Whether you are searching for employment or seeking new referral sources, networking is all the rage. The key to networking is to develop credible relationships over time. That way, people will think of you when they hear about a new job opportunity or when they need to make a referral to another attorney. Merely meeting someone once at an event will not have this effect, and thus you need to follow up with your contacts to cultivate relationships. After an event, you can use an email, handwritten note, or social media to connect with the people whom you have met. Thereafter, you may want to schedule an in-person meeting. After that meeting, you should maintain contact on a regular basis. You might schedule regular meetings with this contact, send along articles of interest, congratulate your contact on an achievement, invite your contact to an event or program, and/or send your contact business. So, then, how do you manage this process efficiently and effectively? My (typical) response: “With technology, of course!”
There are a number of programs that can help you track contacts. Customer relationship management systems (CRM) are often used for this purpose. Traditionally, CRMs have been used by professional sales organizations to manage the sales process. These tools are now being used by law firms to track referral sources and potential clients, and can be used to manage the networking process I describe above.
While there are many products available, there are a few Cloud-based products that I’ve tested and think work well as contact managers. ZohoCRM, Insightly, and StreakCRM are three free products that integrate well with Gmail and Google Calendar. (Note: The three products identified in this post, ZohoCRM, Insightly, and StreakCRM are only a few of the many CRM systems available.) If you are not yet a Google user and you need some incentive to switch to Google products, I recommend reading this article adapted and excerpted from Google Gmail and Calendar in One Hour for Lawyers by Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch.
In general (each product functions a bit differently), these three products allow you to store the contact details that you have collected, including notes and records of meetings. You can access your contacts from within Gmail, set reminders, assign tasks, and schedule meetings via Google calendar. Individual contact records will display notes, reminders, tasks, events, and emails between you and the contact. Documents can even be tied to contacts, and at least two of the products allow you to log calls. These programs also offer more sophisticated functions such as reports, collaboration tools, prospecting charts, and even more options if upgraded to a premium version. Rather than creating your own contact management system in a piecemeal fashion, the foregoing integrated solutions can save you time and keep you well organized while maintaining a large database of contacts and managing relationships with those contacts.
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For more on how CRM systems can benefit your practice, attend the ‘Third Annual Super Marketing Conference: Accelerate Your Marketing’, on May 16, 2013, at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, or online. The conference features a keynote address by Mark Britton, Founder and CEO of Avvo.
For a full program agenda, and to RSVP, visit: www.lunchhourlegalmarketing.com.
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