Dinner and a handshake

by Erik Cummins on December 16, 2010

You Betcha!

Last week, New York lost one of its inimitable icons, restaurateur . As owner and ever-present host of her Manhattan institution for artists, writers and otherwise recognizable celebrities, Elaine’s , she was both the owner and the face of her brand. While some visitors may have bristled at her abrasive style, Elaine gave a personal touch to our otherwise digital world. And I think that’s increasingly important in business today.

Recently in Los Angeles, I experienced that first-hand, both in my business meetings and over dinner. While I had gotten a decent understanding of one of my new clients by reviewing their website and reading their bios, it wasn’t until I met with them face-to-face that it really became clear what they did and how I could help them. Likewise, at dinner on Melrose at s, we were greeted by the owner-host, Antonio Gutierrez , a man so affable and gracious that many famous stars call the restaurant’s humble interior home.

While we were very pleased with our meals, we were especially taken by the personal service. That service was so outstanding that we have since told many of our friends about the experience. And, what’s the best kind of advertising? Word-of-mouth referrals.

Several weeks ago, a San Francisco attorney told me that most of his business came from his personal connections and that he sealed those deals over intimate settings, like meals and drinks. In fact, he considers his clients personal friends and frequently goes out dancing with several of them.

I replied that our job in PR is to help enhance the firm’s brand name and its practices. And that helps get clients in the door. But, I added, attorneys themselves must use their personal touch to build the kind of trust needed to sign on new clients. GCs often tell me, “I hire lawyers, not law firms.” Sure, it’s important that potential clients know the firm’s name and identify it with specific practices and specialty areas, but real business is done with a handshake and a face-to-face meeting.

Just like at Elaine’s and Antonio’s.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

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