With the crush of year-end and the busyness of the holidays, I decided to post an encore of a
holiday post I did on December 18, 2007 on reaching out to clients and referral sources by telephone (at least) during the holidays. Personal attention is better than (but not to the exclusion of) holiday cards. Here it is:

Work Your Network During the Holidays

It’s a good idea to touch base with contacts within your network during the holidays. It’s even
better than sending holiday cards. Pick up the phone and reach out to everyone you know (okay,
if you are THAT popular, not everyone) and wish them a happy holiday season. It especially
makes sense to at least speak to every referral source and client, including those you haven’t
done work for lately or received a recent referral.

And talking about networking, I thought I would call your attention to a post I did in December
2005 entitled “Ignore Your Friends At the ‘Business’ Holiday Party.” The premise of that post
was that you can get together with your friends anytime, so use business-related holiday parties
as productive networking and business development opportunities that you can cultivate further
during the next year. Give that post a look if you are interested in reading more of my thoughts
on that subject.

Again, Happy Holiday(ing) everyone!

Yes and no. Or maybe. Currently, my personal recommendation is to chill out, and devote your vacation time to family and friends. Lawyers need to unwind, to prevent burnout. But most of all they need to spend quality time with those they love.

Having said that, it isn’t criminal or a mortal sin to get in a little business development when a situation presents itself. I’ve talked about this before in a blog post I wrote in 2014.

Today I ran across a post by The BTI Consulting Group that contained a couple of pages from their latest book The Mad Clientist’s ABCs of Client Service. It states that the “only time inaction is good… is when you’re on vacation.”


HOWEVER, the main message from the ABCs of Client Service is, when it comes to client service, “Inaction speaks much louder than words.” Clients will remember “acts of omission or process more than actions taken.”

So, do take time off and enjoy your vacation with family and friends this summer. Treat yourself to some “inaction” time. BUT, don’t be afraid to do a little business development (networking or whatever), if the opportunity presents itself. The important thing is to keep in mind, when you are back at work, the danger of inaction when it comes to client service.


Networking is no less dreaded by many lawyers than it has always been. But, it doesn’t have to be.  Hopefully, a few of my 40-plus posts on this blog about networking over the past 11 years will be useful. A few of which I have highlighted below.  They may prove of interest to those who may not have seen them previously.

Mike O’Horo has a recent post on Attorney at Work that mentions a couple of networking tips, one I hadn’t thought about or covered before.

  • It concerns the awkwardness of the situation where you are not sure whether you’ve met a person before or have but forgotten their name. His suggestion: “Hi Denise, nice to see you.”  Thus, avoiding the risk of  “… nice to meet you” (when you already have) or “… nice seeing you again” (when you haven’t);
  • Another suggestion involves the buddy system. Work with a “partner” to help each other in situations where you’re not sure, or need help with an introduction; and
  • Name tag game. Put it on your handshaking side or, if on a lanyard, up high enough to be seen to avoid stares in the general area of the belly button. For more about name tags check out Scott Ginsburg, the Nametag Guy, if you question the importance of such things.

A few of my networking posts include: (my apologies for any broken links)

Basic Networking Tips

Do you feel uncomfortable networking? Maybe better questions include: Do you enjoy helping friends and acquaintances? Are you a good listener? Do you like to party?? Then, you may be better at networking than you think. So, maybe it is the word “networking” that is the culprit. Think of it as enjoying yourself at events….Continue Reading

7 Ideas To Improve Your Networking

Effective networking is more important as the legal marketplace becomes more competitive. A lot of lawyers do not embrace networking and wish they didn’t have to do it. It is not why we went to law school after all. Notwithstanding one’s aversion to networking, it is necessary! So you might as well make networking work…Continue Reading

Top 10 Marketing Tips: No. 9 – Networking With Super-Connectors

I recently posted a couple of items on networking, one about normal encounters during your daily routines and the other which required more focused activity. A recent post on Inc.com’s blog highlighted an excerpt from a chapter of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone which is called “Connecting with the Connectors”; that is, those who…Continue Reading

Networking Requires Getting Off Your Duff!

Social media is obviously one way to network these days, and it can work. But, it is not as effective as face-to-face events with clients, referral sources and prospects. So, it’s time to get up from your desk, and get out and about. That is the theme of an article on Attorney at Work by…Continue Reading

P.S. Heaven forbid, if you want to read more of the 40 or so networking posts, go here.

A common comment and justification for certain activities in the early stages of legal marketing was “because other firms are doing it.” I believe some firms still cling to that reasoning. Last week Otto Sorts, the curmudgeon of Attorney at Work fame, raised several questions about his firm’s focus on social media as part of a business development plan.

Relating to BizDev, he questioned what the firm wants to do, what does it want to happen, what tool is best suited to accomplish that, and what resources are required. His point being that social media should help answer those questions, or not.

Longtime readers would know that I’m not a big fan of social media because I just haven’t seen where it has made significant contributions to marketing and business development efforts of the firm. Granted it could be one to in the overall mix, but I am just not convinced that it makes significant enough contribution to overcome the disadvantages in my mind as a potential lawyer time waster. I could stand corrected but have been up to this point. I see social media being used more for self- promotion, rather than a social networking tool that leads to more business.

Some posts of mine include (unfortunately, a couple of links are broken):

Marketing and Social Media Survey Results

Since we are in the personal services business, I remain skeptical of social media as an effective tool of legal marketing. Clients hire lawyers they know, like or trust (or are referred by someone they do). I think that social media is too impersonal, remote and time-consuming as a business development tool to cross that…Continue Reading

Social Media Doesn’t Replace Face-to-Face Networking

More and more employers are finding that social media is an effective way to network. However it is not an excuse to sit at your desk and think that that is all there is to it. Social media can be and is for many an effective way to make friends connections and raise one’s profile….Continue Reading

Has Social Media Gotten Lawyers Out of Focus?

There is a very interesting article by Anthony Green in Law Practice Today which talks about Web 2.0, Web 1.0 and social media in general. Not being one completing sold on all the hype surrounding social media, I agree with several points Green raises about the need to get back to basics. He (and I)…Continue Reading

Is “Social Media” Networking’s Nirvana? Possibly Not!

According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore. Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let…Continue Reading

Should You Pay Attention To The Social Networking Craze?

Most everyone who has heard about the Internet, or has a child capable of educating them, has heard about social networks like MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. etc. etc. The “etc’s” are part of my point. There are new ones springing up almost every day. There is some question as to which one or two will be the…Continue Reading

Most importantly, what do you readers say?  Has social media produced significant legal business for you?


Seventy to 90% of lawyers’ business comes because of referrals from clients and other contacts in your network.  You are more likely to get more, if you concentrate on enhancing your network.

Mary Taylor Lokensgard has a post on Attorney at Work that provides good ideas on getting referrals.  She suggests 3 steps:

1.    Ask for them.

  • From people who know, like and trust you, and vica versa. They will come, if you develop meaningful relationships with people who are likely to be in a position to refer the clients you want;
  • Make sure your contacts know what you do, not just that you are a lawyer;
  • Work up an elevator speech (or two or three) that lets them know that kinds of law you practice and HOW you can help people;
  • Let clients know that you can always handle work from other great clients like them.

2.  Build up your network of contacts who could be referral sources, including:

  • Lawyers who don’t do what you do; or
  • Ones who do not want to represent the clients you do; and
  • Other professionals, such as financial advisors, bankers, real estate agents/brokers, insurance agents, estate planners, etc.

Keep in touch with potential referral sources at least quarterly by telephone, email, lunch and so forth.

3.  How to ask.

  • Build relationships first.  One way to enhance relationships quickly is “giving to get.” Actively think of, and work at, making referrals to contacts in your network;
  • Don’t be bashful, but avoid appearing desperate.  Remember you know your contacts and you’re not asking strangers; and
  • Remember the line about your welcoming the opportunity to service other good clients like them.

Remember to show appreciation for all referrals with a handwritten note – yes, even in these days of easy emails – even if they do not work out.  If they do, then consider sending a small token of your appreciation, such as a bottle of wine, or whatever.  Remember the ethical rules against sharing fees with non-lawyers.

Developing a referral network isn’t easy or a short term project.  It is a never-ending and critical to the success of your law firm.

P.S. Here’s a link to numerous additional posts of mine about referrals over the past 10 years.


Well, that might be an overstatement; but a three-part series by Mary Lokensgard on Attorney at Work presents a good outline of an effective referral system to follow.  If you do so there is a good chance that you will be guaranteed referrals. They are not automatic and they require work, but if you’re serious about getting new business remember that one of the best sources his referrals (either from clients or other friends and contacts).

In a nutshell the suggestions by Lokensgard cover three aspects:

1. Who is likely to refer to and how to ask.

  • Make a list of lawyers who do not do what you do, as well as a list of those who do and are likely to refer to you (and you to them) when there is a conflict or other reason;
  • List other non-lawyer professionals likely to have clients that could use your services (and vice versa);
  • Let your clients know that you welcome referrals to serve “other great clients like them”; and
  • Inform all appropriate contacts of your willingness to refer clients to them.

2. Rules when getting and giving referrals.

  • Suggest to referral source that the potential client, for ethical reasons, make the first contact. Subtly remind referrer if you don’t hear from the person;
  • With the new client’s permission, let the referral source know the referral succeeded;
  • Thank the referral source for the business repeatedly – by email AND handwritten note, and consider a token gift as a thank you; and
  • Let the referral source know how things are going with the matter ONLY with the client’s knowledge and consent.

3. Care and maintenance of your referral network.

  • Continue to broaden referral network by raising profile by educational and nonprofit activities;
  • Stay in constant contact with existing referral sources;
  • Look for opportunities to make referrals;
  • Show appreciation by entertaining referral sources.

Building a referral network takes work, but can pay big dividends if done efficiently and effectively. Check out Lokensgard’s three-part series for more details.



What should you consider before deciding whether to attend a conference? The weather? Exotic location? Nah! Although one should not discard those entirely. But seriously, there are things you should consider before deciding whether to attend a conference.

Roy Ginsberg has a helpful post on Attorney at Work today that may help you decide whether to attend a particular conference or not. Here are few:

  • Who will attend? If it is a conference that your desirable clients will attend, then without a doubt you should plan on it. This will offer the opportunity to enhance your relationships with existing clients, and possibly provide the opportunity for them to introduce you to new ones. If you are not sure what conferences your clients attend, ask them and/or do research on past conferences;
  • Will there be networking opportunities? With most conferences that’s a given. But be selective in those activities where there will be greater opportunities for one-on-one discussions, such as sightseeing tours and other casual events. At meals, plan to identify and sit, when possible, with potential clients;
  • Be selective on breakout sessions. Not only consider the educational benefits, but again where potential targets will be. These sessions may offer smaller, more intimate opportunities to network; and
  • Most importantly, follow-up. The single most common reason that lawyers fail to gain work from attending conferences is the lack of follow-up. Have a game plan to contact by letter, email, telephone call etc. people of interest you meet at a conference.

Now, back to the point about where the conference is located. As Ginsberg notes “All things being equal, San Diego during January sure sounds a helluva lot better to me than Washington, D.C. in the summer.” Or Boston in the winter. As it turns out, San Diego is the site for the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in April, which is also a great time of year in that beautiful city.

Much of the advice given above is applicable to LMA’s conference depending on your goals. If you still haven’t decided whether you are attending and you’re a legal marketer take a look at my earlier posts (here and here) about the upcoming conference. What I have gained most from these conferences over the years are the contacts made, and the marketing and business development ideas acquired.

Effective networking is more important as the legal marketplace becomes more competitive. A lot of lawyers do not embrace networking and wish they didn’t have to do it. It is not why we went to law school after all. Notwithstanding one’s aversion to networking, it is necessary! So you might as well make networking work the best you can.

The following are some steps recommended by attorney Anabella Bonfa on Law Practice Advisor:

  1. Develop a lawyer network. Make a point of meeting and developing relationships with non-competing lawyers for mutual referrals. Both may have clients who could use the other’s services;
  2. Connect with other professionals. Obviously, this could also result in mutual referrals that will expand your client base as well as theirs. Such connections could also benefit your clients’ businesses;
  3. Help others reach their goals. Don’t look at a networking event as one where you have to sell yourself. Rather, consider it an opportunity to make friends, and help them achieve their goals. As Zig Ziglar wisely stated “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Look for ways to be helpful to those you meet at networking events, rather than looking for what they can do for you;
  4. Always keep your word. If you say to someone you meet that you will check on something or send information or provide a link or an introduction, NEVER fail to do so. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you put your reputation in jeopardy;
  5. Always follow up. Not only on what you say you will do, but with the contacts made. Even if there may be no need for your services by them nor opportunities for referrals from them, add the contact to what I refer to as a Quarterly Contact List, and then contact each person at least four times a year. Such contact could take the form of an email, telephone call, or in-person meetings, where possible.  You could provide a link to an article of interest based on your conversation or reference information picked up on Google Alerts;
  6. Network via social media. Post an article on a blog, participate in discussions on LinkedIn or Google+ to raise your profile and to make contacts with whom you want to develop relationships; and
  7. Be yourself. In all networking events you should avoid coming across as someone you are not. You need to be your true self – honest and sincere. Don’t be afraid to share some personal information which can help build a relationship, particularly if the other person does the same.

Networking should not be feared or avoided. So get out and about to improve your networking in order to grow your practice.

Actually, I’m not a good listener or at least not as good as I should be. Bad listening isn’t just a malady of lawyers, as it is a common ailment suffered by many, many homo sapiens.  With that said, a post by Annie Little on Attorney at Work points a finger at lawyers when discussing the topic.

She states that that is one reason that “attorneys are among the least trusted professionals.” I’m not sure how much weight I would attach to their listening skills as the reason. Nonetheless, Little lists ways to be a better listener, including:

  • Act Like You Care. This would require a change of mindset by some lawyers to act like they really care and are interested in what the other person – whether a client, prospect or potential referral source – has to say. It’s easier if you maintain eye contact, and avoid looking at your smart phone every few seconds while pretending you are not doing so. It also helps to gain the other persons confidence by focusing on them while they’re speaking for nonverbal clues that will keep the conversation moving ahead in the right direction;
  • It’s Not About You. Try to make the conversation about them so you fully understand their point and don’t respond too quickly or interrupt their thought process. Until the other person has completed their thought, they’re not ready for your comment or input. You are not truly listening if you’re trying to plan what you will say next to show off your expertise. It is better to think and admit if you do not know the answer right then.  Offer to look into it and get back to them later. This could actually lead to paying work; and
  • Silence Is Your New Best Friend. Gaps in a conversation are not a bad thing, and can often lead to the person continuing to speak and share important information. It also can provide respect for you as a listener. Remember you already know everything there is to know about yourself.  So, why not spend the time letting the other person talk and provide you with information you do not have about them and their potential issues.

Bottom line message: the more you learn to be a better listener the more “clients feel listened to. And respected,” according to Little. Further, you won’t have to ask them what they just said.  If we are honest with ourselves, there are lessons to be learned there.


Here are some additional posts of mine on listening:

Hush up and Listen!

The Less You Talk, the Smarter People Will Think You Are

Do Clients Wish You Were like a Good Waiter?

As the holidays approach, there will be many opportunities to meet and greet, and collect business cards. One might think the more the merrier.  But not so fast, there are reasons to not start a variation on a baseball card collection (some of you may remember when such a collection was a big thing).

What got me thinking about business cards was the marketing meditation of last Friday in 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing & Communications Professionals by my friend Larry Smith and Richard Levick of Levick strategic communications. It states:

“Always have an excuse to collect a bunch of business cards. During a speech, mentioned some great article you can send them. ‘Please leave me your business cards and I’ll see to it that you get the article.’”

Over the years I’ve given similar advice at my marketing seminars.  I go one step further and invite participants to come up and, in case they are out of business cards, put their name on a pad of paper placed up front.

The reason I agree with the tactic mentioned for speeches, is that it is more difficult to come away with contact information in order to follow up with a large audience. So, I see no reason for not gathering as many business cards as possible in that setting.  At a minimum it will help you build up your database.

However, I have a different view about gathering as many business cards as you can in a networking situation. At a networking event, presumably you have more face time, and can determine more readily the persons you would like to follow up with. Further, you don’t want to be seen as a gadfly who walks around the room asking for business cards with no purpose in mind.

After either event, following up is often the biggest problem for lawyers.  Grabbing a bunch of cards really means little, because often lawyers merely throw them in a drawer when they get back to the office.  I suggest that you focus on coming away with a half dozen or so cards from people you want to follow up with.

Then make sure you follow up with those people you obtain cards from.  Suggestions might include sending a handwritten (preferably) “nice to meet you” note, or at least an email, to continue the dialogue and possible set up a lunch, if the person is local.  The goal is to build on the relationship and your network.

Collecting business cards from strangers is a good business development tactic, but not if you don’t follow up, or have no strategy on how to capitalize on them.