Studies show that a prospective client must be exposed to you 7-9 times before they’re ready to hire you. (Those statistics are not specific to law, granted, but I have no reason to believe they’re off the mark for lawyers.) The reasons are simple: most potential clients don’t have a current legal need, are already represented, or aren’t sufficiently familiar with you to entrust you with their current legal matter.
The solution should be clear: continue the conversations with your potential clients and potential referral sources. That’s how you will become known, liked, and trusted — and it’s how you’ll get clients.
Take on a challenge this week: Look at the stack of business cards you’ve been saving (you have the stack, right? Tucked “somewhere safe,” in a desk drawer, or near your computer?) and select 3-5 people with whom you should follow up. Then, get in touch with them. Offer something of value if possible — an article likely to interest them, for example. Alternatively, just pick up the phone (or perhaps drop an email) and let your contact know you were thinking of her and want to know how she’s been since you last talked.
Some contacts will be dead-ends. Others will hold promise for future business. But you’ll never find out which are which unless you continue the conversation.
Are you rebelling against this challenge on the basis that it’s been “too long” since you met and exchanged cards? You may need to add a step, such as connecting on LinkedIn and reintroducing yourself. Or you could just say you’ve been holding onto your contact’s card for xx months, waiting for the right time to reconnect, and there’s no time like the present. The response rate you get may be lower if a long period of time has passed, but you never know when reconnecting will open a fruitful conversation.