Have I ever told you I hated going to events and conferences? I only went if I was speaking, and I always tried to arrange my presentation so it was before the cocktail party.

Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t. I remember when I was asked to speak at a Maryland Bar Association Annual Meeting held during the summer on the Eastern Shore. I arrived on Friday night, just in time for the cocktail party. I didn’t know any of the lawyers, so I stood with my diet coke in one hand and a vegetable plate in the other. After I finished my diet coke, I left and went to my room.

You might ask:

“Why didn’t you strike up a conversation with anyone?”

I never liked just striking up conversations with people I didn’t know. In this case, the lawyers were catching up with their friends from other parts of the state. What could I add to their conversation? Not much.

My presentation the next morning was at 8:00 AM. When I started my presentation only five people were in the audience. They told me the lawyers stay out late after the cocktail party. When I finished, there were at least 10 lawyers in the audience.

In 2019, you will likely attend one or more conferences. Like me, speaking at the Maryland Bar Association Annual Meeting, you may not know anyone at the conference. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

Eric Pruitt is a Birmingham, Alabama lawyer I coached 11 years ago. When I first met Eric he told me he would be attending an industry conference and asked if I had any ideas for him. I gave him some and told him to read chapters from Keith Ferrazzi’s book: Never Eat Alone. Eric did and it changed how he approached industry conferences. Here are some of Eric’s thoughts that he shared with me when I was coaching him.

Keith Farrazzi has 15 Tips for Being a Conference Commando. Some of it sounds over the top, or “dorky”, however, I decided to look at his tips with an open mind and see how I could apply his concepts as a lawyer. I found some great ideas. Here are a few of the things I’ve started doing:

  1. Develop a plan. Work to identify people you want to meet, schedule lunches/dinners/drinks/ etc. . . before the meeting. I’m attending the CMSA Annual Meeting in NY next month and have worked to schedule these events in advance and am working on identifying the “celebrity status” (people of importance in the organization – not real celebs) that I want to meet while I’m there.
  2. Work on building relationships with people, not seeing how many people I can meet and give a business card to. Focus on the person I’m talking to, don’t let my eyes wander and attempt to find the next target.
  3. Take notes on the people I meet and follow up quickly with a hand written note. Use the notes so I can make a personal connection in my follow up correspondence.
  4. Have a “what can I do for this person” attitude instead of “how can I do legal work for this person”. Helping others is a great way to build a network.
  5. If it is an industry organization that you want to become more involved in, find a non-threatening way to volunteer for tasks at the meeting. This can provide opportunities to find out about special invitation events, get to know leaders, etc. . .

These are just some quick comments. The book is packed with great insight.

What can you learn from Eric’s ideas and actually use at the next event you attend?

A lawyer I coach recently asked:

I have a quick question for you: do you have any blog posts or other guidance on a suggested method for reaching out to people who are contacts of colleagues, but not very close (the kind they met at a conference once), to try to get a meeting or other direct exposure to them?

Great question. Many have touched on that subject in books, articles, blogs.

Woman waving SS 88006990

First step is to do research on the person and or his/her company. Look them up and see if they have any articles presentations etc on line. Read what they have written or presented and come up with a question you can ask them.

I think the best way to follow up is to have some kind of event you can invite them to, especially if it is an interest you share.

Invite him or her to lunch with statement “I want to pick your brain.”

One book you might consider is Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. Here is an article.
Here is a link to the workbook for the book

Here also is a good summary of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone.
More good reading 

Finally Jeffrey Gitomer wrote a book The Sales Bible. You can get it on Amazon but here is a pdf on Slideshare. Look at slide 56 which confirms my idea about inviting the person to something.

A lawyer I am coaching sent me an email about an event she would be attending.

I’ve some exciting news. I’m planning to attend the AAA Asssociation Annual Meeting in a couple of weeks. A current client of the firm is also attending the event and has offered to introduce me around to her contacts. As you know, I’m trying to grow my book of business servicing ZZZ companies.

I wanted to reach out to you to get some advice on how I should be prepare for the upcoming event and to make the best use of this opportunity. This is the first conference of this type that I will be attending. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.

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It is always great to have a client going to the event and introducing you to her contacts. But, sometimes you are on your own.

I recommended the lawyer read three short pieces I believe are helpful.

The first is from Bob Burg.  It is his 10 Feel Good Questions.

The second is 15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi:Conference Commando

The third is a Forbes piece about following up after the event: How To Master The Art Of Networking Follow-Up.

I believe all three have ideas worth considering to prepare for an event.

Do you have a brand? When clients think of you, what comes first to their minds?

One of the books  I most frequently recommend is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  When it first came out several years ago I both listened to the book and read a hard copy.

Most law firms are focused on building their brand, but only a few lawyers are focused on it. In chapters 23 and 24, Ferrazzi discusses building and broadcasting your individual brand.

What do you want people to think when they hear your name? There is also a great 1997 article Tom Peters wrote for Fast Company magazine titled: The Brand Called You. Interestingly, his points are still valid today. He writes:

If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It’s influence power.

When I was building my law practice, how did I try to create influence power.  I wanted my potential clients to think I was:

  1. The preeminent transportation construction lawyer in the US
  2.  Innovative
  3. Construction business savvy
  4. Likeable
  5. Caring
  6. Focused on helping contractors

For 25 years I wrote a column for Roads and Bridges magazine titled “Law: The Contractor’s Side.” That column enabled me to build my brand more than anything else I did. First, it gave me the opportunity to show readers I understood them and the construction industry. Second, the column led to many speaking opportunities, which furthered my opportunity.

What do you want your clients to think about you? What is the best way to show them your brand?

One final thing: The Kindle version of my books-Prepare to Win, Say Ciao to Chow Mein, Rising Star and It Takes a Team are on sale at Amazon for $2.99 and $1.99, less than 1/2 what I will pay for my Latte this morning.

never-eat-alone.jpgOne of my favorite business books is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I have listened to the book on my iPod and read a hard copy of the book.

Most law firms are focused on building their brand, but only a few lawyers are focused on it. In chapters 23 and 24, Ferrazzi discusses building and broadcasting your individual brand.

The starting point is to decide what you want people to think when they hear your name? When I was building my law practice I wanted my potential clients to think I was:

  1. The preeminent transportation construction lawyer in the US
  2.  Innovative
  3. A lawyer who understood how projects were financed, designed and built
  4. A lawyer who understood the construction business
  5. Trust worthy
  6. Likeable
  7. Caring
  8. Focused on helping contractors

For 25 years I wrote a column for Roads and Bridges magazine titled “Law: The Contractor’s Side.” That column enabled me to build my brand more than anything else I did.

So, you have two questions to ponder. First, what do you want people to think when they hear your name? Second, what are you doing to build your brand?