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How to Meet Anyone Using the "Buzz Networking Method"

By Buzz Bruggeman | Friday, February 6, 2015

Originally published on February 5 in our free SmallLaw newsletter. Instead of reading SmallLaw here after the fact, sign up now to receive future issues in realtime.

Former lawyer and ActiveWords co-founder Buzz Bruggeman seems to knows everyone, including famous authors and billionaire entrepreneurs. We asked Buzz to share his secrets, which we've dubbed the "Buzz Networking Method." As it turns out, Buzz initially created the Buzz Networking Method to build his law practice. You'll learn how it started, why it works, and how to implement it at your law firm. Also, don't miss the SmallLaw Pick of the Week (newsletter only) to learn about the five key factors google uses to rank law firm websites.

In my last weeks at Duke Law School, one of my favorite professors invited me to stop by his office for coffee. In the course of our conversation, he asked me if I had any complaints or suggestions about my three years. I said that the experience had been outstanding, but I wasn't sure I knew how to find the courthouse.

He replied, "If you want to find the courthouse, buy a map." A few months later, I was the newest associate in a law firm, and while I had found the courthouse, I truly had no idea what I was doing.

A few weeks after starting, the firm's office manager walked in, and placed a circular rolodex on my desk. I took one look at it and thought that I was about to be assigned the mind numbing task of cataloging everything in the firm's law library.

But her instructions were very simple. "Write down something (beyond the basics) about every person you meet."

From Chore to Habit

It's now more than 40 years later, and I have slightly more than 14,000 contacts in Microsoft Outlook. When I discussed this story at a CLE event, a young lawyer asked me how I got them into Outlook to which I replied, "One at a time." The more important question is why I have chosen to do this.

At first it truly was a matter of following orders. At some relatively early date, I realized this contemporaneous collection of information about people was a good and potentially even brillant idea. It felt like accumulating this kind of personal information could at some point be very valuable.

There were no software tools when I started. Writing and updating Rolodex cards was a nightmare. My handwriting was terrible. Typing on an IBM Selectric typewriter made the Rolodex cards more readable, but the process was painstakingly slow.

With the advent of personal computers, I began to experiment with what were initially called "PIMs" or personal information managers. These were nothing more than simple databases with templated interfaces that began to simplify the "who/what/when/where/why/how" of what so much of my practice was about.

PIMs made it easier to accumulate data about my clients and others. When a client would mention to me that that his son was at the University of Florida, I would add that piece of data to his "profile." Once this data was in place, the rest became even easier.

I did my best to meet the significant political and business leaders in my community, and sought to ask them questions about themselves such as how they attained their positions in life. I would note their answers, and then follow up later with information that might benefit them. I practiced the doctrine of Woody Allen who said, "80% of success is showing up," and took it many steps further by coming prepared, engaged, and willing to follow through and follow up.

Adding Value to People's Lives One Note at a Time

Along the way, I realized all kinds of activities could help me build my practice — join clubs, play golf, buy drinks, network, etc. But I quickly learned that the two most beneficial activities consisted of referring business to clients and sharing ideas.

Many lawyers refer business, but sharing ideas proved harder because it required greater insight into those I met in terms of what they were passionate about and how I might be able to add value. This required listening carefully to them about non-business matters — the details of their lives and families — and then just taking notes, and processing those notes in a timely fashion.

In the early days, I clipped articles, attached a handwritten note, and had my secretary stuff them into envelopes. I was and remain a voracious reader so finding information was easy. Associating them was a bit harder.

I resolved early on that I should never expect to get a response from my notes. Perhaps my personal psychology was that if my clients thought it was a stupid idea, no problem. But I was predisposed to believe that sharing ideas would be meaningful to someone.

To my surprise and delight, my clients loved my notes. And they began telling their friends about what I did, and how meaningful it was. Adding value to their lives, to their ideas, to their work became a significant part of my everyday work.

A growing body of software for creating this kind of knowledgebase kept reaffirming and reassuring me that my ideas worked.

The Tipping Point

There's one event that truly stands out.

In 1995, I had the good fortune to take my wife and daughters to Moscow for a month. Each day in Russia, I would write 500 to 1,000 words about what I had seen that day. I would email that mini-essay back to my secretary. She would then personalize that message, and send it to every client via email and fax (not everyone had email then). When I returned to the states and my practice, I was a "rock star."

Those email newsletters had spread virally through the community. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people beyond my client base had read them. There were stacks of phone messages on my desk with the names of people who wanted me to call them about matters that I might handle.

A Lifelong Practice

Even though I no longer practice law, I still practice these same ideas. I constantly find myself sharing information, introducing and connecting people, and doing my very best to add value to their lives.

Today's tools make it easier to store all this information, but the requisite attention to detail remains a human task — talking to people, understanding systems, and remembering or double checking my contact notes to make sure what I plan to share is germane.

At one point, I surmised that "A" list bloggers might be extremely valuable so I begin sharing articles, ideas, links, etc., again without expectation of a response. At one high-tech conference I was recognized by Doc Searls, the co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, as being a "C+ blogger, but an A+ blog reader."

As a child I had hoped one day to meet a person who had written a book. Today I am the subject of chapters in two important books. Talk about gratifying! See Robert Scoble, Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers (2008); Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People (2006).

In the early days of ActiveWords, I received some invaluable advice from someone I respect that again validated the correctness of what I had been doing. He told me, "Once a product is built, it's all about relationships."

As a lawyer, I was the product — the product of my education and experience. But without the relationships I built using the method described in this article I truly wasn't much of anything at all.

Buzz Bruggeman is a co-founder of ActiveWords. He graduated with honors from Coe College and from Duke University Law School. Prior to ActiveWords he spent 30 years as real estate lawyer. He runs all of the outward facing aspects of ActiveWords, including marketing and partnering. Buzz served on the advisory board of the Demo Conference, won a Demo God award, and has been featured in books by Dan Gillmor and Robert Scoble. Buzz has been a longtime participant in the startup and blogging communities, and routinely speaks and consults on using new media tools to market and evangelize software.

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Written by practicing lawyers who manage successful small firms and legal technology and practice management experts who have achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in small law firms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles (and podcasts and videos) about solo practices and small law firms. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | SmallLaw

Why You Need Only One Domain Name Plus 44 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 45 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

Horenstein Law Group Succeeds by Being Nimble

Keeping Better Notes for Defensive Lawyering

12 Inbound Link Strategies for Lawyers

The 30 Best Law Firm Tag Lines Ever

Congratulations to Kenji Crosland of Mockingbird Marketing on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: Why Your Law Firm Needs Only One Domain Name

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

How to Advertise on Google for Free Plus 48 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 49 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

Small City Law Firms Find Faraway Clients

Cost Recovery Strategies That Work in 2015

Is Your Website Pushing Too Hard, Too Fast?

10 Tips to Building Killer PowerPoint Slides

Congratulations to Mike Volpe of HubSpot Blog on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: How to Advertise on Google for Free

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

How Prospects Find and Judge Your Law Firm Plus 39 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 40 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

Trust Accounts Primer

How a Virtual Law Firm Uses Office Space

Target Your Key Audiences With a White Paper

The Companies Connecting Lawyers to Clients

Congratulations to Lee W. Frederiksen of Business of Law Blog on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: How Prospects Find and Judge Your Law Firm

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

The Key to a Happy Client Plus 51 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 52 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

The Practice of Law From A-Z

Get Naked With Your Clients to Build Trust

13 Ways to Get Clients to Hire You

Trends in Legal Marketing for 2015

Congratulations to Rod Boddie of Law Practice on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: The Key to a Happy Client

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

Nine Steps to a Successful Blog Strategy Plus 49 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 50 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

How an Auto Accident Can Ruin Your Practice

Is Your Office "Historic"?

How to Create Simple Drawings for Blog Posts

How Google Works

Congratulations to Will Blunt of HubSpot Blogs on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: A Step-By-Step Guide to a Successful Blog Strategy

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

iOS Notifications User Guide Plus Speak Your Way to New Cases

By Kathryn Hughes | Friday, December 12, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: iOS notifications on your iPhone and iPad (and soon Apple Watch) offer you unprecedented awareness of your world. However, great power requires some responsibility. In this issue of SmallLaw, TechnoLawyer publisher and iOS expert Neil Squillante explains the various types of notifications, and provides strategies on how best to use each of them. Neil also explores the intricacies of Notification Center, which he describes as a "parallel universe" within iOS. Also, don't miss the SmallLaw Pick of the Week to learn how to gain new clients through speaking events.

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Written by practicing lawyers who manage successful small firms and legal technology and practice management experts who have achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in small law firms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles (and podcasts and videos) about solo practices and small law firms. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | SmallLaw

What's Hot and Not in Legal Practice Plus 50 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 51 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

Lawyer of the Year Kathleen Zellner

An Ode to Law Firm Leadership

Is This the Next Major Lawyer Rating Site?

Your Firm's Facebook Page Will Soon Be Gagged

Congratulations to Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: What's Hot and Not in Legal Practice (PDF Version)

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

A Matter of Trust Plus Technology Gift Guide for Lawyers

By Kathryn Hughes | Friday, December 5, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: Working in a small law firm isn't all sunshine and bubble gum. Sometimes the environment becomes toxic. Law firm CIO and former Navy officer Matt Berg has found that most such situations result from a lack of trust. In this issue of SmallLaw, Matt explains how to rebuild trust in three scenarios — between you and your boss, between you and your direct reports, and between you and your peers. Also, don't miss the SmallLaw Pick of the Week for GPSolo's massive 15,000+ word technology gift guide for lawyers (they say you can see this article from space).

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Written by practicing lawyers who manage successful small firms and legal technology and practice management experts who have achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in small law firms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles (and podcasts and videos) about solo practices and small law firms. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Office Management | SmallLaw

How to Calculate Your Law Firm's Marketing Budget Plus 35 More Must-Reads

By Kathryn Hughes | Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coming today to SmallLaw: Our editorial team has selected and linked to 36 articles from the past week worthy of your attention. Below you'll find a sample article from each section of today's issue, including our SmallLaw Pick of the Week.

Top Five Reasons Why Prospects Don't Hire You

Fair Deal for All Clients

Are You Losing Prospects at Hello?

How to Use Marketing Personas

Congratulations to Stephen Fairley of The National Law Review on winning our SmallLaw Pick of the Week award: How to Calculate Your Law Firm's Marketing Budget

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small law firm, big dreams. Written by successful small-firm founders, managing partners, administrators, and legal technology and practice management experts, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing, and technology issues in solo practices and small law firms. Additionally, SmallLaw features comprehensive reviews of legal products with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. SmallLaw also ensures that you won't miss anything published elsewhere by linking to helpful articles, podcasts, and videos about solo practices and small law firms. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Coming Attractions | Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | SmallLaw
 
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