Avoid these behaviors to make sure you’re not sabotaging your referral potential when sharing law office space.
Sharing law office space is an effective way to develop referrals relationships with other lawyers, but sometimes making professional connections isn’t as simple as showing up. You have to make sure you’re behaving in a way that will make people want to send you referrals.
One of the main reasons lawyers might be reluctant to refer business to a colleague when sharing law office space is irritating behavior fueled by insecurities. Attorneys, like most people, respect confidence and they want to refer clients to peers who seem to be able to hold their own both socially and professionally.
So remember to leave your hang-ups at the door when you walk into your office and avoid certain negative actions. Here are the most irritating things insecure people do when sharing law office space:
Try to “one-up” others
“Oh you have an AVVO rating of 9? Well, mine is 10. You only graduated law school cum laude? I was summa cum laude.”
We get it. You might be a good lawyer, but that is no reason to try to make yourself seem superior to others. Trying to actively overshadow a colleague’s success will not result in their praise.
Remember that developing professional relationships when sharing law office space isn’t about proving yourself. Lawyers might be notoriously competitive, but one-upsmanship won’t earn you respect or referrals.
Fish for compliments
You were honored with the New York State Bar Association Award for Attorney Professionalism? That’s great, but you don’t need to tell everyone in the office 25 times.
Attorneys come to their office to get work done, not feed your ego. Trust that your suitemates want to see you succeed and that they will congratulate you when it’s warranted.
People often think saying something self-deprecating before they brag will make them seem less egotistical. Honestly, you’re better off just owning the fact that you’re bragging.
You’ll be surprised how many people won’t fault you for being proud of yourself and will respect you for admitting it. Get rid of that urge to negate the positive things you say about yourself because it comes off as obvious false modesty.
Constantly talk about themselves
“I know Bill is a personal injury lawyer, but I don’t really know him. I’m not sure I’m comfortable sending my client to him.”
It’s not enough to meet the other lawyers in your office. If you want referrals, then you have to make an effort to actually get to know your suitemates.
Sharing law office space with the intention of only talking about yourself is a waste of time (and an astonishing number of attorneys are guilty of this). It’s only natural for people to want to talk about themselves, but that’s not how you develop relationships.
No one wants to refer business to someone who never asked them a single thing about themselves. The best way to get people to like you is to show an interest in their lives.
Put themselves down
If you don’t speak very highly of yourself, then don’t expect anyone else to. The opinions people form about you usually aren’t very different from the ones you have already have about yourself.
It’s perfectly acceptable to seek advice from a fellow attorney and admit you feel concerned or out of your element on a certain aspect of a case. However, there is a difference between occasionally mentioning you don’t feel confident and constantly bringing up your insecurities in conversation.
Your colleagues aren’t going to refer cases to you if you don’t seem self-assured. No one wants to risk their own reputation by referring cases to someone who doesn’t believe in themselves.
Oversharing is uncomfortable. Remember that you’re in a professional environment surrounded by your legal peers. Sharing law office space does create a sense of camaraderie, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear about your personal life.
You might develop some deeper friendships with your suitemates, in which case it would be appropriate to share more personal details, but be realistic about how close you really are with someone. Otherwise, you’ll risk making your peers second guess whether they want you around any of their clients.
Insecure people typically make everything about themselves and they have a bad habit of reading into what others say.
Being too sensitive when sharing law office space will make your suitemates feel as if they have to walk on eggshells around you. Pretty soon they’ll avoid speaking to you because they’re concerned you’ll be offended by anything they say.
The easiest way to reveal jealousy is by insulting someone. Do not bring your need for validation or attention into your shared law office.
How you treat others is an extension of how you feel about yourself and no one wants to be around someone insensitive and harsh. Ultimately, making comments in poor taste will result in you losing the respect of your colleagues.
REALLY want everyone to like them
Developing referral relationships when sharing law office space is about meeting people organically and forming genuine connections. That doesn’t happen with every single person you meet.
You should always be warm and friendly towards everyone when sharing law office space, but you don’t have to be everyone’s buddy. Most people can see right through someone who is trying too hard to make friends and it can be perceived as phony.
It’s widely known that people do business with people they like, especially when it comes to referral relationships. Attorneys spend a lot of time carefully developing and managing their client relationships and reputation, which means they aren’t willing to put those things at risk.
Pay attention to how you’re conducting yourself in conversation with your suitemates and make sure you aren’t letting your insecurities get the best of you. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing out on new business.