It’s fair to say that we have all learned a lot during the past surreal 12 months. We have learned how to cut our own hair. How to walk in single file when passing other families. How to ration our viewing of streamed box sets.
In business we have learned how to operate remotely from our colleagues. We have used new approaches to technology and developed processes to manage, supervise and support via Teams and Zoom.
For me, one thing that has stood out increasingly has been the importance of relationships.
My job is Business Development, and so creating links and alliances has always been something I have worked towards. It’s true (my FD was keen to point it out!) that the last twelve months we have been more successful than ever at winning new work, and that has been without any of my old style swanning around the country speaking at events and continuing to develop a worrying level of caffeine dependency.
However, I’m more and more convinced that what I did prior to the pandemic has played a major part in the ability to continue to operate and develop business opportunities.
We carried out analysis of the best sources of new work for our business and we found that by a long way, the two best sources of new enquiries were referrals from existing clients and referrals from strategic partners.
We are a service business so the first source is pleasing because it suggests our service teams are doing the great job that I tell everyone about. The strategic partner referrals are slightly different.
We have worked hard to create a network of legal sector specialist suppliers who know what we do and how we do it, so that if they come across a firm needing our type of services, they kindly refer them for a chat. The same works both ways, in that I know what they do, and given the opportunity can similarly point people in their direction.
We very much operate a ‘karma marketing’ approach- do enough good deeds for others and the good stuff will flow back around. It’s not commission based, it is good will based. And that’s where I get to the main point of this article (At last, I hear you cry!).
The strength of the business relationships developed over the years, and in many cases out and out friendships, meant that Teams and Zoom calls worked so much better. There was no awkwardness, and in many ways the fact that we were all desk bound meant we were able to meet far more frequently without the whole “When are you next in London?” type of scheduling nightmare.
We’ve also seen the power of groups of allies. We are involved with more than a dozen different groups, ranging from marketing and publication groups such as Calico Legal Group and Law Firm Ambition, to business networking groups like Northern Legal Alliance and Consortium of Professional Advisors. Joining these groups enables us to share ideas, to be introduced warmly to new friends, and to introduce others. This is old school networking, but enabled and strengthened by the joining of modern remote meeting capabilities with existing strong relationships. If the relationships weren’t there before we moved onto remote meetings, the interaction would not have been as strong and productive.
Law firms themselves benefit from some wonderful group memberships such as Lawshare, Fusion Law, Law South and Bold Legal Group, and we try to support those groups wherever possible. It’s all part of relationship development, and has enabled us to reach a broader potential market via webinars and publications.
One thing we have all come to appreciate is that whilst it is perfectly possible to thrive when working remotely and individually, there’s no need to work in isolation. There’s a real power in collaboration and relationship development, and long may that be the case.
Alex Holt, Cashroom