My book recommendation this week is Making Rain: The Secrets of Building Lifelong Client Loyalty  by Andrew Sobel. As an aside, I think you will find his other books valuable as well.

In Making Rain, Andrew Sobel tells a great story about his son’s interview with the head of admissions at a college to which he was applying. Sobel describes that at the end of the one-hour interview, his son said to the admissions director, “I notice you’re wearing an Outward Bound pin. Are you a graduate?” “Oh, yes,” she beamed. “This past summer I finally took one of their adult courses–it was something I had wanted to do for years.”

As Sobel points out, this story illustrates how you can break through when you make an emotional connection with someone.

What does all this mean to lawyers? Put simply observation and doing your homework can be powerful client development techniques because it allows you to connect with the client on a personal level.

Here are some ideas on applying those techniques. Before you meet with a client or prospective client do your homework. Prepare for the meeting by finding out as much about the person and the company as you can. Where did the client representative go to college and law school? Where did he work before joining the client? Has he written any articles?

When you arrive at the office, take a look at the coffee table books and magazines in the reception area. They may be industry magazines or may be books about the city or state of the business. Whatever they happen to be, they convey the client’s interests or values.

Meetings in the client’s office provide ample opportunity for observation. What is on the wall and shelves? Are there sports pictures, pictures of his or her kids, or works of art? What books are on the book shelves? Is the office neat and tidy or kind of messy?

With the information you gather by observation you can find ways to connect with the client. You can subscribe to trade publications, send things you find that will be of interest to your client, and read some of the books that interest you.

Do you have a book you would like to review for readers here? If, so let me know.