It was 1976. After five years practicing law on active duty in the United States Air Force, I excitedly began my life in private practice as a general commercial litigator in what was by 1976 standards a medium sized firm in Roanoke, Virginia.

I was open to just about any idea that would help me become successful. So, when I was advised that I “needed” to join the North Roanoke Rotary Club, I jumped at the chance. After attending several of the weekly dinner meetings and participating in the club’s bingo fundraising events, I discovered no one in the club was a potential client or referral source.

By 1978, I had figured out I was not making the progress I had hoped as a general commercial litigator, so I narrowed my focus to government contracts and construction contracts. I became active in the state and local division of the ABA’s Public Contract Law Section.

By 1980 I had been on a task force that helped redraft Virginia’s Public Contract Law Statutes. That year I was asked to speak at the ABA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. After speaking on state highway construction contract disputes, I realized that not one person in the audience was a potential client or referral sources. The best I could hope from that audience was to be a mail drop if any lawyer had a case in my area.

Photo taken after a presentation to National Asphalt Pavement Association

In 1981, I spoke at the Virginia Road and Transportation Builders’ Association Annual Meeting. (I still have my presentation materials). An executive from the American Road and Transportation Builders’ Association heard me speak and asked me to speak at their Contractor’s Meeting the next summer. Executives from other state chapters heard me speak that summer and all of a sudden I was speaking to contractors all over the country.

What does my story have to do with you? I hope the title of this post gave it away. You have to hang out where your clients and referral sources hang out.

Where do your clients and referral sources hang out? What organizations do they belong to? What meetings do they go to? What are they reading?

Hang out in those places.