A gatekeeper is someone who frequently comes into contact with the demographic you are trying to reach.
For example, as a family law mediation firm, I get referrals from therapists and accountants. When people’s marriages are in trouble, they often reach out to therapists and accountants. As a result, therapists and accountants come into contact with lots and lots of people getting divorced. This means they’re my gatekeepers. Therapists and accountants can potentially refer me multiple cases each year. So that’s where I spend my networking time.
I joined the local therapists’ organization and the family law section of the accountants’ organization and actively participate in the meetings and committees.
So who are your gatekeepers and where do they go? What publications do they read? What functions do they attend? What kinds of people come into contact with your target client demographic over and over again? What kind of professional could send you multiple cases each year? If you’re a personal injury mediator, it’s probably litigation attorneys or insurance adjusters. If you’re a construction mediator, it’s architects and builders. Spend time in their professional associations, write for their newsletters, and network with their members.
Network with gatekeepers in a way that suits your individual style.
Even if you aren’t particularly outgoing, you can make good use of your time at gatekeepers’ groups’ networking functions. If you are more of a workhorse, you can gain points by volunteering on gatekeepers’ committees. What better way to prove that you are honest, trustworthy, hard working and worthy of their referrals?
The key to networking is figuring out what you would enjoy that fits within these categories. For example, I really enjoy networking with psychologists. They do interesting work and tend to be very interesting people. When I go to their seminars and luncheons, I always enjoy the speaker because psychology is so different from law. It is never a chore for me to go to one of these events because I enjoy the company and the content. I was less enthralled with hanging out with the CPA group but I did learn a lot at the seminars and cemented some valuable contacts at the catered luncheons. Plus I got CLE credit.
Your gatekeepers will be different than my gatekeepers but the process is the same.
Your client referral sources will be different than my client referral sources but again, the process is the same.
The foregoing is an excerpt from the new book 8 Simple Keys to Building and Growing a Successful Mediation or Arbitration Practice: The Peace Talks Marketing Book, By Diana Mercer, J.D. and James Michael Davis, B. M. F., M.B.A., J.D. It’s available at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/z4AWPO
NOTE: The following article is excerpted from Elizabeth Bader’s forthcoming article in the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal. It has been extensively edited for this purpose. For the full article,...By Elizabeth Bader