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Building a Reputation Through Volunteering

building-a-reputation

“Oh! I know Ginger!” My team often hears that phrase while talking with people at events around Tampa Bay. When the topic of work comes up and they mention Pinstripe Marketing, they frequently get that response. Years ago, after hearing dozens of those exclamations, our former creative director joked, “Geez, we should have buttons!” A project manager agreed and they decided to arm themselves with a response of their own at the next event. It caught on. Although silly, people would actually wear the buttons, causing others to say “I know Ginger; where’s my button?” or “Who is Ginger? I want a button.”

building reputation through volunteering

I am what many would consider “a habitual joiner.” Perhaps suffering from a severe case of FOMO, I wanted to be involved in everything – professional associations, business organizations, non-profit boards – wherever I could surround myself with people (typical ENFP) and give back to my industry and community. By being involved and serving on boards, I had the opportunity to illustrate my work ethic, organization, communication and marketing skills, and (hopefully) that I was friendly and easy to work with.

Through the relationships I’ve built volunteering, I have met some of my very best friends, business colleagues, and, most importantly for my business, clients. In fact, I can directly trace a significant portion of the agency’s annual revenue to connections made from my volunteer work.

Just recently, we landed a new client in a fast-growing segment of the GPS technology industry. When I asked the vice president of operations how they initially heard about us, he said, “I sent a query out to my circle of trusted associates and your name came back twice.” Similarly, when meeting with a local law firm that week, I asked the same question. The marketing director said, “I asked a group of legal administrators and you were recommended seven times!”

While most professional services firms attribute more than 70% of their business to referrals, I know our involvement in the community is responsible for even more. How do I know? Because we have rarely proactively pursued a client.

However, now is the time to leverage that reputation and implement a business development campaign to strategically target new clients. We’re looking forward to growing the business and building relationships with new clients who will ultimately make new referrals.

I understand that we’re all busy, and over the last several years, I have become more selective about where I spend my time. It’s important to identify what organizations will provide what you’re seeking – more knowledge, more connections, or more passion for a cause. Getting involved and serving in trade associations or volunteer organizations is an excellent way to build a network, particularly for introverts who may cringe at the thought of attending a big networking event or non-profit fundraiser. The idea of “working a room” is unappealing to most, but getting to know a small group of like-minded individuals working toward a common mission creates bonds that last.

I wrote this article because we have been planning for 2017 and analyzing many aspects of our business. This year especially, my involvement in the community has really paid off. So whether you are making resolutions or just looking to approach business development from a different perspective, hopefully this is a good reminder. We always recommend to our clients to stay heavily involved in trade associations and the community – for many reasons. Best of luck capturing more of an audience for your business in the new year!

Oh, and let me know if you want a button. 🙂

 

Below are some resources for getting involved and building your own reputation.

Find a Trade Association

Networking for Introverts

Fundamentals of Serving on a Board

 

Relationship Building for Business and More

relationship building for business
Relationship building is a fundamental facet of life – we meet people, we connect with them, we become friends with them. Building relationships happens over time, and as time goes by, acquaintances become friends through common interests and shared experiences. Perhaps we’ve known a person long enough to have watched their children grow or were present during tough life events. The longer you know someone, the more you share. These shared experiences form bonds and serve as the foundation of a more profound friendship, but this type of relationship affects our professional lives as well.

Friendships and business relationships overlap fairly often. One of the things we have learned over time is that business relationships often evolve into friendships, and vice versa. Someone who has been a friend for years may one day open a door that you never knew was there.

Case in Point

This is a story about a small network of three people who were connected in different ways, with names changed for anonymity.

September was on the hunt for a job, and her first search terms pulled up a website for a company that she had never heard of, despite the fact that it was right down the street from her old photography studio. She looked over the website and thought the company looked interesting, so she prepped her cover letter and resume and thought she would give it a shot. Sending an unsolicited resume is often fruitless, but September knew that sending hundreds of resumes out would be more likely to yield a collection of viable results. She sent her resume to every single email address she could find.

Diana received September’s email and read over the cover letter with curiosity. She was intrigued, so she decided to do “the search.” First, she went to LinkedIn and discovered that she and September shared a number of connections, although she had never heard the name before. One friend in particular was William, who was a good friend of Diana and whom she had met years ago through a leadership program. She immediately called William to get the scoop on this mysterious September. William, always one to chat, was instantly excited. He told Diana that she had to hire September, sang her praises almost endlessly, and almost kicked himself for not having made the introduction himself, much earlier.

On the other end of things, September continued her search and had sent her resume to a few more places, not expecting immediate results, but diligently focused on acquiring at least one or two responses within a week. To her surprise, she was to receive a response within minutes of sending out that first resume, certainly a personal record. The phone rang and it was William. It had been quite some time since September had seen or even spoken to William, but he was one of those timeless friends who you pick up with wherever you left off. She was happy to hear from him. William instantly began talking about Diana, the owner of the very company September had just sent her resume to. He was ecstatic for the connection, and told September that he thought it was the perfect fit. He told her that he had just gotten off the phone with Diana, and had a really good conversation.

September emailed Diana when she hung up with William. They set up a time to meet, and their first meeting was such a success that September knew almost instantly that this was where she would end up. William was right. He had seen something in these two women that he knew would bring them together. September accepted Diana’s job offer, and the rest is history. The three of them still have lunch on a regular basis, and September and Diana both are grateful to William for bringing them together.

As you can see from the story, there was one small hole in this network – the connection between September and Diana had not yet been made. Now this web is complete, and they have connected other parts of their web as well, through friendships, business partnerships, and acquaintances. It is quite interesting to think about the vast network of people that we have in our lives, especially for those who are involved in many community activities. Your network could extend much farther than you even realize. Sometimes it takes only one person to bridge the gap, as in this case. Once September and Diana’s gap had been bridged, they realized how many other friends they had in common.

Have you had a similar experience? We would love to hear your stories about networking surprises.

Join us for a legal marketing presentation and social

Tampa Bay legal marketing
The Legal Marketing Association Tampa Bay City Group Presents: Get in the Game: The Gamification of Business Development with Jill Huse & Heather McCullough of Society 54 followed by Happy Hour Sponsored by Pinstripe Marketing

We’ve all heard that many of the skills needed to develop business are counter to how attorneys are wired. But we do know that attorneys are competitive by nature so that begs the question, can the skills and habits needed to develop business be taught and instilled through playing a game? Businesses of all sizes have been using gamification, defined as “game design elements in non-game contexts,” for many years with great results. Gamification of business development is simply another internal tool that can be used to help build engagement in the process and confidence in an individuals’ ability to build a base of clients.

An effective internal “game” includes:

  • outlining what outcomes the firm hopes to achieve
  • identifying which behaviors will be changed
  • defining how progress will be measured
  • clearly describing success in the program and how it will be rewarded

This hands-on, interactive session incorporates case studies, training and roundtable brainstorming on how to create and implement a successful business development game within a firm. It is not a one-size fits all approach so the practical ideas and tips that are presented will allow attendees the opportunity to create a program that will drive real results within their own firm.

SPEAKERS

Jill Huse Jill Huse, Partner, Society 54

Society 54 Co-Founder Jill Huse is renowned as a trusted professional services advisor. Jill, a certified business coach, is highly regarded for her progressive ingenuity, research-based strategy and, most importantly, her ability to deliver results for clients.

Jill has worked in legal marketing for more than fifteen years, after starting her career in accounting marketing. Clients have said that Jill has an innate ability to identify, encourage and develop their unique and differentiating professional strengths, and to help them to leverage these strengths to meet and exceed bottom line goals.

As the director of marketing and business development at one of the most reputable AmLaw firms in the southeast, Jill structured and led her team in developing, implementing and managing award-winning communication, business development and marketing initiatives. Further, Jill is a tenured member and past president of the Southeastern Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), which, as the second largest LMA chapter, serves more than 450 members across nine states.

Heather McCulloughHeather McCullough, Partner, Society 54

Society 54 Co-Founder Heather McCullough is two parts wit and one part tenacity, with heaping doses of creativity and intellect on the side.

Heather represents the power of hard work, strategy and collaboration. For more than 14 years, she has brought game-changing results to professional services firms across the Southeast. As the director of business and practice development at one of the most well-respected law firms in the Carolinas, Heather oversaw all aspects of firm branding and business development, including communications, client relations, events and business development – – all while keeping a keen eye on budgets and ROI.

 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

4pm – 6pm

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

401 E. Jackson St.

Tampa, FL 33602

Map

REGISTER NOW

Plan to stay after the presentation to join your fellow LMA members along with Jill and Heather for a Happy Hour sponsored by Pinstripe Marketing.

pinstripe-marketing

 

Special thanks to Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney for hosting our May program.

buchananFounded in 1850, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is a full-service law firm with approximately 500 lawyers and government relations professionals who serve the legal and business needs of regional, national and international clients. Our offices are located in 18 cities in Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and California.

Maintaining Connections – Keep Up to Date with Your Network

Tampa Bay social media agency
We were pretty wowed by a speaker at a recent Association of Legal Administrators Business Partner Showcase and felt compelled to share some of his insights. Not only was Ari Kaplan an engaging speaker, what he had to say was so valuable that we remained fairly riveted throughout his presentation. Whether or not it was the content of the presentation that made it riveting, his dynamic personality, or a combination of both, we left feeling as if we had just been given a gem of information.

The gem of information was simple, really – keep in touch, and keep it interesting. There are many ways of doing this. He reminded us that “half the battle is just showing up,” in fact, he practically screamed it. This woke up those in the audience who were dozing off, and the rest of us, well, we were nodding our heads, thinking, “it really is that simple.” After all, we had made that small effort to show up at this event, and already we were patting ourselves on the back for it.

Keep in Touch

We all lead busy lives for a multitude of reasons – work, family, hobbies, vacations, etc. Sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives, we forget to keep in touch with people. At the heart of this is friendship, but keeping in touch with business contacts can be equally as fulfilling, and often much more lucrative. Kaplan recommends making it a point to reach out to a business contact at least once a day in some form or another, and he gives some great advice on how to do so.

  • If you’re traveling to another city, contact a current business acquaintance, or even reach out to a complete stranger whose work you admire, alumni from your school, or a recommendation from a colleague. Introduce yourself. Ask them out to coffee. You won’t die if they say no, and if they say yes, you have just opened a new door for yourself. Even if they say no, you have put yourself on their radar. This is part of the “half the battle is just showing up.” By reaching out, you showed up.
  • Use Connections on LinkedIn – an integrated tool that alerts you to what is happening in the work and lives of your connections. Even better – it gives you a button to click on that will auto-populate a message to that person congratulating them on a promotion or saying Happy Birthday. Customize these messages, of course, but half the work has already been done for you! You may have also noticed updates in your feed about contacts being mentioned in the news. Use that as an opportunity to connect. Read the article for great insight into their accomplishments, knowledge, and news.
social media marketing connections

Keep in touch with LinkedIn Connections.

  • Send postcards – this also falls under “keep it interesting.” Kaplan suggests sending a cool or fun postcard from the place you are visiting. Send to someone with whom you haven’t communicated in a while, just to say hello. Send to a current prospect to let them know you’re thinking of them. People like to receive postcards, and your gesture brings you back to the forefront of their mind.

Keep it Interesting

Kaplan asked us, “what makes you interesting?” We turned to our neighbors and told them what makes us interesting. For some it was hobbies and interests, for others it was an ability or talent. Whatever it was, Kaplan asked us to use it to our advantage. To be interesting is to be remembered. This goes for what makes you as a person interesting as well as interesting actions you take to get noticed. Sending a postcard is one of those things, but can you think of others? What about sending out cool marketing materials that really highlight your business – an auto-playing video card or a deck of cards with your images? Think about what you would like to receive – something useful and interesting – and use that to get attention and be remembered.

Since the event, we have been busy setting lunch dates and coming up with cool ideas for our clients. We reach out to new acquaintances more often and we attend events more often. If nothing more, we are making some great new friends, but we already know that friends make the best clients.

Ari Kaplan is a leading legal industry analyst, writer and speaker. To learn more about Ari, visit his website at www.arikaplanadvisors.com.