“Which networking software should I use?”
I get this question quite a bit and, for a while, I answered it. In this case, this lawyer was interested in a product, like Contactually, that would help him keep up with his contacts. He was excited about automating the process of follow up for his relationships. He wanted something to remind him to e-mail and schedule his next lunch.
Then, I happened to ask about the number of relationships he needed to manage.
I got a vague answer. So, just like I enjoy doing in a deposition, I probed deeper. I could smell weakness, embarrassment, and a resistance to fully answering my question. Blood was in the water, so I couldn’t help myself.
I have to pause to say that I think it’s this special quality many of us share—the thirst for blood—that results in so much lawyer love. I’m pretty sure nonlawyers really admire this quality. Am I right?
So, back to the blood…
When I pushed harder, he admitted—yes, he admitted—-to not having many relationships to track. I broke him. I pushed harder. He completely fell apart and revealed that he only had two referral sources he could count on to send him a steady stream of business. I was proud of myself.
Then I ranted for a bit.
Software? You need software to keep up with two relationships? I suggested that he get a 3“ x 5” index card and use one side for each contact. Scorched earth was all I left. That guy will never speak to me again. I’m just that good.
Anyway, back to the point…
The Only Networking Tool You Need
Relationship management software is cool. But relationships are cooler. Two isn’t usually enough. But you don’t need all that many. In fact, as I teach in my networking course, you don’t need a huge number of relationships to build an incredibly profitable practice.
If you’re building strong relationships, friendships really, software is rarely necessary. Software helps you manage large groups. You only need to stay in touch with a small group to grow your business.
Software is unnecessary to build a thriving practice by growing your professional network.
However, if software makes your life easier, then use it. But it’s not going to build the relationships for you. Software is not something you need to figure out before you get started. For many of us, the software becomes an unnecessary distraction that helps us feel like we’re working on our networking when we’re really not. The software becomes a diversion.
The obsession with software is the busywork that keeps us from doing the important work of dialing and e-mailing to arrange coffee and lunch. The software is the thing that gets between us and our success when it comes to creating new relationships built upon trust and connection.
The software you need to build a strong referral network is already installed in your brain. You’re good to go right now, without further delay, research, purchasing, or question asking. You need some tools, but those tools are already up and running. You need a phone to make calls and a device for sending confirmation e-mails. That’s all you need.
Now, dig deep and find your courage. See the situation for what it is, know what you need to do, and dial the number. Take a risk, make something happen, and get the ball rolling. The relationship management software can wait until you have some relationships.
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