Intranets. They’re like the brother or sister of a much more famous, celebrity sibling. At the end of the queue when talent and good looks were handed out, they are destined always to live in the shadows. And the reality is that they are often overlooked as a source of information on current clients and prospects in favour of that show-off relative, the Internet.

But whether you have a functional intranet or not, how good are you or your firm at cross selling new opportunities to your colleagues? Multi-disciplinary practices with offices in numerous locations (both nationally and internationally), often experience difficulties with effective and practical knowledge sharing.

Frequently, management overlook the fact that they already have a resource crammed full of the latest information, industry news and client insights ready, willing and able to share that vital data. What is that resource? All your fee earning and support staff – A kind of ‘human intranet’ if you like.

Of course there are many ways to maximise engagement between offices and practice areas, but here is an idea that you might wish to try.

At least once a year, I recommend that you organise an internal ‘trade show’. The purpose is for each office and/or practice area to highlight and demonstrate recent successes and to ‘pitch’ for cross referral opportunities.

This is not the same as a Partners or marketing meeting, but a unique opportunity for staff to tell others about their clients, third party referrers and desired prospects.

If you are considering such an event or wish to adapt your current annual conference, I suggest taking the following steps:

·         Give all participants plenty of time (at least 3 months) to prepare their pitch presentations. Remember content can potentially be extracted from recent directory or award submissions.

·         Make attendance compulsory for the maximum number of fee earners and support staff as is feasible. Organising such an event will be time consuming and expensive in terms of the loss of attendee time. The impetus for involvement in the show must come from the leadership team.

·         Allow sufficient time for the delivery of presentations, discussion and questions. In particular, delegates should be encouraged to explain their current client base, existing referrers and their business development targets.

·         Encourage attendees to record each and every new opportunity created, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

·         It is essential that there is a detailed debrief and accurate measurement of opportunities created. You should follow up with all attendees to ensure that they took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them.

The internal trade show is much more than just a networking event. It is a carefully structured opportunity for your colleagues to find opportunities right under their noses without having to resort to the internet. The ‘human intranet’ can finally leave its upstart sibling in the shade.

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