In this episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we sit down with special guest, Attorney Stephanie Hanna. Stephanie is the founder and CEO of The Other 85, a company that helps attorneys become better networkers and marketers by helping them develop their abilities to connect with others, nurture relationships, and build trust.
“Fifteen percent of your job success comes from the hard technical skills, and the other 85 are soft skills that will really make or break your career,” says Stephanie.
We’ll chat with Stephanie about how to develop your on- and off-line networking skills, how to translate personal and intimate conversations into business networking, as well as…
- How to determine what value you add
- How to initiate relationships by removing overwhelm and adding authenticity
- Why breaking promises to yourself breaks your self-confidence and hinders your networking abilities
- How to talk about what you do by telling people what you can do
- Narrowing down your strongest skills
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Fredrick, and I’m here today with attorney Stephanie Hanna, founder and CEO of The Other 85.
The Other 85 helps attorneys become better networkers and marketers by helping them develop their abilities to connect with others, nurture relationships, build trust and just be a joy to work with. Welcome, Stephanie. We’re so pleased to have you here today on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.
Stephanie Hanna: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Davina: Great. So why don’t you just start out by telling us a little bit about your background and how, you know, what you were doing before you started doing this work? You’ve been doing this work now for about a decade, I think you said. So tell us a little bit about your background.
Stephanie’s Entrepreneurial Background
Stephanie: Yeah, so I graduated law school in 2008 when the market was great, right? It was rough to find a job. And I quickly learned that all of my cold resume applying was not doing the trick. But what was working was relationships and people that I knew and people who knew me. And so that kind of was in the back of my brain and with me as I navigated my career. So I started out as a prosecutor and a staff attorney and a magistrate.
Spent a lot of time in the court. Really enjoyed that. Practicing in a law firm. And the ties through all of it was relationships. I was getting work from relationships, I was getting board opportunities from relationships. I was, you know, serving on the board of governors, the board of the YWCA, all sorts of things. And everyone around me tended to be much older. And lots of my peers were asking, you know, how are you doing it?
And through lots and lots of coffees and conversations, I was giving the same advice over and over again. Like, hey, it’s who you know. It’s relationships. It’s how people feel when they interact with you. It’s the type of value that you’re adding to the relationship. And after I had my second baby in 2018, I thought that there was something there. I was having more and more of these conversations and doing more of that than the actual legal work.
And so I made the full transition. And so I, you know, jokingly say like, I’ve been doing this for over a decade because I have been coaching people informally this whole time, but really, about two years ago, just decided to turn it into a business. And it’s called The Other 85 because the belief is that 15% of your job success comes from the hard technical skills. And the other 85 is what will really make or break your career. And the other 85 is relationships, networking, who you know, who knows you, the value that you’re adding. Is it easy for people to work with you?
Your personal brand. You know, what do they think when they hear your name? Those sorts of things. So that’s what I do full-time now. I do practice a little, still focusing on domestic relations. But the majority of what I do is work with attorneys one on one, small group, and really help them with the business development, the marketing, the personal branding, so that they can feel comfortable building and maintaining relationships, being active in their community, and then ultimately bringing in additional clients and having a bigger impact in their industry.
Davina: Right. That’s fantastic. So tell me, did you always, I mean, is it kind of intrinsic thing that you’re this, a good networker? Did you learn this along the way someplace? Did you grow up with, you know, parents who were really good networkers? Is it inherited or is it social? How did you develop your networking? How did you learn that this was an important skill to have?
Stephanie: Yeah, I mean, a little bit, it was necessity. I moved to Columbus, Ohio, which is where I still live. But I didn’t go to law school here. I didn’t grow up here. And I didn’t know anybody here. And so I initially moved here for a job. And three or four months into the job, it was a public sector job, they were laying off the last handful of people that they hired. So I was, you know, a necessity at work. I mean, I know some people, I need some people to know me. So initially, it was I need them to help me get a job.
But I learned quickly that it was I don’t just need the job. Like, I want your camaraderie and I want your guidance and your insight so that in a year from now, two years from now, 10 years from now, when I have a problem or a question or have some gap that I think you can fill, I want to be able to call on you. And so when I first started, I was looking through legal publications and I was writing handwritten notes every morning when I got to work, or when I wasn’t working. When I was just at home. And I was just reaching out to people. I didn’t want coffee, I didn’t want lunch, I didn’t want anything.
A lot of them weren’t even local. I was just introducing myself, letting them know that I thought the work that they did was interesting, or the article that they wrote was, you know, relevant, and just introducing myself. And that was it. And that started to lay the foundation. Then I would connect with these people on LinkedIn. And then I would, you know, cross paths at some other point and always kind of investing in the relationship. And so it was, it started as necessity and then quickly, I learned that I was reaping a whole lot of benefits from It.
Davina: So do you find when you were, when you’re having these conversations with your peers that other attorneys and young attorneys, maybe attorneys who have been practicing for a while would always felt they like hated networking because we think networking is making small talk. You know, as I’ve been coaching clients through the years, it’s something that I’ve come up against many, many times where a lot of attorneys say, you know, I just, I’m introverted. I don’t love networking because I don’t like to make small talk.
And they envision, when they hear the word networking, they envision going to some sort of really uncomfortable rubber chicken dinner, you know, event with a bunch of strangers and they’re going to have to make this horrible small talk, whatever that means, right? What, did you find a lot of, what were you hearing from attorneys that made you inspired you to do this, felt that there was a need?
Stephanie: Yeah, it was a lot of those same conversations. And then also people who had kept their head down and they were working and they were billing the hours and doing what they should. And four or five years later, their law firm comes to them and says, Okay, great, you’re doing great. And then all of a sudden, they look up and they’re like, well, what business? I don’t even know anybody. I don’t even know that anybody knows me or knows what I do. I’ve just been doing the work.
And it was that kind of realization. And also from the law firm side. Friends of mine who were, you know, managing partners at law firms or, you know, in leadership roles, as the firms were saying, we’re hiring these really smart people, they’re doing great work, but we can’t send them out. You know, they don’t know what to do or what to say or, you know, they don’t have relationships. And they don’t necessarily see the value in it when they’re in those early grinding stages when they’re just focused on doing the work. So a lot of what I do is really try and take the stigma out of networking.
And even, you know, use a different term. Like, I’ll say relationship building. Sometimes that helps people kind of get out of that icky mentality that we tend to have and really let them know that every interaction that you have with somebody, you’re networking, right? Whether it’s the person at Starbucks, or the person at your gym, or opposing counsel, or your client, you are building relationships. You know, people are making decisions based on those interactions if they want to have another interaction with you or not.
And so if we can be in control of that and at least have the mindset that I don’t have to go to an awkward dinner or happy hour to be networking, but every interaction that I have is me with the opportunity to build or maintain or invest in a relationship, then it starts to become a little bit more free-flowing. You know, I tell my clients all the time, like don’t go to lunch. Don’t go to the coffee. Don’t go to the dinner. Like, that’s not necessarily the only way to do it. And, you know, now the time of this call, we’re all kind of in this COVID world where we’re not leaving our house.
And I’m gonna watch a couple programs soon here because it’s okay. You don’t have to leave your house to build and maintain relationships. And so this is a great test for, you know, using email and letters and phone calls and finding ways to add value and check in on your contacts and your colleagues and see how everyone is doing. But, you know, big picture, trying to remove that stigma from networking, if we can do that, I think we can help people see how this impacts their life and their practice all the time.
Davina: Right. Now, I can just hear some of the women law firm owners right now saying, gosh, that sounds like a lot of time and effort. And is it really going to pay off? Like, I know that there’s so many people who are very good at relationships. You know, especially, you know, women as a whole, I mean, you know, generally speaking, are good at like, getting very, getting to, intimate with people, other women very quickly and bonding and having those conversations. But does that translate into work? Does that translate into clients and opportunities and all those kinds of things?
The Mindset of the Long Game
Stephanie: Yeah, and you know, I think so it does over, but what we have to change is a couple of mindset tweaks. We have to not think quite so short term, and we have to get better at looking at this as a long game. And then we also have to have the mindset of being a giver and not a taker. And a lot of times, people will build a relationship, do the dinner, invite them to the sporting event, and then no work comes out of it.
See, I told you didn’t work and I wasted all this time, right? I have those conversations all the time, right? So what value did you add? That was one event. Like that, you know, do they know that they can trust you? Have you sent them information relevant to their business? Have you given them some inclination of why you would be a great partner for them? You know, have you added value? Have you given them something for free? You know, have you done all these other things? It’s not just the dinner and the, you know, nice event and that sort of thing.
There’s so much more to it. And about the time piece, a huge component is finding ways to weave this into our already busy days. Because if we put relationship building as a separate item on the to-do list, it won’t get done. And we will just keep moving it to the next day and the next day and the next day. So weaving it in can look like a whole lot of ways, right? But some of the easy ones, like where are the things that we’re already going to and that we’re already present? And can we do things to enhance our relationships and our presence where we’re already at?
A really simple, simple idea, if you work in an organization where you’re having department meetings or practice group meetings and there’s several of you there, are you sitting next to someone different at a meeting? Are you interacting with someone in a different practice area as you? Are you having conversation when you’re walking in the halls of your office, or is your head down, and you’re just trying to get to the next assignment or destination?
Do you serve on a board already and you just show up at the meeting and you go home, right? Are you interacting with other board members? Are you sending them notes? Are you giving them a call just to see how they’re doing? Are you making sure you’re engaging with them and sitting next to someone different every time you go to the board meeting? So just little tweaks like that, that we can do when we’re already doing things in our everyday lives, you’ll start to get the return on that really quick.
Is there some Internally, you know, that is going on a vacation somewhere and you’ve been there, could you send them an email, a two-second email to give them some sort of recommendation or somewhere that you’ve had a great experience? Little things like that, that we can start doing over time becomes a habit. And when we can get to that place, that’s really the sweet spot because we don’t look at it as an additional task. We’re weaving it into things that we’re doing every day. We’re adding value and people are noticing.
Davina: So it’s, well, one of the things I want to say is you were talking about going to events. It’s one of my pet peeves. I used to work as a marketer before I became an attorney actually working in, I worked for a large firm and I worked for an engineering firm before that and for an agency. And so I went to many, many, many philanthropic functions and civic functions and dinners and lunches and all that kind of stuff.
And one of my pet peeves was always when you would, you have all the people from the company go, they’d get a corporate table, and then they’d all sit at the table together and not invite a client or, you know, mix it up and sit with other people or try to have, and I find that is kind of a common, you know, we, a lot of people are, like I said, if you have introverted people or people who don’t know what to say or how to engage strangers beyond just Hi, how are you? Where do you work? And you know. So what kind of tips can you give us on those types of situations just to initiate relationships?
Confidence is Keeping Promises We Made to Ourselves
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah, so a lot of it is finding ways to kind of take the overwhelm out of it. So if you are going to a work function and your firm has a table of 10 and you’re a seat filler, right? You’re someone just asked you to go and so you’re just going. Thinking of instead of, and it’s a room of 200 people, instead of like, I need to make all these connections and get on these business cards and do all these things, just pick one person, right?
Is there one person that I don’t know well there that I can engage with? And it can be as simple as introducing yourself and asking them, you know, and these are, I try to coach clients away from this, but in a pinch, right, asking where someone works, what they do, where they live, like kind of the basics, and then putting a little bit of time into it, whether it’s on the weekend or on your way to the event.
But for a lot of people when this doesn’t come naturally, we’ve got to invest a little bit of time. The same way that practicing law initially, does not come naturally to you. But what do you do? You put in the time and you try and learn the mechanics so that it becomes easier. The same four principles apply with relationship building, right? If it’s not comfortable for me to strike up a conversation, let me look at where am I going? Who was the audience?
What is the industry? What are some hot topics? Like, let me just google something about this industry or about this event. Is it a certain association, putting it on? A certain, you know, group? Is it a nonprofit? Like, just something so I have some basic knowledge that I can bring up. And then part of it too is to just try and find a way, you know, if there’s somebody who’s not talking to someone, walk up to them, have that interaction.
And the more that you kind of do these baby things and find out that it’s not the end of the world and nothing terrible happened, you start to get a teeny bit of confidence. And I like to tell clients that confidence is keeping promises that we make to ourselves. So if we say that we are going to go to this thing and we’re going to meet a person and we’re going to tell them a little bit about what we do, and the fact that we’ve actually followed through and done that, whether we know it or not, our competence is increasing.
What happens all the time is we have the thing on our calendar, we come up with whatever excuse and we don’t go to it. And whether we’re aware of it or not, it is dinging our self-confidence because we broke a promise that we made to ourselves. It sounds kind of deep for a lawyer going to a networking thing, but over time, that’s what it is. We’re continuously either making or breaking promises to ourselves. And
Davina: It’s a huge issue. Yeah.
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. I was just gonna say and we feel the impacts of that and the people around us really impacted that.
Davina: Yeah. I don’t think we realize what an impact it’s having on us and our lives and think of it in those terms that it’s eroding our confidence in ourselves by not following through. You know, it is kind of a chronic problem now where, you know, people will get invited to an event and then the day that they got the invitation, they thought it sounded like a good idea.
And then at the last minute, oh, well, it’s raining outside. I’m not gonna go. Or I’m having a bad hair day. I’m not going to go. I have a, whatever excuse. I just feel like staying home and binge-watching Netflix. I’m not going to go. And we don’t think it matters to the people who are, who put on the event because we think well, there’ll be plenty of other people there.
They won’t miss me. And yet there are so many people doing that now, it’s having a huge impact on me that it’s offensive to the host. They know, whether you realize they know that you’re missing or not, right? And then we don’t think about the impact that actually has on us. So I love this. This is fantastic. Confidence is keeping promises we’ve made to ourselves. I think that’s fantastic. You teach a workshop, How Not to Be Weird. I have to ask you about that. I think that’s fascinating. I love it. Because I know we all think we’re weird, you know?
Stephanie: Yeah. Yes, it is. So it’s funny. I always joke when I first started this business, instead of calling it The Other 85, I wanted to call it How to Not Be Weird. But I also like did not want to offend my audience. We didn’t go that route but it’s a really popular workshop because I think people do have that internal fear that’s holding them back from going to these events and putting themselves out there and trying to generate the business is because like, well, what if they think I’m weird, or I feel like I’m weird.
Like, what do I have to offer? Who wants to talk to me? I’ve only been practicing a couple of years. I’m not an expert in this area. You know, or I’ll say something awkward. And that is a real barrier for getting people to take the first step, whether it’s send the email, go to the event, have the confidence, ask the partner for the big assignment, whatever it is. And so in the workshop, we really just focus on like breaking it down and working on the self-talk and the internal dialog for why do we think these things?
Are they true? Really unpackaging them and helping people in real-time. So what we’ll do in the workshops is, I will have someone introduce themselves to me, and we have the ground rules in the beginning that like, I’m going to tell you some things. And there is no, you know, you’re not allowed to get offended because I’m just sharing information. And what you do with it is what you do with it. But I’m giving you some tips based on my observation. And a lot of times it’s people are talking too fast. They’re not making eye contact, they’re not smiling, their head is in their phone the whole time.
And that’s the type of feedback that I’m giving them. And so when we fix some of those things, it ends up being a lot smoother and they’re not quite as awkward as they seem. And then other times, it’s, you know, people are just nervous. And so we have to just find a way for them to kind of get over the nerves and talk through what’s making them nervous and walk them through how it’s only a big deal in your own head. Like, nobody cares about you and what you’re doing quite as much as you think, maybe they do.
And once we can kind of help people get through that, they really walk away from the workshop just feeling a little bit more confident and a little bit more like what they have to offer is important and the value of what they’re offering. And, you know, a lot of those mental battles are really what tends to hold people back in these areas. And it’s never, you know, they will say I’m too busy. I’m too this, you know, I have too much work, whatever. When you unpack, it usually tends to be a little bit deeper than that.
Davina: It’s self-consciousness or lack of confidence or, you know, worried what other people, it’s judgment. Everybody’s worried about what other people going to think of them. I mean, that’s always think about that when we put ourselves out there, what are other people gonna think of me. And one of the things that I recommend a lot of times is to ask, you know, think of yourself as the hostess, you know, with the event and ask questions to try to make, you know, the other person feel comfortable.
But that also can backfire because I have known of, you know, being attorneys, a lot of times you deal, people will take that too far and then suddenly you feel like you’re being cross-examined. You know, there you are, you’re just like trying to meet this person and then they start asking questions, and then they’re just like, they’re grilling you, they’re cross-examining you.
And you’re like, Oh, my God. Obviously, somebody has talked to them about networking and told them ask questions, because they’re, you know, they’re not dancing in the conversation, you know? Like you would in a normal social, you know, setting if you had a couple cocktails, right? Well, one of the things that you also teach is how to get clear on your story and tell it in an engaging way telling engaging ways. And I know that’s something that a lot of people struggle with is kind of like, how do I talk about what I do in a way that doesn’t sound like I have somebody write me a script, or in a way that people are just like, Oh, yeah, that’s nice.
And they’re walking away or scrolling their phone. So what are some of the things we can do to kind of improve our, you know, the 30-second elevator pitch or 60 second or 90 seconds or however long it is we want to create, you know, that and tell people what we do when they say, Well, what do you do? You know, you hear people say, I’m a divorce lawyer. I’m an estate planning lawyer. Okay. Well, that conversation just died.
You Can’t Assume People Automatically Know What You Do
Stephanie: Right. Yes. Yeah. So a couple of tips for that. One is trying to take everything down to like an eighth-grade level. Like, what if you were explaining what you were doing to an eighth-grader and using those sorts of words so that they can understand what you do? The real point of an introduction, in my opinion, especially when someone is asking What can, what do you do? They have to remember a little bit of it so that they can help you, right? If you tell me that you are a, you know, divorce lawyer, for example, and that’s fine.
But if I don’t know like, how I can help you or who you help, or what problems do you solve, I may not know who I can refer to you. But if you change it a little bit and tell me who you help, what problems do you solve, right? I’m not a business lawyer, but I help small businesses when they have, you know, problems with their employees. Like real basic sorts of language and concepts because people will remember those easier.
It will make you sound like a normal human, and it will also say it in a way that allows them to remember it, or at least trigger like, Oh, I have a friend that does this, or, you know, I know someone that was mentioning that they were having trouble with an employee in their business. I should, you know, have them get in touch with you. That sort of thing. And so we work a lot on kind of that elevator pitch, so to speak. Because, you know, I always tell clients, like, please, please don’t tell me that you’re a lawyer at x firm because there’s a lot of you out here.
Davina: And the firms are always, you know, the firms are always multiple attorney names, you know, so people are like, yeah, I didn’t remember any of that.
Stephanie: Right? Yes, exactly. And so there’s got to be more to it. Like, what value do you add? What problem do you solve? Who do you help? Why do I want to talk to you again after this engagement, right? Or why do I want to like follow you on LinkedIn or be interested in what’s happening in your career or your business? And a lot of times we can get there quicker if we tweak the way that we’re introducing ourselves.
Davina: Yeah. Also, if you kind of leave, you know, just engaging in a conversation, if you think about a normal conversation and you talk about who you help and how you help them, you might, you’re more likely to get a follow-up question, you know, from somebody than if you just say, I’m a family lawyer. And, you know, we also as attorneys, we tend to use, we tend to think it’s so clear what we do when we say something like, I’m a family lawyer.
Well, to the lay public, you know, they to laypeople, they think a family lawyer is somebody who writes wills, you know? They don’t think and so even just shifts like saying, you know, divorce, as opposed to family law is going to add a lot more clarity to what it is you do. But finding, but talking about how you help people is really very, very powerful. And it lets the other person have something that they can volley back to you, you know?
Stephanie: Yeah, no, I definitely agree. And, you know, even other attorneys, when I do workshops in law firms, and they explained to me what they do, I’m like, I have no idea what you just said to me. And so I can’t help you, right? Like, I can’t help you if I don’t even know what you do.
But if you find a way to like, break it down and get it to a place where I know what you’re talking about, and I, it resonates with me like, oh, okay, so now I’m filing that away. So if I know someone that is having an issue with something that you’re able to help them with, I can now put two and two together instead of hearing words that I don’t understand and then throwing it out of my brain.
Davina: Yeah. And it’s also okay not to give somebody a grocery list of all the things that you could do for people because that’s another, you know, little trap that I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about, you know, when you’re helping people with this problem, right? You know, I can do this, this, this and this. So how do I work on that into 30 seconds?
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. And I always tell people like, hey, just pick a couple. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. And the whole point of this is someone has to be able to at the end of this, they need to know, like, and trust you. Like, that’s how we work with people. We know them, we like them and we trust them. If I don’t have those three, especially in a service-based industry, like I’m on to the next person because there’s 1000 good lawyers in your area, right? And they can all do the work and they can all get me essentially the same work product. But there’s gonna be a handful of people that I just know, like and trust.
And those are the people that I want to work with. And we get to that place by being able to show a little bit of our personal brand when we’re making an introduction, when we’re adding value to relationships and when we’re investing in them over time. So keeping that in mind sometimes will help people, you know, focus on the important things. Like, am I saying enough so that you get a feel for what it’s like to work with me, to talk with me, and get you to a place where you can make a determination if you know, like, and trust me.
Davina: Right, You know, and also if you’re dealing with colleagues or, you know, just whomever, right? Other professionals, this really is about creating a personal relationship. You want them to know you and you want them to know that you’re interested in them and learning more about them as a person beyond just your, you know, what they do for a living.
And I know that sometimes people could take that too far in the wrong direction too, where they, all they do is, you know, know each other personally and they never, the other person may know them for years and not ever really realized what it is they do. So there’s a fine balance to that isn’t there? I’m sure you have a structure for teaching that.
Stephanie: Yeah. It’s important to get people to know how you can help them and you have to be direct about it. And it’s funny. When I started this business, I initially thought that most of my clients would be kind of in that zero to 10 years in practice range. And I am surprised, pleasantly surprised to find that I have a lot of clients who are in the like, 20 to 25, 27-year practice range.
A lot of it is for that reason. They say like, I’m so involved. I’m involved in the community, I’m doing all these things, but I literally don’t generate any business from it. And, you know, I, one of the things I’ll ask is like, do they know what you do? And they’ll say, Well, yeah, I mean, they know I work at x law firm. No, no, no. Like, do they know what you do and who you help? And the fact that you want to help them or their friends with these sorts of problems? And they’ll say, No. I didn’t, you know, I guess I’ve never said that. I’ve never been direct. I feel like I’m selling, right?
And when we go down that conversation of like, Well, I mean, we’re always selling whether or not we’re actually selling a service or not, we’re always on and people are making judgments. And so if you have this relationship, you know, you can phrase things in a way that are not offensive, that are educational, that are informative. And if they’re your friend, they’d likely want to help you. And so you have to make it easy for them to help you by giving them all the necessary information. This is what I do. This is who I help. And I’m looking for more clients. So if you know any people like this that could benefit from this, please make an introduction for me.
Davina: Right. So let me ask you this, if you already are, you know, our audience are made up of women law firm owners largely, okay? And so they already got a lot on their plate with running their law firms growing their law firms. Most of them are still engaged in practicing law as well as running the firm. And they’re the ones responsible for bringing in the business as well. You know, does that mean that we have to go to all of these networking events and add that?
And that takes time away from our young children and that takes time away, you know, we’re doing that at lunch, or we’re having meetings at the crack of dawn because we’re trying to, you know, fit this networking in. What are some things that we can do and now, you know, right now as you and I are recording this we’re in the middle of this pandemic and people can’t go out and do those kinds of things?
Conferences and events are getting canceled left to right. What are ways that we can take this kind of thing and use our online tools or technology to warm up relationships and get to know each other better and be able to refer business to one another or help each other? What are ways that we can do that?
Stephanie: Yeah, so you know, a great thing, especially now that we are kind of in a little bit more of a downtime in terms of face to face interaction, are electronic check-ins, right? We can definitely still write handwritten notes, but we also since most of us are probably now more than ever at our computers most of the day, just an email check-in. Like, how’s it going? How are you handling this national pandemic?
Like, is this impacting your business? How can I help you? That, little things like that go really a long way. Can we set up a Zoom call so that we, you know, can have some connection, some interaction? You know, just checking in with people, letting them know that you are still around and actually investing in the relationship. Every email, every action that we take is an investment in the relationship. So if we can get a couple of those under our belt now, where we might have a little bit more downtime than we did before, you know, let’s take advantage of it.
Is there an article that you think is helpful to someone that you could send, that you could share? Is there a podcast episode that you listen to that you think someone would benefit from? There’s so many little things that we can do that are all technology-driven. Can we send someone a greeting card online? Or there’s a website I like called Postable. And I can send you the info if you want to link to it in the notes. But it’s just a website that lets you keep an electronic address book. It can spit out greeting cards to people.
You can schedule it like, to send out birthday cards and anniversary things and it will automatically do it. You don’t have to log in. You can preset it to send it out manually. So there’s lots of different technological things that we can do to really keep these interactions going. And I think you’ll find that you’ll have traction, you’ll have success from just the simple reaching out and hey, and how are you and how can I help you and how are you handling this, that you’ll be able to incorporate this more into your routine.
More than trying to fill it full of, you know, dinners and happy hours where you’re networking with people that you, you know, that you don’t know or that you, that are, it’s making you very uncomfortable or doesn’t fit into your work-life schedule at the moment. You know, you don’t have to do things that are so, such an ill fit for your lifestyle. There are ways to do these things in a way that is conducive to what you’ve got going on. So I think now more than ever, you know, this is the time to take advantage of putting some of those systems in place and reaching out and seeing how people are doing.
Davina: Right, right. And, you know, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been recommending virtual coffees for the longest time. And I’m seeing a lot of virtual happy hours going on now between attorneys. And I just think that’s a fabulous thing and a fun thing to do and something very much needed right now as, especially for, you know, all those parents who are home all day with your kids. They’re like, Okay, I’m gonna go have a virtual happy hour with my friends once I put these children to bed.
And I love that, you know? Let’s talk about the follow up to conversations and how we sort of, you mentioned systems. Is there a good, are they’re good tools, are they’re good, you know, ways that can help us follow up? Are there things we should be doing, things we shouldn’t be doing to follow up with people? What kind of thoughts do you have on that?
Stephanie: Yeah, so the follow up is critical, right? Because if we don’t have a system or mechanism in place to make sure that we are following up, it’s as if the interaction never happened. And so it can be as simple as a spreadsheet or a piece of notebook paper. It doesn’t have to be very fancy, but it has to be something that you will use all the time. So for me, it is honestly, it is a spreadsheet.
I keep track of things in my notepad in my phone of people that I’ve interacted with and people that I want to reach back out too. And I, every night or every couple of nights, I will look at the notepad and I will transfer it to, I will send them the email, send them the follow-up, and then put it on the spreadsheet. And so that’s the system that I have. So as I’m out and about, I’m not gonna remember, I’m not gonna, I’m not a pen and paper person that much. Sometimes I am but for this, I just want it all in one space so I just use my phone.
And then in the evening, I will look through that and I will say, who do I need to follow up with? And, you know, think of all the times that we have told someone, oh, we should do this again soon, or Oh, I’ll email you for coffee and we didn’t do it, right? That happens all the time. So if you want to differentiate yourself, send the email. Like, d,o be the person that bears the responsibility of maintaining the next interaction for this relationship, especially if you said you were going to do it, right?
Especially if you said, I’m going to email you so we can do this again. Another trick is when you’re in the moment to be pretty definitive about what you want to happen next. Do you want another coffee? Do you want another lunch? Do you want another Zoom call? And when do you want it to happen? In 60 days? In the quarter? Next week? Whatever. And tell the person your intention and see if they are on board in that moment. So instead of Oh, we should do this again soon, it can say, or you can say, Hey, this is great.
I would really like to connect with you next quarter. Are you open to meeting for coffee in May sometime? And they would, you know, they agree. They’ll say yes. And then your sentence is, okay, I will email you so that we can schedule that now. Once you’ve had that interaction, so in my example, that’s the name that goes in my notepad. And so it says, Divina coffee May. And then when I’m checking that, right, that tonight or tomorrow night, then I’m like, Oh, yeah, I said we were going to have coffee.
So let me if I’m using a calendaring system, let me send her a link so that we can schedule it. If I am, you know, just going to go back and forth with dates, let me give her a handful of dates that work for me. And so you have to bear some of that responsibility. And I will tell you, your personal brand will skyrocket when you do stuff like that. When you are the person that remembers and actually follows up, like, the bar is so low, people are not doing it. So the fact that you do it, people remember that and it stands out and that helps your personal brand and helps people know, like and trust you.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. So what are, what kinds of things do you encounter with your clients, attorneys that you get sort of pushback on with regard to their mindset around these types of activities?
Stephanie: A lot of it is, especially if they are in a traditional law firm model, whether it’s the firm that they own or, you know, they’re working for someone else, the idea is, well, that doesn’t give me money today, right? Billing these clients gives me money today. If I’m working for someone else, billing these hours and hitting my billable goals, get me a bonus, right? Going to this Humane Society event does not give me a bonus.
And what they’re failing to do is connect the dots. Like you could, going to this dinner tonight is not going to get you a bonus. But going to the dinner tonight and meeting the person that controls the outside counsel for the entire Humane Society, and they have some massive employment issues and you’re able to loop that into your organization six months, two years, three years down the road because you went to an event and you were proactive and maintained a relationship, that’s going to get you a bonus, right?
That’s going to be something beneficial. And so the pushback I get most often is it’s hard for me to want to keep going when the results are not immediate. And so it’s really that mindset shift that we talked about a little earlier is this is a long game, right? Your career is a long time. The impact you want to make is, you’ve got a long time to do it. And you’ve got to make these small deposits so that you can withdraw when necessary. And if you’re in an environment where work is getting pushed down to you, you know, how do you think they got that work? It’s from a relationship.
And so if you’re trying to be in that position one day, you’ve got to start investing in it now. Because I also, you know, how I have, how I mentioned, I have clients who have been practicing for 20-plus years, a lot of them too will say, I want to leave firms or practice areas or whatever. And I don’t know how to do that because like, I don’t know anybody. And here you are looking at their bio, and they’ve got these fancy titles and, you know, winning all these cases and these accolades and they don’t, they don’t have a network.
They have not built a network and they are not able to make a move that they want to make. So getting people to see, you know that, the value in that and the importance of that, and you don’t want to be 20 years down the road and feeling stuck because you don’t know who to turn to or who to ask because you haven’t spent some time building that network. So that’s probably the thing, the pushback thing I work on the most.
Davina: How big of a network do we need?
The Quality of Your Network is More Valuable Than Quantity
Stephanie: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s definitely, definitely quality over quantity. You could have all the contacts in the world but if you’re not nurturing them or nurturing a good handful of them, you may as well not have them. There’s a book called Give and Take by Adam Grant and he categorizes people into givers, takers and matchers.
And he tracks them over a period of years and the people who tend to do the best, who tend to have the most contacts, the deepest relationships, get the most out of them, feel the most fulfilled, get the most reward from that relationship are the people who are givers. But if you look at the chart in his book, they start out slow. They don’t start out like skyrocketing. It takes time to build, but when it builds, it exponentially increases.
Davina: Right. Right. That’s fantastic. And I, you know, and I think that people have a mistaken belief that I’ve got to, especially in this world of lists and email lists and things like that, and people think I’ve got to have thousands of people on my list, you know? You know, I’ve got to have all of these people in my, I’m old enough, where you know, we call it a Rolodex, right? And I remember being at one point before we had things that, you know, would, you could just take a picture of a card and file it in your phone, you know? I would have a basket and I had stacks of cards.
And of course I had all these cards and I meet all these people and I bring them home and, you know, it’s been many years ago. And I keep thinking I’m going to do something with these cards but, so I’m going to put them in a system and then start following up with people and, you know, get organized one day. And then finally, I started going through cards and a lot of them are no longer valid anymore because people have moved on or, you know, businesses have changed and all kinds of things had happened. So I wound up, you know, these cards were of no value. I wound up throwing them all in the trash because I’ve waited so long to do something with them.
Now, we don’t really even take cards from each other, you know? We’re out networking, right? We’re just saying here let me just, you know, let me send you an electronic card or let me just put my number in my phone or, you know, finding other ways to access or I’ll message you on Messenger. Are you want to LinkedIn? Are you on Facebook? Are you on Instagram? You know, I’ll connect with you there. Let me follow you there. But it’s so easy to make that connection and then not do anything with it. The problem is still the same.
Stephanie: Yeah, absolutely. That’s it. I mean, it’s all about like, what’s the next step? Are we investing in, because of that, like, pick a handful, right? It doesn’t have to be every single one. I mean, I have so many people in my network that I am not talking to on a weekly or monthly basis. But I’m doing a good job of trying to just let them know that I’m still around and that I want to check in on them and see how they’re doing.
And so it can be that random sending you an article that you think, I think you might find helpful or just checking in and see how you’re kind of weathering the storm. You know, all of those little touches, you know, make a difference but it has to be something that’s, you know, manageable to you. And it’s definitely quality over quantity.
Davina: Right. Because if it feels overwhelming, then you’re probably trying to stay in touch with too many people, you know what I mean? Like it’d be better than, say if you could develop relationships with 20 really good contacts and you actually had solid relationships with them as opposed to just, you know, liking something on 100 different peoples pages, you know?
Stephanie: Correct. Yep.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about the value piece really quick before we wrap up here because I know that that can feel like, you know, we definitely live in a day and age where there’s a lot of people out there with the internet and social media. A lot of people out there offering content for free, and information for free. And so it can feel like Gosh, do I have to go do create all this content and do all this stuff for free for people?
You know, I need to be charging and making money and so I don’t have time or energy or inclination to create all this, you know, value, quote-unquote value. And a lot of people interpret that as content and videos and blogs and free things, or giving away free consultation or whatever. What kinds of things when you use the word value, tell us what you mean by that and what kinds of things can we offer as value that we may not be thinking about?
Stephanie: Yeah, so the power of remembering to check in giving a book recommendation, asking someone how their day was, sitting next to someone different at the meeting, sending the article link, sending the book recommendation, the podcast. I mean, all of these things, those are all ways that we can add value in a way that is meaningful, that people respond well to and that you don’t have to spend a lot of time putting together a free webinar or whatever.
That’s valuable and that’s great, but if I don’t know you, I don’t want to go to your webinar, right?
So like, if I don’t, if I met you at some, you know, if you’re a realtor and I met you, and now you’re inviting me to a real estate webinar, okay, that’s fine. There’s a whole bunch of those I can go to, but if you checked in and you wanted to see, you know, how I’m doing and say, Hey, by the way, we’re putting on this webinar so we can help our clients, you might find it helpful.
You’re not a client, but you might find it helpful. Why don’t you come join on the house? Okay, that’s a much different picture than meeting someone cold and then, you know, getting them on your email list and blasting them a webinar you’re doing, right? Like so there has to be a little bit of that touch.
Davina: A personal touch.
Stephanie: Yeah, personal touch. And, you know, the value can be like if you do know a piece of legislation is coming down the pike and it’s going to impact someone that’s not a client but could be a potential client, the value is like, hey, just a heads up, this is coming down. This may impact the way that you are administering your employee benefits. I just wanted you to be aware. Let me know if I can be of any help, right? That’s adding value.
Checking in with someone like, Hey, I know you just had to layoff a whole lot of people, given what we’ve got going on. I came across this, you know, link from the Small Business Administration that talks about ways that you can apply for a small business loan, right? That’s adding value. You know, in more normal times, right, if someone was, you know, they, you overheard that they are going to a conference that you attended a few years ago and you still have a contact from that conference putting those two people in touch.
That’s adding value. If there are people in your network that you think would benefit from knowing each other, making that quick email introduction on their behalf, that’s adding value. So there’s lots of ways to do it without putting together additional content. It’s not necessarily always about content because I don’t like you because of the content you put out. But if I like you, I’ll consume the content you put out.
Davina: Right, right. Well, Stephanie, this has been terrific. You’ve given us a lot to think about, a lot of information and I’m sure that my audience is really going to love hearing some of these tips and insights. Tell us a little bit more about how we can find out more about you and get to know you better.
Stephanie: Yeah, thank you. I’ve had a great time with you guys. My website is theother85.net. And I am on LinkedIn a lot at Stephanie Hanna and I can give you the link for that. I’m on Instagram at Stephanie The Other 85. And those are the places I’m probably the most active. I try and post tips, especially now that we are in a time where you’re going to have to rely on kind of digital networking, so to speak. I try and put out, you know, tips, ideas, all sorts of things on LinkedIn so that I can be as helpful as possible. And I would love to connect with anyone listening.
Davina: And you said you have some, you’re going to be working on some workshops for us coming up to sort of help out with this, how to maintain that personal connection, even though we’re, you know, maybe worlds apart with our computers and our technology between us and stuff like that.
Stephanie: Yes, absolutely. And I will post everything on that on LinkedIn. And so yeah, I’m hoping just for 60 minutes, just to give people some comfort, like we can get through this and you won’t lose all your contacts. And you don’t have to put that on the back burner. And in fact, this is a great time to take advantage of some of the maybe additional time some of us have to really work on relationships.
Davina: Great, great. Terrific. Well, thanks so much for being here today. This has been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed talking about it and really digging into this topic because I think it is really powerful and will be super helpful for our audience. So thanks for being here.
Stephanie: Oh, yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.