After you have established an introduction with a career-enhancing influencer either in person or virtually, the discipline of follow-up is critical. The Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color (NGL: ALC) advisory board (AB) share their best tips for keeping in touch with the goal of continuing to find reasons to stay in touch:
- Connect over social media. LinkedIn is a wonderful, low-effort platform for doing so. It also enables you to learn about other potential areas of interest. It is easy to “like” a post or comment on it. For example, if you find another piece of content that is relevant to a topic of interest, it is easy to “share” the post and tag the people you want to stay in touch with. It also mixes up how you stay connected beyond email and live chats.
- Invite your influencer to work-related events and community events like fundraisers.
- Look for and send them articles that you think they would find interesting — but not just any article. Make sure there is an actual reason why the person would think that it is interesting.
- Keep in touch with them by sending cards, thank you notes, or emails during the holidays.
- Send a hand-written note of thanks after the person has invested the time in helping you grow as a professional.
Check out the Advisory Board’s Top 5 Networking Tips Infographic
Many lawyers of color have discussed how building authentic connections across differences is a challenge. To address this, our AB members recommended finding ways to ask probing questions to get your target contacts talking. Overwhelmingly, the AB said it was best to learn about the problems your contacts are trying to solve and offer something that helps them get closer to resolving it.
Other successful tactics suggested by the AB include:
- Show interest in the work and projects they do, even if you are not on the project.
- Invite the person to lunch, let them know you are interested in knowing more about their practice, and ask about the most difficult situation they have faced.
- Take the initiative to work on projects together.
- Find common ground by asking questions about what they care about outside of work. For example, find out your target contact’s favorite sports teams, check out the scores (even if you hate sports) on your way to work, and make a comment about the game when you see them.
Check out the Advisory Board’s Recommendations for Establishing Relationships
It is never too early for an attorney looking to become a partner one day to be thinking about building a book of business. With this in mind, our law firm partners on the AB use these tactics to let potential future clients know that there is outside counsel thinking about them:
- Be about solutions. Understand the potential client’s challenges (even those beyond legal) and send them e-mails now and then with interesting articles about implications for their business.
- Use practice group newsletters to help drive cross-sell opportunities with other practice groups in your firm.
- For litigation attorneys, research what the company is doing in the news, review the litigation monitor report, and circle back in an email to let them know that your firm does that type of work and request an opportunity to discuss possibilities for collaboration.