer. Connecting with people in person is one of the most effective ways to meet new contacts and further develop existing relationships.
“Once I meet these new contacts, how do I stay in touch with them, and how often?”
I hear these questions on a regular basis, and they are legitimate questions. Everyone wants to effectively grow a relationship without coming across too aggressive. They don’t want to appear too desperate or pushy so they err on the side of caution and rarely reach out. This often results in a relationship that goes cold.
Out of sight, out of mind!
Many professionals have good intentions of reaching out to their contacts on a regular basis but don’t know what to say. They struggle with coming up with a good reason to connect in person or reach out to check in.
I break down this outreach campaign into two types of touchpoints. The in-person touchpoints, and the quick touchpoints. Both are essential in building and maintaining a fruitful relationship.
In-person touchpoints are an effective way to learn more about the contact and for the contact to learn more about you. These can be accomplished by attending networking events, meeting over a coffee, lunch, drinks, or a fun activity. For the contacts who are more challenging to meet due to geographic reasons, virtual meetings are the next best thing. Whatever option you choose, the critical thing to remember is that it needs to be done throughout the year. An ideal cadence for in-person meetings with important contacts is 2-3 per year. In between those meetings, are when quick touchpoints can come into play.
The quick touchpoints essentially act as the “thinking of you” outreach. It can be in the form of an email, LinkedIn message, hand-written card, phone call, or even walking down the hall to say hi to a colleague. Whichever method is preferred, it is ideal to mix it up and do it as often as possible.
Many people think that quick touchpoints should be professionally based such as sending a white paper or legal alert. Although these messages can be useful, they often go unread. Recipients can get bombarded by them from multiple firms. What will often have a better chance of catching someone’s attention is the outreach on a personal note such as “congratulations on your promotion,” “Happy Birthday!” or “Happy Holidays.” Better yet, learn about what your contacts enjoy doing outside of work, and you will have more options from which to choose that will have a higher chance of being received and appreciated.
With such a competitive field of talented professionals in the market, it is imperative to focus time, energy, and creativity on staying in touch with important contacts. I say “contacts” and not just “clients” for a reason. Important contacts can also be internal colleagues or referral sources. Find that balance between the in-person touchpoints and the quick touchpoints. If done well, you will find that many of your relationships will bring you more business over time.
Key takeaway - It is not always the best professional who wins the work but rather the professional who is best at staying top of mind.