Developing a good rapport with clients and trust among your fellow attorneys can lead to better case results, happier clients, and a more pleasurable work environment. Lawyers, and particularly trial attorneys, need to make emotional connections and be persuasive. But, all too often, these essential aspects of practice development are overlooked. So what should introverted lawyers do to improve networking, client and coworker relationships, and overall success in their careers?
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Heidi Alexander interviews Jason Treu, former lawyer turned marketer and business coach, about building relationships, social engineering, and practical steps lawyers can take to improve their networking skills.
- Improving relationships to move the bottom line
- Emotional connections to drive good leadership
- Learning to understand human behavior through experience
- Why a mentor is necessary
- Preparing for engagement in conversations
- Tips for networking at an event
- Following up and optimizing relationships for referrals
Jason Treu, formerly a lawyer, is a business and executive coach, and a self-proclaimed social engineering and persuasion expert. He has written a how-to guide on social and professional relationships entitled “Social Wealth,” contributes to numerous publications, and spoken extensively about building professional relationships.
Special thanks to our sponsor Amicus Attorney.
Advertiser: Welcome to the Legal Toolkit; bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm. Here are your hosts – experienced lawyers, writers and entrepreneurs, Heidi Alexander and Jared Correia. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Heidi Alexander: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Legal Toolkit here on Legal Talk Network. I’m your host, Heidi Alexander. I’m also a law practice advisor with Massachusettes LOMAP. LOMAP provides free and confidential law practice management consulting services to Massachusetts attorneys. For more information on LOMAP’s offerings, visit our website on MassLOMAP.org. So here on the Legal Toolkit, my co host, Jared Correia and I, provide you with a new tool each month to add to your own legal toolkit so that your practices will become more and more like best practices. Before we get started, we’d like to thank our sponsor, Amicus Attorney, the world’s leading practice solution for lawyers. Amicus Attorney helps manage your law firm so that you could concentrate on being a lawyer. To learn more, visit AmicusAttorney.com. So today, we’ll be chatting about the importance of being likable in the legal profession. Of course, it’s nice to be likable in any profession, but especially as an attorney. Developing a good rapport with clients and trust among your colleagues could lean to better case results, happier clients, and of course a more pleasurable work environment. These essential aspects of practice development are all too often overlooked. Joining me today is Jason Treu. Jason is a former lawyer, turned marketer, turned business coach. In addition to his coaching, he calls himself a social engineering and persuasion expert, which we’ll hear more about during the course of the interview. He has written a how-to guide on building social and professional relationships entitled “Social Wealth,” which is available on Amazon. He also contributes to numerous publications, and has appeared as a guest on many podcasts. And I especially like his domain name, BeExtraordinary.tv. Of course, that’s one you’ll remember. Thanks for joining me today, Jason.
Jason Treu: Thanks for having me on, Heidi. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your fantastic tribe.
Heidi Alexander: Absolutely, thank you. So your entire career is built on helping people building relationships with others. So tell me why this skill is so important and in particular, how does it impact attorneys?
Jason Treu: Our whole life is about relationships. In the end, no one wants a tombstone that says they worked a good life. They want to have something about making impact, and relationships really form our experiences. On the professional side of things, we have to have great relationships with the people that we work with internally, in a law firm or a corporate setting, as well as our clients. And when you can tap into that relationship building skillset, you can move the bottom line farther for yourself and also be much more successful with your clients.
Heidi Alexander: So lawyers – and I’m thinking of trial lawyers in particular – they need to be persuasive. Now there are types of lawyers also need to be persuasive, you have to be an advocate for your client. Are there applications for this type of skill outside of the courtroom? I’m assuming you’re going to say yes but then you’re going to tell me why.
Jason Treu: Well, if you’re inside any environment, you have to work with other attorneys, paralegals, other people. You have to be able to form great relationships with them, also be able to really tap into their emotions and what’s really going on. If you want to lead other people, you have to have the skillset to build over time. So you have to build rapport with people and find things in common with them. Be able to overcome obstacles and deal with conflict in a way that doesn’t cause tension. You have to be able to communicate and really find solutions to work with people. Otherwise you start to alienate people, build a lot of drama, and you cause a lot of tension problems that are going on. Also the same thing with a client. You have to be able to tap into understand if they’re nervous, what’s going on, and really sort of help them in the process as well. If you can’t tap in yourself and your own emotions and really get down deep into who you are, you’re not going to be able to do that in the outside because you’re going to refuse to ask questions that you don’t know the answers to in an emotional level.
Heidi Alexander: So social engineering, I mentioned earlier, is a way you described yourself. And I’ve heard about this in the data security context. Hackers are tricking people into breaking security protocols. But I think you’re using it in a slightly different way, so talk about social engineering and what it is.
Jason Treu: It’s really about human behavior. I believe that human behavior and understanding it is just like learning math or reading or science. It’s a learned skillset. And if you want to be successful in life, you have to learn these skills. Otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of problems in everything that you do. And it’s not something you just pick up naturally, people are not born with these skillsets, you learn them overtime. Even if you’re an extrovert, it doesn’t mean that you’re good at it. Many introverts – and I’ve had introverts as clients – are way better at building relationships and relating with people than people that are very extroverted. So you have to sit down and understand the skillsets and then practice them. It’s just like working out, if you decide to work out once a month, that’s not going to help you. You’ve got to do it during the week several times and really have a plan and have a strategy and understand how you’re doing it.
Heidi Alexander: So you work with a number of clients and do you help them create these plans? And how often do you suggest that people try to practice this? Attorneys are so busy and I’m always getting pushed back when I say draft up a marketing plan or a business plan. And attorneys always say I don’t have time to do that. I see the value but is there some strategy that you have in terms of how often you should be doing this? Is it ten minutes a day, two minutes a day? Any sort of strategy?
Jason Treu: I think you should always be looking at how to do things strategically. The best place to go practice is in groups because you can reach the most amount of people in the least amount of time. And the groups you want to go into are places where you can find prospective clients or people that might want to work in your same environment. The best places to go are charity organizations and nonprofits; meaning museums, opera, symphony, because that’s where wealthy people go, that’s where socially mobile people go. The easy thing about it is they have events during the week from maybe 6 to 8 o’clock or 7 or 9 or they have bigger events on the weekends. You can go to a couple of events like this and be very strategic and go for an hour or hour and a half and you can meet anywhere from 5 to 20 people and really practice these skillsets and practice them in an environment where people’s defenses are down. Meaning they want to meet you and also your meeting people that you could be doing business with in many different capacities. So it’s a very strategic way and then you’re building also personal relationships and people that matter and that really are in the spirit of giving which is always a better place to start a relationship off of.
Heidi Alexander: So what you’re talking about is learning by experience, really. Are there other resources that you would point attorneys to to learn about how to adapt these skillsets or what skills are important for attorneys in this context?
Jason Treu: You can read books, that’s always helpful. The challenge is eventually you’ve got to put this in a practice. And that’s the biggest problem, it’s not knowledge, it’s applied knowledge. So you have to find people that are going to help you build these skillsets up if you don’t know the knowledge. Because implementing them is way more difficult than understanding them, and that gap is significant. You have have a plan a road map when you go out. A lot of it is just getting out there and practicing it, but you have to have a strategy going into conversations. How are you going to start the conversation? How are you going to continue it? How are you going to follow-up? So you have to have a plan. Most people just go into a conversation and they just think it’s either going to happen or it’s not.That’s not the case, it’s just like business. You go into a prospective client or anyone else, and you decide you’re just going to wing it, it’s not going to matter. It’s not going to go nearly as well as you planned it out. So when you actually plan it out, the other thing that happens is you feel a lot of spontaneous in a conversation because you feel a lot more comfortable because you have a guide to move forward and a guide that you know is going to be more successful. So I think you have to find resources out there that can help you push this forward. Books are fine, you can look at things on networking and there are different things out there that can be useful, but I found there’s a lot of challenges out there because there’s not a lot of people out there really teaching these skillsets that really know what they’re doing.
Heidi Alexander: I would think also that it would be important to have mentors. I could see someone who’s very good at networking, following them around and learning from their own experiences. Is that something that you talk to your clients about?
Jason Treu: You definitely should. You always want to have people that are couple of steps ahead of you in your life in whatever area you’re trying to get better in, and I think that’s what one where it’s helpful to have someone who has built up quite a rolodex and who does go out and is very social because you can see the types of things that someone else is doing. And again, I think there’s a lot that has to come with yourself. I think the pillars of being authentic, vulnerable, speaking your truth and being generous, or something that if you’re not aligned internally and that it’s very difficult to build relationships externally with other people. Because most of communication is nonverbal. Anywhere of 90 to 93% is the research stage. So what you’re not saying is as important as what you are saying. It’s very important to start to realize that things like actually listening and not thinking about what you’re doing tomorrow is really a critical skillset in order to build likeability with someone else. Because you’re thinking about what you have to do 10 minutes from now or talking to a person across the room or what you have to do tomorrow, you’re signaling to that person that they don’t matter and that they’re not important and they can feel that and sense that and it’s immediately going to turn them off from interacting with you. So there’s a lot of nuances in these skillsets that you have to start asking. And another one is really just building rapport with people. That’s a thing people don’t do well because they think, let me just talk about where are you from, what job do you do and all these typical interview questions, which people have heard thousands of times and they have not had great experiences so they immediately turn you off. One of the questions I ask people early on – maybe the first, second or third question – is what are you passionate about in life, what products are you working on that you’re passionate about. Because you’ve got to tap into someone’s emotions and what they care about, because that’s really what matters. That’s what drives us as human beings, we’re emotionally driven. That’s before we even cognitively think, we’re emotionally driven. So you have to start tapping into that and when you can understand what that is you can then offer some help. You can ask the next question, “Are you having any challenges around that?” And then you can offer help. Maybe a book, a resource, a contact, or just following up with them and trying to give them one of the three. And if you can’t, I’ve done it before where I said I just don’t have anyone for you but I’ll keep you on the radar and I’ll let you know, people really appreciate that.
Heidi Alexander: I think we’ve all been in that situation where you can tell someone’s not listening to you and and they’re focused on something else and that’s always a very awkward situation. So we’re actually going to take a quick break now to hear from our sponsor. But if you stay tuned, after the break and we’re going to talk more about specific strategies for building trust and rapport in the business context.
Heidi Alexander: Amicus Attorney’s world leading practice management solution allows you to do more, bill more, and go home early. It serves as the hub to your practice and Amicus customers report that they save over eight hours and bill an extra five hours each week. Built by lawyers for lawyers, Amicus has two award winning solutions: Amicus Premium with a unique client portal, and the exciting Amicus Cloud with seamless email integration. To learn more, visit AmicusAttorney.com
Heidi Alexander: Welcome back to the second half of our show with Jason Troy, business and executive coach. While I think most attorneys understand the value of networking, many of us get a pit in our stomachs just thinking about it. So how do we overcome this feeling and how do we actually make it worth our time?
Jason Treu: In life, when you step into uncertainty, that’s when you grow. And most people who aren’t good at something, they get nervous or fearful around it because you go back to your comfort zone, which you’re much better at doing. But you have to step into uncertainty in life and you realize that when you actually step into that direction, your life immediately gets significantly better. But you have that fear because it’s the fear of the unknown because you know you’re not good at something. The only way to get better at it is to keep trying. One of the things that you can do when you’re going out to group settings – which I talked about before – if you really have a lot of anxiety, you can go to offer to work at the check-in table, or all of these events that are people checking people in. If you get there and ask to do one of the first shifts, what you can do is familiarize yourself with the room, you can meet some of the people in the organization, and every person that’s walking in, you can meet them. So that way later on, you’re meeting all these people for the second time and you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable and it’s going to be a lot more easier to start the conversation. So that’s one thing. Second of all, if you’re going to these types of groups, the great thing is people’s defenses are down. They’re going there to meet other people, otherwise they wouldn’t show up. In other scenarios when you meet people, you’re not really sure why they’re there. When you go there, it is. The other thing is people love talking about one thing in particular, that’s themselves. So asking questions is really a way for you to drive a conversation, learn more about them, build rapport, and also make it easier on yourself because you don’t have to have some perfect thing to say because you’re asking and engaging with someone else.
Heidi Alexander: So when you’re actually at the event, sometimes it can be difficult. You walk in the room and let’s say you haven’t sat at that volunteer table and you walk in the room and everyone is in their groups. Everyone’s talking to everyone else and it feels very overwhelming. Do you have any strategies, any techniques on how do you break the ice or how do you get in that circle to talk to someone?
Jason Treu: I think the easiest thing you can do is every place you go to is going to have a bar or some place to get a drink at, and that’s always the best place to start because everyone’s in line and you just have to get in line and start talking people. I ask them questions like, “How’s it going? What brought you to this organization? Are you a member?” And then the conversation can just go from there right and you can just keep asking them questions. Another thing you can do is extremely powerful, and it’s probably the most powerful social thing you can do by far is introducing people to other people. You don’t even have to know the other person or either person to do this and I’ve done this hundreds of thousands of times and met people. And it’s either gone okay or well. I’ve never had anything bad happen, and how you do this is really easy. Let’s say there’s someone on your right. You just say, “Hey, how’s it going? How’s your day?” And they’ll say whatever and you could say, “What’s on your agenda for this week? What brought you to this organization?” And it doesn’t even matter what they say and I’m not even asking them their name. There’s someone on your left most likely because there’s probably going to be a few people at the bar wherever you’re at. You can just go over to the other person and say, “How’s it going?” And they’ll say whatever and then say, “Hey, you two should meet each other.” And they will be standing there and literally I just cross my fingers across my body and direct them with my index finger and a conversation just starts up. Now sometimes, the conversations gone 15 seconds, sometimes they start having a bigger conversation and you just direct it. Ask a few questions, it’s pretty simple, you keep it light. And I’ve often dragged in other people behind me or around me into the conversation as well and that’s also been really successful to move it forward and have engagement with other people. In that scenario, the great thing about it is you are the hub, because you’re the one bringing it together. So they will always remember you as the person bringing them together. And the other great byproduct is when you’re walking around the room and you stop to say hi to them, they’ll actively introduce you to other people because the law of reciprocity comes into effect and people typically will start to reciprocate to you what you’ve given to them.
Heidi Alexander: So you’re at an event and you’re meeting people. Follow up question is how many people should you aim to meet at an event? Let’s say there’s about 300 people in a room and of course you can’t meet everyone and you can’t have substantive conversations with every person. So how many people would you suggest that it’s worthwhile to meet?
Jason Treu: I would say every hour, you should try to meet – and this is a pretty broad number because it depends on where your social skillset is at – but really anywhere from 5 to 20 people. The more that you can operate and participate in group discussions, the better you’re off because you don’t need to have that much time with an individual to start building some rapport. You can do it easily in under five minutes. The key thing is to get some information about them, what they’re passionate about, what their challenges are, and then just exchange contact information and follow up. That’s my rule of thumb is operating at that level and I think that way you can meet a broad level of people. And even if every person you can’t ask to exchange their information, the great thing about groups is that if you keep going back, many people will be there in success of events. So you’ll continue to be able to follow up with them or you’ll see them at other events. Because typically, a lot of the people that will go to one event will go to other ones. So they’re really good places to start to build longer term relationships with people, even if you can’t exchange contact information.
Heidi Alexander: Let’s move on to the next phase of cultivating a relationship, and that’s that’s following up. So how do you do that to really optimize the relationship? And I’m thinking for attorneys. In particular, you’re meeting folks that are going to be a referral for you, so you’re building these referral relationships. How do you do that?
Jason Treu: Well, the great thing is if you’ve asked them what their challenges are, you can follow up with that and give them any other information you have at that point, which is really good. I think as well, one of the things that you can ask people is if you’ve offered to help them, in the email, ask for help that you need. And two things you can ask for, one, is a specific help you need, and also ask them a question. Who do you know who I should speak to? Because every person has a network behind them, which I call an indirect network. So they have a lot of value they can give to you no matter who the person is. So it’s always great to ask that question, because you never know who they know. And the other thing you do is you can invite them out to other events you’re going to. You can say, “Hey, there’s this great event you should check out here.” The other thing you can do is invite that person out to a lunch that you organize at a place and you bring 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 people along and you organize it. And the great thing about it is you can just go to a place that’s pre essentially located, make a reservation and that’s it. It’s not like you have to pay for the lunch or do anything else, you can just invite people out, because people always want to meet new people. I’ve never run across any person who’s said, “You know what? I know enough people, I don’t want to meet anyone else.” They may say to me, “All I want is a core group of a few friends,” but they never say, “I won’t meet another person.” Because everyone knows that relationship could lead to something else. So that’s a really strategic way and that’s adding a lot of value to other people because again, you don’t know. Two people might hit it off, they might form a great friendship, they might be travel partners, they could be business partners. That’s a really powerful place to be, and it solidifies you as a leader, as a hub, and as someone who they want to do business with because obviously you know people, you’re willing to connect, and you’re willing to give. That’s one of the core things in life is that when you don’t have score cards with people, they like you and want to be around you more because the only people in their life that don’t have scorecards are people in their inner circle like their best friends, their family or partner or spouse. So when you psychologically give first, you put yourself into that place and that’s a very powerful place to be.
Heidi Alexander: Another big part of networking effectively and cultivating relationships is knowing and feeling confident about your purpose, so talk to us about your purpose and how that fits into all of this.
Jason Treu: I think one of the things in life that I found out is you have to have a purpose, and if you don’t have one, you will have a default purpose which will be more like a mission statement like, “My job is to help my clients do x, Y and Z,” or my purpose may be to accumulate money or wealth or significance. You’ve got to realize that anything in the external world, people, significance, a job, will eventually let you down. And that’s where people often crater in their life, and they have midlife crisis or they don’t know what to do next. The key is really finding your purpose, an internal purpose, because you can always claim that and that’s what makes you get motivated, makes you jump out of bed every day excited about what you’re doing. And one of the things about your purpose too is if you tie your purpose into your top emotions, that’s also really powerful. Because again, like I said before, we’re emotionally driven. So when you know what those emotions are – and you can figure those out by tapping into the happiest moments in your life. Because what I found from doing this hundreds of times with clients is the form and structure of each happy moment is in many ways similar. The events may be different but the emotions that come out of that are not. And when you can tap in and figure out what is consistent over time, you really know what’s really driving you. And when you know what’s driving you, you’ll get more excited and motivated and happy because we’ve all been at a point where we’ve woken up one day or we’ve had a great day and we feel pumped and we feel excited. You’re tapping into those emotions. You may not know what those are, but that’s actually what’s happening. So when you can tap into them on a daily basis, you can recreate the happiest moments in your life every single day, which is something pretty extraordinary and that really creates a higher quality of life. And again, that creates a much better business because what we put out is what we attract. If we put out that we’re happy, if we put out that we’re successful, if we put out those things and that’s how it really is, people are attracted to that because they want that because it’s something they don’t have.
Heidi Alexander: We talked about a number of different skills and ideas and strategies and searching for your purpose. Of course, a lot of this can be difficult to implement and of course for attorneys, it’s a matter of time of course. So do you have any advice for attorneys in terms of if you get stuck, you get in a rut and you just can’t get out, nothing’s really working for you, what do you do?
Jason Treu: The best place to go is you have to find mentors and coaches. That’s really the key because you need to have someone who’s done what you want to do. Success leaves clues in life and you’ve got to figure out what those clues are. The thing is you go to the people who are already great at it because they will give you the fast track to get better. This is an area of your life that if you decide to not invest in it, it will come back to haunt you and it will create significant problems in your life – both personally and professionally, because I’ve seen it happen so many times I can’t even count it. That’s why I get clients because people are having challenges in this life in these areas whether they know it or whether they don’t. I think the key is is finding those people. The other thing is finding support. I always think it’s really important to find people that are doing what you’re doing. So finding other lawyers or groups because having empathy is really a critical element to have and having people that you can talk to that know what you’re going through but you don’t have to spell it out. So I think that’s another part of the process here that’s really important as well.
Heidi Alexander: There’ so many Bar associations around that act just like you’ve described, as a support mechanism; I think that’s a great point. But unfortunately, I’m sad to report that we’ve reached the end of another episode of the Legal Toolkit. So I’d like to thank my guest, Jason Treu, for taking the time to drop by our virtual studio. Jason, if our listeners would like to learn more about you and your ventures, how would they go about doing so?
Jason Treu: They can go to my website at BeExtraordinary.tv and you can find free guides on networking, on branding, how to contact busy people and so many other things on there as well as blogs, videos, and you can contact me on many different social media channels as well.
Heidi Alexander: Great. Thanks again, Jason, and thank you for our listeners for joining me for another episode of the Legal Toolkit. Remember that you can check out all of our shows any time you like at LegalTalkNetwork.com.
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