I spent the day last week talking with a group of lawyers about creative marketing ideas. We covered all sorts of progressive, aggressive approaches to generating new business employing the latest technology and ideas. Unfortunately, these group members were suffering from a problem. We all have the same disorder. We suffer from Networking Avoidance Disorder (N.A.D.).
I figured it out when, during one of the rare lulls in the conversation, the topic of networking came up.
Some asked how often each of us took someone out to lunch or coffee to build a referral relationship.
Silence engulfed the room. Eyes shifted toward the floor. This group suffers from N.A.D.
Of course, a few members of the group do regular networking lunches. They’ve built a thriving practice based on referrals.
However, the others said that they don’t do lunch often. They know they should, but they don’t.
These non-networking lawyers are avoiding networking to their detriment. They’re taking the easy way out by focusing on technology, advertising, and other non-networking approaches to generating business.
Why won’t they network? Because N.A.D. is a horrible and disabling affliction.
I think that deep down, we avoid networking due to fear of rejection. It’s like dating. We don’t want to ask and get turned down. We avoid pain, and networking has the potential (mostly imagined) to be painful.
So why not accept who we are and use these non-networking approaches to marketing? Why not just build a great website, run some pay-per-click ads, and hope for the best?
Because networking has the highest return on investment of any marketing approach. We can spend an hour or two and begin a relationship that generates a dozen or more referrals each year. With a bit of follow-up, those referrals can continue for decades. There isn’t another approach that has such a high payoff for such a low price.
If you’ve got N.A.D., then it’s time for treatment. It’s time for a cure. You can’t afford to allow N.A.D. to control your life.
My experience is that the cure comes one day at a time. It starts with a phone call placed early in the day inviting a friendly lawyer to lunch. The call goes well, and the positive reinforcement is the key to the cure. The next day you place another call and schedule another lunch.
The next thing you know, you’re going to lunches several days a week, and the lunches turn out to be fun. You’re on your way to recovery.
Suddenly, referrals start to call your office, and some of those referrals become clients. More and more positive reinforcement is the cure.
As your practice grows, you’ve got to keep placing those calls and scheduling those lunches. The calls are the key to maintaining your treatment so that you don’t relapse into N.A.D.
You can do it: place those calls, and Networking Avoidance Disorder can be a part of your past.