In a similar vein to the old real estate adage, in legal marketing it's all about contact, contact, contact. Two important factors need to come into play in building any relationship are how often you are in contact (with clients, referral sources and prospects) and what value those communications add to the relationship.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell.
In Trey Ryder's recent newsletter there is an article by his colleague Tom Trush that identified these two elements as being "critical" to successful relationship building. Whether you'd agree that they are critical or not, I would argue that they are at least near the foundation for building any relationship. As Trush points out, building client relationships is not unlike a spousal courtship. Common mistakes include rushing the relationship before a comfort level. We know the clients hire lawyers they know, like, and trust. It is vital then that they believe that their lawyer cares about their problems.
Accordingly, your business development efforts cannot come across as a sales pitch, but rather that the relationship is built on your caring and understanding the client's wants and needs. And that you show you care about them by giving them information that they can use in their business. Some people, like Trush and Ryder, call that educational marketing.
So, the way to build relationships, especially with clients and referral sources, is to communicate often, a lot, frequently, repeatedly (okay, okay I know), and ensure that such communications are worthwhile, meaningful, valuable (enough all ready). But, the ideas are worth repeating, if you hope to build relationships that benefit your law firm in these economic times.
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