The Art of the Follow-Up – A System for Attorneys

Follow Up and Connecting HandshakeEvery business development plan must include meeting new contacts. You need to meet the right people to send you business (directly or via referral), but meeting them isn’t enough: you must follow up with them over time and build relationships.

No surprise, right? The question is how to follow up over time. Here’s your step-by-step follow-up system, starting immediately after you meet someone new.

1. Categorize your new contact. Prioritize all of your contacts based on the likelihood that they will lead to new business or to some significantly beneficial opportunity (a speaking opportunity, for example) in the near future. When you meet someone new, decide whether they belong on the high, medium, or low priority list, which dictates how often you’ll aim to be in touch.

2. Enter details about your new connection into your management system. Track the basics (contact information, where and when you met, who introduced you), and include details about the meeting. What did you discuss? What interests did she mention, business or personal? How do you think you might be able to help him, and to whom should you introduce him? This information will be the grist for future contacts as you build a relationship.

3. Send a “nice to meet you” note or email within 48 hours. Make this easy on yourself: create a system. Design a template that you can use for the note and plug in details that will remind your new contact of where you met and what you discussed. For maximum effect, make it an unbreakable habit to send a note no later than the morning after you meet someone new.

4. Send a personalized request to connect on LinkedIn. The key word here is personalized. It only takes a few seconds to add a comment such as, “I enjoyed talking with you at the INTA meeting Thursday and look forward to keeping in touch.” Yes, LinkedIn has a generic request to connect that’s even faster to send. Don’t be lazy.

5. Keep in touch. Schedule when you’ll reach out next based on your connection’s priority level. The higher priority, the more frequent your contacts should be. If you’ve tracked information about your contact, you’ll find it simple to choose an appropriate way to keep in touch. Options for future contacts include sharing articles or resources that will be of interest personally or in business; offering a recommendation (perhaps to a new restaurants or book); following up on a recommendation your contact made to you; making an introduction; sending a birthday or holiday card; or issuing an invitation to lunch or an event. Your actions should be thoughtful, helpful, and friendly.

When you create a follow-up habit and know what your options are to stay in touch, you’ll find it easy to build relationships. Get started today, develop your habit, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly you’ll start to see results.




Image courtesy of adamr /

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Julie Fleming

About Julie Fleming

Julie A. Fleming, principal of Lex Innova Consulting, teaches lawyers to use innovative and effective measures to build a strong book of business and a lucrative practice. A former patent litigator, she is the author of The Reluctant Rainmaker: A Guide for Lawyers Who Hate Selling, Seven Foundations of Time Mastery for Attorneys, and the forthcoming Legal Rainmaking Myths: What You Think You Know About Business Development Can Kill Your Practice, as well as numerous articles focusing on topics such as business development, practice management, work/life balance, and leadership development. Before launching her consulting business in 2005, Julie practiced law for over a decade in firms of 3 to more than 2100 attorneys, specializing in patent litigation.

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2 Responses to “The Art of the Follow-Up – A System for Attorneys”

  1. David Boag Says:

    I’d be interested to hear what people are using to manage their contacts and follow-ups beyond native applications like Reminders and Contacts, both of which have worked for me (with a little help from CoBook for the Mac).


  2. Julie Fleming
    Julie Fleming Says:

    Thanks for your question, David. There are bunches of good contact relationship management (CRM) systems available, but one that I and many of my clients like is Less annoying CRM. It’s easy to use, powerful, and inexpensive. I also like it because it’s web-based and thus accessible everywhere. (As with any cloud-based system, be sure to investigate before adding any confidential info.)

    If you’re looking for something that is more than pure CRM, you might investigate SalesBoom, Clio, Rocket Matter, Time Matters, Amicus Attorney, and PracticeMaster.

    Anyone else willing to chime in?



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