Jenniffer A. Brown
Weiner, Millo, Morgan & Bonanno, LLC
At the last ALA Chapter Leadership Conference, I was reminded that there are vendors, and then there are Business Partners. Let’s be clear, all of our Business partners are in the business of sales, but our ALANYC Business Partners are a cut above the rest and are certainly NOT VENDORS! We call them BUSINESS PARTNERS because they take the time to build relationships with our members, thereby gaining the opportunity to become a valuable asset to our law firms and legal departments, as well as the chapter and association.
The Business Partner Program originated over 12 years ago with Pat Rudloff and Diane Fugali and 7 BP sponsors. Prior to that, the chapter was supported exclusively by using membership dues, which was very limiting in terms of programs the chapter could offer to the members.
Today, our Business Partner program boasts over 30 BPs in 5 Clubs: Empire, Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station and Liberty.
“Working with the ALA as a Business Partner has been rewarding on a variety of fronts. First, you join a network of closely-knit professionals who are regularly seeking dependable resources for their firms. Business Partners are given early opportunities to present their products and services to the membership. Second, the regular networking events are great opportunities to meet new members and develop stronger friendships with existing ones. Finally, I learn valuable information for my own business during the educational sessions. While there is an investment by Business Partners in terms of time and money, qualified Business Partners are rewarded with both prospect face time and a new loyal customer base.” Sarah V. Gillen is the President of Emergency Skills, Inc.
As you can imagine, being an ALANYC Business Partner is a pretty costly venture, therefore it stands to reason that our sponsors need to show a return on their investment, because they are, in fact, investing in our chapter.
WE CAN HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR ROI by:
Giving our BPs an opportunity to respond to a call for an RFP from your firm.
Referring them to chapter members and others within your network to seek new business, as the opportunity arises.
Accepting an invitation to lunch or dinner and give them a chance to get to know you as a chapter member.
Meeting with them for 15 minutes to hear their business pitch.
Calling on them if you have questions that are unique to their expertise, whether or not you are their client, AND,
Offering them a project with your firm that would “test” their capabilities.
MEMBERS HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TOO:
Be courteous and welcoming to our BPs and introduce yourself to them at events.
Accept their phone calls and listen to them for 5 minutes.
Set realistic expectations – Be honest and let them know if you do not need their services, but don’t forget to thank them for their sponsorship.
If there is a chance your firm can use their services, please refer them to the appropriate person within your firm.
Always refer them to your colleagues but don’t forget to speak to them at chapter events and thank them for their sponsorship.
Those of us who serve on the board, get to understand very quickly the value of our Business Partners. Without them, the benefits to you, the members, would not be as attractive as those we currently enjoy. It is because of their sponsorship that we were able to host our events in classier venues, engage the services of high-caliber speakers and issue scholarships to annual conferences. If given the chance, our BPs make us look like rock stars to our Managing Partners!! They sponsor and/or host our educational sessions and provide us with topical experts.
“The Business Partner Program is an irreplaceable resource for anyone associated with legal management. The ALA BP directory is my personal favorite. When our Firm must find a vendor, I check the directory first before posting a question to the discussion board or using Google. Because of this, we are customers of at least 4 past and present Business Partners (Atlas Consulting, Elite Limousine and MindSHIFT, to name a few). If a particular vendor did not meet our specific need, I’m pleased to refer them to someone else who is searching for their services. I believe this speaks to the successful collaboration between our Business Partners and the ALA membership.” Tina Carter is the Office Manager/Systems Administrator of DUNNINGTON, BARTHOLOW & MILLER LLP
If you see an ALANYC Business Partner, introduce yourself and at least another colleague! AND NEVER FORGET TO SAY THANKS FOR YOUR SPONSORSHIP OF OUR CHAPTER.