“It’s better to be more interested than interesting”

Do you remember the Billy Crystal segment on SNL years ago as Fernando Lamas: “It’s better to rook good than to feel good.” Well, that advice may not be the best, but in attempting to better serve a client  “It’s better to be more interested than interesting.”
I just returned from another conference in which many of my colleagues and I are vying for the attention of clients and potential clients.  There is always the opportunity to buy a drink, plan an event or go to dinner. I enjoy all of those times, but honestly, I cannot compete with some of “groups.” There is always someone who can buy a more expensive dinner, do a bigger event or talk louder.
Believe it or not, some lawyers struggle with “ego.” Well maybe they don’t struggle with it; they fully embrace it! They often like to “blow their own horn” rather than  take an interest in the client. Maybe it works for the moment, but I tend to think about  the “long-term.”
Scott Dinsmore, contributor to Forbes Magazine, wrote “The Seven Pillars of Connecting With Absolutely Anyone” advising that “interested people” are set apart from all of the others.
His finding are simple and just about any lawyer can do them. Dinsmore points out… “I don’t care what your goals, industry or interests are, there’s no getting around it: Personal relationships run the world.”
If you are a potential client, do you consider you are a friend or a commodity? As a provider of services, do you care more about what you can get or what you can give? The following are some points that Mr. Dinsmore makes that are worthy of  consideration:
1. Be genuine. The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the person, then stop trying.
2. Provide massive help. Even the most powerful people in the world have something they’d like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn’t be able to offer anything in return. But you have more to offer than you realize. You may write an article about them, share their project with your community, and offer to spread their message through a video interview with them.
Are you getting the point here? It’s NOT about you! Give real thought on how you can benefit their goals. If it turns out you can’t be helpful, at least you made an authentic gesture.
3. Pay ridiculous attention. if you don’t pay attention — genuine attention — then how can you expect to be of service? Do your research by reading blog posts, books and articles about the connection beforehand. Learn about their backgrounds and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what really matters to them and how you can help.
4. Connect with people close to them. You arrive with credibility when referred by a mutual friend to someone you want to meet . Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.

Have you ever been to an event, where you are talking to someone and then he  sees someone “more important” and snubs you? That person will never get a recommendation from me. Don’t make the same mistake by snubbing someone you think is less important.
5. Persistence wins. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first try may get you nowhere, but the fifth or the tenth tries are the ones that start to yield results. An unreturned email or voicemail doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. It’s your job to be persistent! Usually only about 2 percent of the initial contacts ever follow up. Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t be invisible either.
6. Make real friends. Think about how you’ve made the friends you have. That’s all this is. You only make friends with people you genuinely want in your life.
I have learned this lesson from Dirk Beckwith from Michigan. Dirk and I met several years ago as we served on an ethics panel at the annual Transportation Lawyers Association. I like Dirk. He is easy to chat with and there is no “hard sale” and he really wants to know how you are doing.  He doesn’t over think it. He enjoys getting to know people and spending time with them, even if it’s not a client contact.
Be human, be helpful and most people will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are.
7. Remain unforgettable. This doesn’t mean being an obnoxiously loud, overbearing “know it all.” Instead do more memorable things such us send birthday cards. Mail your favorite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Be genuinely helpful. You’d be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn’t as hard as some think!” I recently made a note that one of my clients is particularly interested in the Louisiana Brown Pelican so I am on the lookout for an interesting picture or token. 
Also, I try to send tokens of appreciation unique to Louisiana. Many of our clients appreciate the pralines and Community coffee that we send. It’s just a way to be different, but all of that is completely for nothing if we don’t genuinely care. 
The world is run by relationships… yes, even today in this highly digital world of Facebook, Linked in and other social media. Take some time to  enjoy asking people questions and getting to know them. You can’t do that in digital world like you can over a cup of coffee.
I think I get most bothered when I lose a client that I have fostered a friendship, but there are many reasons that this can happen and none of them may be because of a relationship problem. At least I made the effort of developing a relationship and caring about the client’s interests than just having a client because of the short-term gain of a few dollars. 
The lawyer that gets this will certainly have an easier time practicing law… and actually making a good living at it.

Not to mention being happier… relationships make our lives richer!

Recent Posts