Posted by: johnocunningham | October 27, 2018

Relationships Take Time

In a number of talks I have had with law firm partners about business development and marketing, I have been asked if there is any way to “short cut” through all of the suggested investment of time in building and expanding profitable relationships. My short answer has always been “no” and I have cited research and analysis on the number of “impressions” it takes to make a sale and the number of contacts it takes – on average – to recruit a new customer or get new business from an existing one. The parallel I draw is to making new friends.

Now, there is some scientific research on just how long it takes to build trust and common ground sufficient to form the basis for a friendship.  Recent research from the University of Kansas demonstrates that it takes – on average – about 50 hours of socializing to move from acquaintance to casual friend, and 200 hours to cement a “close” friendship. If an average social interaction is two hours in length, that constitutes 25 social interactions to make a “casual” friend and 100 interactions to form a “close” friendship.

So why would we think that the time it takes to move business from one trusted professional to a new trusted professional would take any less time? The decision to include a professional service provider in your inner circle of advisors in whom you trust carries far greater implications than the decision to add a new friend to your retinue of trusted associates.

That’s why professional service providers need to invest significant time in building new relationships or expanding existing ones. There is no substitute or short cut for developing trust and close affiliations.


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