Business Development for lawyers: How to farm your network successfully

Last month we looked at the different ways you can meet the contacts (prospective clients, potential referrers and influential people in your sector or local area) you will need to build a successful practice. This month we’re going to look at some practical ways to keep in touch with them once you’ve met them.

business development

While the importance of staying in touch is undoubtedly patently obvious, it is – in our experience at least – an area that can find itself neglected during times when your legal work builds up and time is at a premium.

The only problem is that if you are going to be front of mind as and when opportunities for work from your new contacts arise, you need to ensure you are front of mind. This is where picking up on these tips will pay dividends as your practice (and your network) develops.

Your watchword (or should that be ‘watch-phrase’?) has to be ‘little and often’. I know your time is needed first and foremost for legal work so all of these tips are not just proven but also highly time-efficient.

1. Social media

Generally speaking at the start of your career Twitter and Facebook are probably going to be of limited use promotion-wise (though Twitter is a brilliant tool with which to monitor news, trends and competitor activity in your practice area). LinkedIn however offers you the perfect way to stay visible to your contacts.

By adding a couple of updates (nothing more complicated than a link to a useful news article or a blog or article your firm has published or an event your firm might be running) a week and perhaps publishing a post once a month, you will remind everyone you are linked in with that you are around and what you are around for.

Another good way to use LinkedIn is to scroll through your contacts once every couple of weeks and use the messaging facility to drop any you haven’t seen for a while a line to say hello and ask if they’re OK.

2. ‘Saw this and thought of you’

This line was stolen shamelessly from an old Post Office ad and I have to say it’s probably the marketing mechanism that delivers the best response rate for our business.

All you need to do is copy a link to a relevant article (work related or personal interest related) into an email and send it to the person/people you think will be interested in it saying – you guessed it – ‘saw this and thought of you’.

If you want a really good response, send a hard copy of the article in the post. In these email driven days something delivered through the post really stands out.

3. Using the first and last hours of the day

Once you are up and running during the working day taking a break for a coffee with a contact can be tough and it’s all too easy to postpone which will have a less than positive effect on your end objective, to build a relationship. Instead of planning your coffees during working hours, organise them for 8.30 or 5.30.

And again if you are going to keep on top of who you need to have coffee with you need to be organised. You need to know the last time you saw them and the next time you need to see them so if you’d like a copy of our ‘coffee plan’ template drop me a line at

4. Your CRM system

Do you really know everything your CRM system can do for you? I know you get sheep dipped through basic training but it’s always worth just having another look at the notes or having a quick chat with the IT guys. CRM systems could make it easy to band your contacts together and automate consistent contact throughout the year.

5. Make the most of your smart phone

Everyone has email and LinkedIn in their pockets these days. This makes staying in touch simple and practical. Keep a list of who you need to say hello to in your phone’s note function and then when you’re on the train going to work, waiting for the kettle to boil or having a quick sandwich you can fire off two emails.

Again, as with all of these tips, it takes seconds to do but it will, I guarantee you, pay off handsomely in terms of ensuring you are staying visible to everyone you meet.

Douglas McPherson is director of Size 10 1/2 Boots, a BD agency that specialises in the professional services.