We asked a group of business leaders in professional services one important question:

“What do you do to build valuable relationships with your key clients and prospects?”

As a leading law firm, this question strikes to the core of business development for Irwin Mitchell where the quality of client relationships is paramount. Building long-term relationships with multiple instructions is a focus for the team. 

We wanted to explore what successful leaders were doing in this space where professionals need to build 1-2-1 relationships and provide more value for their clients.

Below is the excellent answer from Nicola Gooch of Irwin Mitchell. 

What legal experts can do to build valuable relationships with clients.

As a lawyer, your relationship with your clients tends to be direct and one to one, as you are providing the advice they need.

The first thing you do to build your relationship is to do your job well, communicate clearly in language they understand and focus on what’s relevant for them and their business.

In the wider scheme of things, there is the opportunity for adding value, thinking about what your client needs and what it would bring to the relationship. Networking sessions, introductions, or providing professional training to in-house teams can all deepen a relationship if the client you are working with finds them of value.

As someone who’s gone through the 8 years of legal training and a fair few years in practice, I (and other lawyers in my position) have accumulated a large amount of knowledge. If that knowledge stays in my head - it's no good to anybody. It’s only useful if you are demonstrating that knowledge to your clients, and using it to help them find solutions to the issues that they are facing.

Demystifying and explaining the planning system in an engaging way for my clients and contacts, as well as people, in general, is how I do about 60% of my business development. This is largely through Passle and LinkedIn, although not exclusively.

After getting the first six months to a year out of the way, my LinkedIn network grew among people I want to talk to, I’m getting invitations to speak and for webinars. Some of my posts have been picked up and published.

I’ve also won clients directly from the blog. I’ve had people who weren’t clients make contact because they were following the blog. When they weren’t able to contact their usual solicitor, I was front of mind and they’ve picked up the phone.

When I first started as a solicitor, business development was often focused on parties, dinners or drinks events. These types of events have their place, but they cost quite a lot of money and its difficult to track the return on investment. As anti-bribery legislation has tightened up, there’s been a move away from focusing on that kind of corporate hospitality, which means that being able to demonstrate expertise in your practice area has become more important.

Demonstrating that you know what you are talking about is becoming key to how we reach out, and it works.