Rainmaking Recommendation #253: Stop, Collaborate and Listen

For those young ’uns who don’t know, the title of this Rainmaking Recommendation is the first line from the song, Ice, Ice Baby (1990) by Vanilla Ice*.  No, I am not a fan, but while trying to think of a Rainmaking Recommendation for this week, this became an earworm.  An earworm is the slang term for when a song gets stuck in your head. 

But it does bring us to the theme of today’s Rainmaking Recommendation – Collaboration. 

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines collaboration as:

“to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor.”

Can you imagine how big your book of business could be if you collaborated with your law firm colleagues?  If there are 25, 50, 100, 2,000, or more attorneys in your firm, how can you help their clients?  How can they help you with yours?

Many years ago, I wrote a blog that explained that the worst thing you could hear a client say is, “I didn’t know you (your firm) did that.”

The biggest problem in many law firms of any size, particularly for Mid-market, Big Law, and Distributed (Virtual Firms), is that practice areas silo most. As a result, one practice area doesn’t know upon what the other areas are working. Breaking down walls of those silos might be difficult on a firm-wide basis, but for you, the individual Rainmaker, it doesn’t have to be.

Some of your colleagues can become your best referral sources.  Let’s, for example, say that your full-service law firm has both business-related practices and consumer-related practices.  Now, let’s imagine that one of the matrimonial attorneys in your firm is working on the divorce of a high-profile and successful business owner.  That business owner may need a new home after the dissolution of their marriage, utilizing a Real Estate attorney in your firm.  Or maybe they need a new Will that removes the spouse as a beneficiary, necessitating the use of a Trusts & Estates attorney.  Or perhaps, because they are happy with your services, you can suggest one of the corporate attorneys or employment law attorneys help them in their business as well. 

To build this collaboration, it behooves you to network internally.  This is particularly useful if you have many attorneys and many office locations.

Do you know all of your colleagues? Unfortunately, the answer in many instances is NO, but you should.  

“But Jaimie,” you think, “I work in an AmLaw Firm with more than 4000 attorneys.”   To which I say, “So What.”  Obviously, you aren’t going to get to know every single one of them, but how many do you know?

How many are you connected to on social media?

How many do you know in your office location or geographic area in which you live and practice?

To how many have you personally spoken?

Think about the answer to those questions and then do something to increase those numbers:

  • Connect with them on LinkedIn
  • Send an email introducing yourself and explain that you want to start cross-marketing actively and collaborating with them; make an appointment to chat with them via phone, video, or in-person.
  • Pick one person from each practice area (particularly if the firm also has industry niches) and meet with this group no less than once per month to discuss current clients and how you can potentially cross-market services to them.

Oh, and the listening part of the title of this rainmaking recommendation is simple but not easy. First, you have to begin to listen to your clients and prospective clients for clues that they may need help in areas other than the one you provide.  Listen to them carefully and ask questions that may lead you to refer that client/potential client to someone in your firm. 

*By the way, if you have never seen the video for the song, it is a glorious example of what late 80’s and early 90’s music and fashion were all about. So grab your slap bracelet and neon t-shirt and enjoy!

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