Walker Lawrence: The Power of Being a Fantastic Networker

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Walker Lawrence discuss:

  • Creating your own destiny through key relationships.
  • Becoming a center of influence to grow your book of business.
  • Leveraging technology to help you network.
  • Quality versus quantity in your networking and relationships.

Key Takeaways:

  • In order for you to have control of your own work and destiny, you have to take ownership of it. To do that, you need relationships and clients and have ways to bring value.
  • If you don’t have the relationships, you aren’t bringing in the business (especially right now) which makes you more of a liability than an asset.
  • Find a method that helps you to screen your relationships so that you can connect with the strongest relationships.
  • Be open with your network and synergy partners so that they know who to introduce you to.

“Relationships are the driver of your business.” —  Walker Lawrence

Connect with Walker Lawrence:  

Website: LGAttorneys.com

Email: [email protected]

LinkedIn: Walker Lawrence

Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.

Website: Fretzin.com

Email: [email protected]

Book: The Ambitious Attorney: Your Guide to Doubling or Even Tripling Your Book of Business and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911


Steve: Welcome, everybody, to be that lawyer, the show all about helping lawyers with their business development and become stronger business developers. My name is Steve Fretzin and for the last 15 years or so, I’ve been helping attorneys learn how to plan, execute, follow through on their business development and really grow their law practice, many of them doubling or tripling their law practice after engaging with me. Today, it’s all about networking and one of the best networkers that I know in Chicago is Walker Lawrence. He’s with Levine Ginsburg, a Chicago based firm and the first time I met him, I was just blown away at his is capacity to want to help and to want to connect. I’d like to welcome him to the show – Walker, how are you doing?

Walker: I’m doing very well, Steve, really excited to get a chance to talk and just continue the discussion and see how we can help one another grow our businesses through this kind of difficult time we’re dealing with.

Steve: Absolutely. And maybe given some tips and ideas to the listeners and making sure they walk away after a short amount of time with some good tactical things that they can start to think about doing. If you wouldn’t mind, give a little background on yourself and your law practice, that would be great.

Walker: Yeah. So I primarily focus on the employment and labor space, about 80 percent of my practices on the management side, 20 percent on the executive side, work for full service business boutique law firm that is able to bring value to just about any closely held business in every legal way for both the business and their owners. My practice really is about guiding our clients in their relationship with their employees. It’s a really important aspect of anyone’s business and we’re able to offload a lot of those frustrations and challenges so they can mitigate those risks and continue to operate and run their business successfully.

Steve: So pretty hot topic right now with the coronavirus and what’s been going on with all these businesses with major challenges.

Walker: I am probably the hottest lawyer in our firm at the moment with just getting calls bombarded to me. You got questions about covid-19 leave policies. We’ve got the questions with cheap loans and furloughed and how we’re getting loan forgiveness. And then unemployment continues to be a hot topic. It’s all over the place right now.

Steve: Absolutely. And just taking a step back, was there a point or experience in your life that directed where you went personally or in business or why you became a lawyer?

Walker: A key thing for me was I wanted to be in a place where I could provide value and help to those that need it.

And that’s really why I chose employment law. It’s a way where you can bring immediate personal value, whether it’s an employee and employer, it’s their business or it’s their or their employment and the way of life. And being able to solve a problem that they’re having with their livelihood is an immediate impact. And it brings a tremendous amount of value to me to be there and support people when they’re going through challenging times with respect to their employment or their jobs for their company.

Steve: And there’s been obviously a lot in the news about how people are starting to wake up a little bit to appreciate teachers or to appreciate, you know, the important things that we have in our world and the importance of what, you know, cash flow in business and things like that. I know that you’re someone that is, as has always been driven to build a book of business. Was there a time where you realized that was important? Because I think lawyers need to understand how important that is now more than ever, which is why I bring up, you know, sort of like people sort of waking up out of a slumber of just, you know, being inundated with easy work and being referred by their by their partners.

Walker: Yeah. Approximately three and a half years ago, I was at a firm and realized that if I wanted to have control of both my destiny from an employment perspective, but also kind of doing the work I wanted to do with the clients I wanted, I had to take ownership of that.

And to do that, you need relationships with clients and you need to bring value and find ways to be that key man that your clients are calling and reaching out to whenever they have a problem. And then you funnel relationships to whether it’s other lawyers, whether it’s other professionals. You want to be that that cog that then distributes additional work and opportunity to all your key relationships and synergy partners around you. So three years ago started that just meeting every good person that I could, finding ways that I could immediately bring value to them, find the synergies between the people that I was meeting, make them connected. And it just leads to more and more opportunities where people start valuing the connections you’re making so that when they have a problem and they need to find someone to solve that you become their number one guy to call. And when that happens, you’re having conversations that lead to opportunities for me personally, but more importantly, it gives opportunities to everyone else around me and suddenly become a center of influence that drives more and more referrals, contacts that ultimately, to me, growing my book and my business and my relationships.

Steve: Then again, without having your own clients, if you’re working on everyone else’s stuff, it really limits your ability to, you know, build that network and add value and drive connections between your clients and your resources and your partners.

Walker: Absolutely. I mean, I have clients and I have friends that are lawyers that they’re getting furloughed. They’re getting asked to sit on the sidelines. And the number one reason for that is they don’t have the relationships. If you don’t have the relationships, you’re not bringing the business right now, which means you’re a cost rather than a gain for a law firm. And you want to control your destiny.

Steve: Yeah, and was there something specific about building your book that you found enjoyable was something that was laborious and painful, or was it something that you that you found enjoyment in doing?

Walker: So I’m an extrovert. I love talking to people, hanging out with people and doing one on ones. Contact has really been my focus but there are large group networking meetings. There’s value there too.

But where I thrive is meeting face to face, sitting down and listening and understanding what’s the person across the table from me doing. And it’s really great because you can hear those key issues that they’re having problems with or where you might be able to help them. And then you can immediately make introductions that help those. I really enjoy that one to one meeting and just getting out and talking to other people in terms of liberals making those connections and doing those emails and those sorts of things certainly takes time. But as I think you know, I have developed some tricks of the trade to help me do that automatically. So I leverage some technology that lets me make introductions quickly without me having to spend hours a day doing that, which is really been helpful for me because, you know, there’s a benefit and a curse to networking and development. You’re going and talking to a lot of people, but hopefully that brings in business and then you have to reach that point where you’re balancing it. So I really had to be strategic in balancing those introductions and connections. So it doesn’t take too much time because actually have the real work to do now.

Steve: Yeah, one of the things that I that I focus on with the clients that I work with is really understanding that, yes, there’s some level of quantity, meaning you’d have to get out there, meet a certain number of people, but eventually you want it to be more quality. So we look at how do we qualify the different people that we’re meeting with to know whether they’re going to be a useful resource or not. In some instances, you might move them to a strategic partner where there’s someone that could flow business your way and you to them. And there’s other people that you realize, maybe there’s some limited value. It’s good to know them. It’s going to make a friend. But at the end of the day, you’re not going to spend a tremendous amount of time with them because they just don’t have the same network or the same bandwidth or maybe they don’t have their own clients. Have you found that to be the case, that you’ve become better sort of qualifying who’s a good person for you to work with and stay involved with, or are you trying to do that with everybody?

Walker: Yes. So I would say the last 18 months, my relationship building is really focused on that issue of quality versus quantity. A lot of touch points with relationships already have. And the intros that I’m meeting with new people, it’s got to meet that a higher threshold. I do an introductory phone call with anyone that I’m introduced to in five, 10 minutes. And I can really flesh out if I think it’s going to be a valuable connection. Also know who I’m getting the connection with is also a driver for me. And then I have also requested that if I’m going to get introduced to someone, that they pass it by me first so I can do an analysis of whether or not I think that’s a good fit. And that’s key. Again, the timing. And you don’t want to be out there meeting the spending 10 hours and meetings a week talking to people that are completely worthless. So it’s really about quality at this point. That’s the driver. But you can’t. The key thing, though, is you’ve got to find the right point where it switches because at some point you’ve got to just meet everyone and then it’s got to switch to quality and you’ve got to find that balance. But to really drive your book and drive your client relationships, quality is where you’re going to get the biggest value.

Yeah. So, again, depending on where you are in your practice and how much time you have going out and meeting everybody, you know, I started that way.

Steve: It sounds like you started that way. But again, if you’re busy and you’ve got a limited amount of time, definitely listening to Walker and me about this particular topic, that there may be some ways to qualify through an initial phone call to sort of screen the person. Maybe it’s qualifying them through like I have a particular model I call talent. And so I’m qualifying them on, you know, whether they’re trustworthy or not. Meaning did they set a meeting and keep a meeting? Did they schedule a call and keep the call a little things like that that I start seeing, you know, people that are just constantly rescheduling or blowing off things? Well, these are not people I necessarily want to spend an hour with. If they’re not able to handle keeping a meeting, how are they going to be as a referral partner? Right. So talent, meaning, you know, are they trustworthy? Are they someone who is an authority on what they do? Are they likeable? Are they a network or are they top player? You know, there’s different things that I’m looking for. You fit all of those. So when I met you, like, I was like, holy crap, home run. And here’s someone who’s interacting with lawyers daily. I’m interacting with the lawyers daily. Can we work together? And the answer was a resounding yes. But for others that I’ve met and you’ve met, we go, well, you know, limited network is not very trustworthy. They don’t seem to really know what they’re talking about all the time. Yeah, maybe someone I want to pass on spending real time with.

Walker: Yeah. One thing that I do after ever first meeting is give a little homework assignment for a meeting with, which is to get me an introductory paragraph that that I tell them I will not make any introductions until I get them. And that is incredibly valuable qualifier. The people that are hungry and that are looking to develop relationships are very quick to respond to that. Those that take a long time, you know, it’s something that I value a lot. And I also follow up every meeting with an immediate email. Within the two hours or so that I’ve got templated out, that gives them all the same information I’m asking from them so they may see what I want. And if someone doesn’t follow through with that in a timely fashion, I make a very quick note of that. And that’s an important drive for me.

Steve: Yeah, but I think that that what we’re both talking about is taking your networking to another level so that you’re really learning to get better at qualifying.

And what ends up happening is not only do you get in front of better people, but you get in front of people that have a stronger chance of becoming a real strategic partner, a real movement to help you get referrals into your practice. And some of that you can count on to refer out things to. And if you meet with 10 people, maybe only one or two are going to really fall into that category. So if you can knock that down to five and get one, one out of five know you’re already saving time, you’re already being more effective with how you’re able to build hours and manage your networking.

Walker: So the way I’ve dealt with that is really making sure the people that are making introductions to me know exactly who I want to know and why. So it’s really making my network and my synergy partners understand what I need and why. And finding those people that that need to talk to me has been probably the biggest value is to make sure that people know exactly who to introduce me to. And that’s been a critical component is clarifying that for my relationships.

Steve: So adding on to that, you know, to be a coach for a moment, to the people listening, what would you tell them they have to do to be successful?

Growing their own law practice in networking is a part of it, sure. But there’s more to it than that. What are some of the things like two or three things that you would say these are these are the main things you need to think about as you’re, you know, getting furloughed or you’re hopefully not going to get furloughed. What are what are some things that you’d share?

Walker: So first kind of big point is differentiate yourself from other lawyers and you’re going to do that by touch points. And I’m not talking emails. I’m talking phone calls, preferably video where you’re having engagement and interaction with your clients or your relationships. So many people are getting bombarded with digital marketing right now. If you’re sending an email, you’re not getting any traction with that. So find the people you want to talk to set a goal. I’m at fifteen touch points a week and I’m making sure I hit that and try to overachieve every week.

Second one is when you’re calling and talking to people right now. It’s not about getting legal work, really. It’s about being a colleague, a friend and know that that we’re all in this difficult situation together and making people understand that you’re there for them because empathy is going to be the driver of all business. If people understand believe you’re there to be for their best interest and you look out for them, you’re going to have opportunities down the line and lawyers that that’s a critical component. They need to know that you care about them and their business. And now is a great time to do that in a way that you’re not selling them.

And then three is I’m giving a lot a lot of guidance and advice on issues that clients haven’t solicited. But I’m finding the reason to call my clients. So I know I have a client that has an unemployment issue. There are some unique issues going on in the unemployment space right now. I’m going to give them a call and say, hey, heads up, have you thought about this? Or I’ve got other clients that are essential businesses and they’ve got employees that are concerned about coming into work. We’re going to find ways to touch point on social concerns and CDC guidelines bringing immediate value and not charging the client right now so that their problems that they’re worried about are getting solved with them, not having to think about it because we’re the resource to help solve those problems.

Steve: Right. Right on. There’s a segment that I usually include in an interview like this called The Things They Never Taught Me in law school from a law practice growth perspective. Is there is there one thing that a young lawyer must know coming out of law school or that you wish they taught you in law school?

Walker: I think, you know, the biggest thing is, is relationships are the driver of your business. Doing good work is important and used to be the most successful way to grow a practice that’s no longer the case. You need to be the key kind of guy on a particular issue. And it needs to not because you’re the best lawyer in the world, but it’s because they like you. You’re a good guy. You’re there to help them. So being a great lawyer is very important. But being a better person can often lead to better opportunities down the line.

Steve: Right on, right on, anything specific you want to promote about your law practice or about yourself is we kind of wrap things up today.

Walker: Yeah, I’ll say one thing that I’ve been doing a lot of right now that’s been really successful is finding people that are doing webinars or have clients who are trying to get in front of and they need they’re starving for content. So I’ve been doing a lot of webinars with other Cinergy partners and relationships. I have or I can have a plug and play webinar series or programs that we can offer to their relationships. And it’s an immediate value builder for them because they’re giving content their clients want. And I get the additional benefit of contacts with new clients or new businesses that I haven’t talked to before. So if there’s anyone that might want to work together on a webinar or some other presentation to a set of clients, I’m there to help out.

Steve: Terrific. Terrific. And how do people get in touch with you?

Walker: The best way is probably via email, which is going to be [email protected].

Steve: Well Walker, I want to thank you for being on my show and being a guest. Again, one of the best networkers I’ve met in Chicagoland and 15 years I’ve been doing this crazy business. You’ve always been very generous and your follow through is exceptional. And hopefully the people listening today take to heart what you’re saying and that networking and qualifying and really figuring out some best practices to go to law practice is critical. So thank you again for being my guest.

Walker: Really appreciate the opportunity. And I just want to emphasize, you know, anyone that’s looking for some guidance on how to kind of take practical steps to help grow their business, Steve will be an eminent good resource to help you solve those problems.

Steve: Now, I appreciate that. And everyone, thank you for listening. Hope you enjoyed today’s show and that you’re one step closer to being that lawyer, confident, organized and a skilled rainmaker. Take care. Stay safe.