For the past month or so, most of my effort has been invested in networking. I’m
in survival mode building my practice, and I’ve been busting my tail (i) making sure my name is recognizable and (ii) putting together a strong network of folks that I can do business with. I’ve got a spreadsheet with about 500 names in it, from attorneys to chiropractors to insurance agents, and everyone in between. I’m going to lunches, I’m meeting people in their offices, I’m writing letters, and I’m calling people on the phone.
The scariest thing about building a practice, aside from the prospect of homelessness, is reaching out to somebody you don’t know; especially when that person knows perfectly well that you’ve got a financial motive for doing so. It’s hard to pick up the phone and make that introductory call, and that goes double when the person you’re calling is an established attorney with a good reputation and a long client list. What if you they blow you off? What if they laugh? What if they tell you that you’re an idiot to take such a risk in this economic climate?
The natural reaction to this fear, for most people (present company included), is to leave Moby Dick alone in the deep water and go after the smaller fish. You know, the guy you went to law school with who started his firm six months ago. Your parents’ neighbor who exclusively practices Indonesian trademark law. The old dude from church who retired during the Carter administration. Those calls carry less risk. They’re a lot easier to make, so we make them.
The problem is that those low-risk calls tend to also be low-reward calls. Your buddies, neighbors and fellow parishioners probably aren’t going to be able to send you a whole bunch of cases. If you want to build your business – which is, after all, what we’re all here for – you need to go outside of your comfort zone and make the calls that scare you. What you’ll find is that the scary calls aren’t so scary after all.
The established, successful lawyers have the cases to refer out. More importantly, they’ve been where you are. They know what the struggle is like. Most importantly, they know how to build a practice the right way. They have the advice that you need, and they are almost universally happy to give it to you. People who hate being asked for advice don’t put their names on business cards and awnings. A couple of big fish will contribute a lot more to your success than a couple dozen small ones.
Make the call. Make a friend. In a few years, you can return the favor when some starry-eyed young lawyer calls your office.
David has been around civil litigation, in some capacity, for his entire life. While he always knew that he wanted to practice law, he didn't discover his passion for business until he got his first