Last month, Levenfeld Pearlstein (“LP”) invited me to their annual LP Women’s Event, giving me a great excuse to visit Chicago. It was absolutely time and money well spent!
The purpose of LP’s Women’s Event is to connect LP’s clients and friends in a meaningful way. This focus on connection is integral to LP’s culture. In fact, their website says “Growing our network and making connections in and among our clients is one of LP’s top priorities.” What a value-add proposition!
I admit that although I love this firm, I was not sure if they could successfully pull this off – connecting people while also running a profitable law firm is a tough thing to do. Could they really make it happen?[I should note that my initial skepticism was completely unjustified. In every experience I have had with LP, they have blown me away with their focus on service.]
LP absolutely made the magic happen.
The experience started with an invitation which read:
“We believe only good things can happen when you put smart, talented, successful women in a room together. Join us for this dinner party where the featured guests are you and many other brilliant women we know.”
Per Andrea Maciejewski, the firm’s CMO, each LP female professional was asked to invite two women (clients or friends) who they thought would enjoy an evening of laughter and networking. (While I am not a client of LP, they still befriended and invited me.)
When I RSVP’d, I received a message that said “To help us better prepare for this event, tell us what you hope to accomplish this year.”
Let me just lay this out for you: LP created a networking event to connect their clients and friends and then asked each guest what kind of connections would be most helpful to them. Holy $h!t.
The Event Itself.
On May 31st, I showed up fifteen minutes late (Chicago traffic!) at a hip-looking, warehouse-y place and was greeted with a hug and a smile by Maciejewski. Until that moment, we had only spoken on the phone, but she made me feel like an old friend.
Maciejewski immediately introduced me to Deborah Knupp, Managing Director, (a.k.a. b@d@ss), for GrowthPlay, a law firm business development and client service consulting firm, because Maciejewski knows of my obsession with both subjects. We chatted as other LP women mingled and introduced guests to each other.
Connecting Is an Action
Each introduction went something like this: (1) resume – who each woman works for, what they do and why they should meet and (2) kudos – telling each person what makes the other person great.
This form of introductions is straight out of the well-known business book Tribal Leadership. In Tribal Leadership, the authors tell the story of CBRE legend Darla Longo and how she is acclaimed for building “triad” relationships.
Per the book, when you connect two of your contacts in a triad, they establish a relationship that no longer requires you to be involved. Those individuals take the relationship beyond the point of interaction with you. Contrast this with a hub and spoke relationship where your presence as the hub is always necessary to connect the two spokes (your contacts).
Longo is apparently a master at triads and hosts an annual event much like LP’s where her sole purpose is connecting people with each other. In Longo’s instance, she “receives loyalty and followership by creating relationships between other people.”[i]
[Side note: I was first introduced to Tribal Leadership by one of Longo’s colleagues, CBRE Managing Director Natalie Bazarevitsch, back in 2008 and have found that creating these triad relationships is infinitely rewarding, both personally and professionally.]
“If you build the relationship between two people and then walk away, most of them will praise your efforts. You’ve increased the respect you get by showing the same to other people.”[ii]
The connecting activity continued into the dinner portion of the LP event where one of the female partners welcomed us with a short speech encouraging us to leave the event with at least one new friend and one new connection. This really set the tone for a great evening.
The Seating Plan
All attendees were seated at preassigned tables, each of which included nine women: three LP ladies and six guests.
It was clear from the table discussions that the LP table hosts had been provided with the table guests’ responses to the “what do you hope to accomplish” question from the RSVP. All of the hosts went to great effort to ensure they were helping their guests meet people who might assist in each woman’s goals.
Another subtle touch? To facilitate an exchange of business cards, LP gave each attendee a leather business card case embossed with “Empowered Women Empower Women.”
The Net Result?
A great night. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt, empathized with other working moms, learned new things, and made some new friends. I think my LP hosts had to kick me out so they could all go home to their families. (As my energy level peaks at about nine am, this is saying something.)
Thank you, LP. You put your time and money behind adding value to your clients and the connections made at this event are a great example of how you do it. If you are a general counsel and you have not checked out this firm, do it!
[i] Logan, David (David Coleman). Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. Collins, 2008. p. 184.
[ii] Ibid. p. 190.