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Building Relationships to Build Business -- and Using Facebook to Do It

Lawyer-client intimacy sounds like something forbidden or inappropriate. But the kind of lawyer-client intimacy that Arnie Herz discusses in this post at Legal Sanity is anything but: Herz suggests that lawyers should try to forge a personal bond with clients as a way to build a healthy, lasting and trusted relationship. He writes:

As I’ve noted before, and as Keith Ferrazzi points out in his bestselling book, Never Eat Alone, many people shy away from the idea that intimacy is key to successful business relationships. By intimacy I’m referring to a willingness to get to know the human being behind the issue or need that comes across our desk (or the airplane call button). It’s basically the same kind of intimacy that fuels healthy connections to family and friends. Many lawyers find it hard to drop the mantle of authority and really get to know their clients as human beings who have fears, hopes and challenges. But, this kind of sincere human-to-human exchange is what compels prospects to become clients and compels clients to stay with us and refer us more business.

Interestingly, Herz's post on lawyer-client intimacy coincides with blog posts by Kevin O'Keefe and Ernie the Attorney about Facebook. Traditionally viewed as a social community, more professionals are turning to Facebook to connect with each other, O'Keefe writes here:

Facebook should not be dismissed as some web site or social community where our kids hang out. Not only am I seeing a growing number of innovative lawyers and business people networking via Facebook, but Facebook is also adding an executive team that ain't joining to keep things as is.
The Wall Street Journal reports (sub req'ed) this morning the latest to join Facebook is CFO Gideon Yu, formerly with Google's YouTube.  Mr. Yu's appointment follows the hiring this month of Chamath Palihapitiya, an investor for the Mayfield Fund LP venture-capital firm, as vice president of product marketing and operations. Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt, co-founders of open-source Web browser Mozilla Firefox, are joining Facebook as part of its acquisition of their Parakey startup.

Ernie Svenson compares the differences in the more whimsical Facebook and the serious networking tool Linked In in this in this post:

I think that the differences between Facebook and LinkedIn reflect a similar sensibility in the world of online marketing or networking.  It's important to have a professional appearance, and LinkedIn is wonderful in that regard. But, it's also important to show a more human side.  People like to deal with people they feel comfortable with.  Professional networks emphasize one's professional skills.  Social networks like Facebook emphasize the personal touches.  I've known Marty Schwimmer for many years.  I've read his blog for 5 years, and I trade emails with him regularly.  I know a lot about Marty.  But I didn't know, until he became a "Facebook friend" that he was taking bass guitar lessons.  Or at least that's what his 'status page' said last Saturday.  Maybe he was kidding but that's okay too.

Looking for ways to build connections with other lawyers and potential clients is a win-win for all. As Ernie points out, "people like to deal with people they feel comfortable with" -- which means that building connections can help make money. And more importantly, even if you don't get that new client or account, if you've built a relationship with a prospect, at least you can feel that you've come away with a new friend even if you didn't win the business. And that kind of consolation prize helps make marketing and even rejection more palatable.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 25, 2007 at 07:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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