You may think that strong relationships, and things like business development skills, have to do with social interactions with clients and referral partners.
You’re probably wrong.
If you’ve been hired by a client for the right reasons, you haven’t been hired for your personality. You’ve been hired because they believe you have the ability to get the job done.
They may appreciate your personality, but if they’ve hired you for personality rather than skill, that’s a bad decision on their part. And it's not a relationship that will be as strong as one based on performance.
Getting Clients to Believe
If you want to build a strong relationship with clients, you must transfer to them the belief that you are the best tool for the job. You need to build trust and prove your expertise by showing them you have a clear, systematic process for getting from point A to point B.
Lawyers who make their process seem mysterious have weaker client relationships. They try to be smart, but all they do is create anxiety for the client.
The idea is to have a process that’s easy to follow so the client remembers it the next time they have a problem. Or they can easily explain the process to someone else when they refer you.
Education Through Communication
Approach client relationships as if every communication with the client is an opportunity to educate. You don’t have to get into every granular detail of what you do, but you should definitely explain the steps and decisions that matter to the client.
Attorneys who educate their clients build the strongest relationships. Those of us who are introverts don’t have to talk about politics. We don’t have to talk about who won the game last night.
We don’t have to know anything other than what we’ve already established as our area of expertise. That’s why I have more than 130 blog posts that do nothing but educate you and provide value before we ever communicate.
It may not seem overly interesting to you, but that’s okay. You’re not your own target audience. You’re the expert.
To the client, it’s an opportunity to understand something new. Then they associate you with the revelation they just had.
At the end of the day, the most valuable client relationships have little to do with likeability. But they have everything to do with plain old ability.