One of the best ways to add extra value to your clients as a legal marketing consultant is to be the son of a small-town doctor. Obvious, right?
I grew up in the small town pictured above. Corning, New York — Population: 12,000. Looking back at it from middle age, I now realize it was an idyllic place to grow up. I learned a lot there that I still rely on. Like the value of relationships.
My father was the town doctor. It was (obviously) a very small place, and everyone knew him. He had delivered a lot of babies, patched up a lot of people in the emergency room, and being the only board-certified surgeon in our part of the state, operated on a lot of patients. Unfortunately for me, however, he and I look exactly alike, and so everyone knew me, too. Like, everyone. It was impossible for me to be Just Another Kid.
Total strangers would walk up to me all the time, and tell me how great my dad was. Sometimes — and I am not making this up — they would yank up their shirts to show me the scar from his removal of their appendix/gall bladder/whatever. If I was anything other than faultlessly polite to them, I’d hear about it later. Consequently, I got to be really, really good at relationships, talking and listening, and dealing with people from a very young age. It was baked into me.
As a result, I am also really, really good – probably kind of insane about it, really – at making and managing contacts. I have several thousand, in all kinds of industries, and I’m pretty much a rock star at taking notes, adding new people, and so on. I’ve been in business for myself for twenty years or so, and so I have a LOT of contacts, pretty carefully organized.
Which leads me to the point (finally). One real service I’ve found a can deliver to my clients is introductions. Because of my upbringing, it’s kind of an instinct, but it has proven to be incredibly valuable to a lot of my clients to be introduced to some of my contacts. I’ve gotten people jobs. I’ve connected them with clients, and other firms to partner with. There are a thousand variations on this, but the central idea is that a lot of the value you can deliver as a consultant (or as anything) is who you know, if you work at it a little.
And if you think about it. That’s really the key. Whenever you meet someone, or talk with someone, stop for a minute near the end of the conversation, and ask yourself what they’re trying to accomplish, and whether you know anyone who can help them. If you do, speak up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an electrician, a referral from another lawyer, or a graphic designer. It can, in fact, simply be someone interesting.
It’s easy to underestimate the value of these introductions, but it’s also a mistake. In fact, if you link up the right two people, the impact can be overwhelming. As an example, I recently connected a client in Singapore up with an American technology company. The Singapore client has developed a security application that is a) unique; b) really good; c) meets a major need for US law firms. The US technology firm specializes in consulting to law firms on technology, and really needs what the Singapore client had developed. The connection was instant, and enthusiastic. You could practically hear the well-oiled parts clicking into place. Everyone won.
Whatever business you believe you’re in, in the end, it’s also a people business. Connections are interestingly, both priceless and free. Keep that in mind, and you’ll deliver way more value to the people around you. And, ultimately, to yourself.