I recently had the privilege of moderating a panel of general counsel in San Diego to get their perspectives on working with outside counsel in the posts-recession economy. The lesson I took away from the conversation was about the value of follow up.
While there were a variety of views on the best way to forge new relationships, one common theme was that very few attorneys follow up or try to sustain a relationship after the first attempt. Bad practice, according to the panelists.
They say that they are often impressed by certain conversations even if they don’t end up hiring the attorney for that matter.
In most cases, however, the general counsel may never hear from that person again.
The same is true for educational events. In today’s fast-paced environment, education is increasingly important. The panelists all agreed that an attorney who is impressive on a panel is memorable and someone they would consider for a future matter. But seldom do they ever hear from a speaker after the event is over.
In my experience working with law firms as a consultant and from my direct experience in house, lack of follow up is a pervasive problem. The general counsel on my panel reinforced this notion. Lawyers seem to have a natural reluctance to stay connected.
The lesson: Just because you don’t get hired on the first go-round does not mean you’ve been disqualified. Follow up with a phone call a month or so later just to check in. Invite your contact to lunch. If you are speaking at an event, send a follow up email after the fact to attendees. If possible send them something of value like an article related to the topic about which you spoke.
Be memorable and make it easy for prospective clients to connect with you.