BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 12 MAY 2017


Building relationships and resilience in one fell swoop?  Yes please.  Let me tell you how.  

Last week, Sharon (our MD); Julie (our Client Services Manager) and I took a table at the London Gliterary Lunch and it was, quite simply, fantastic.  The format is simple.  There are up to ten people (all women) on a table and about a hundred in the room in total.  After the main course and pudding two authors speak about their recently published books.  In our case we had Joanna Trollope and Erin Kelly, both of whom were funny, eloquent and fascinating about their books’ development – and their lives in general.

We had some of our favourite clients and contacts with us, and I was struck by how quickly we moved from ritual and cliché (handshakes, introductions and being on our very best behaviour) to swapping information and then before long getting into really deep liking, and possibly even trust.  Trust of course takes more than one meeting, but if you don’t like someone you won’t trust them, and you’ll never get to the all-important deep rapport that is needed to establish and maintain really fantastic and mutually productive relationships.

I don’t want to claim that this was down to the fact that we were a group of women. That seems too glib.  Rather, there was something about bringing together a great bunch of people, and in an atmosphere that encouraged us to relax and share some of the personal as well as professional aspects of ourselves, that worked beautifully.

I came home feeling relaxed and refreshed, and really motivated to do more of this kind of thing – aka business development by any other name.  All too often people think that business development has to be stuffy and formal, and take place around the boardroom table.  Well not really.  There are loads of ways and reasons to get and keep in touch, to connect with people in a forum other than the office, and that don’t need to cost you huge amounts of time or money.  

Now, some (more) work may well come from having these lovely clients and contacts with us, but even if it doesn’t, our relationships, good will and ability to help one another will be strengthened in other equally valuable ways.  

And if no work comes from it – especially if we ask and are told “No thanks” – that’s great practice for us in terms of keeping in touch, asking the challenging question and dealing with “No” (as my colleague Michael says, the second best answer to “Yes).

The night before the Gliterary Lunch I delivered a session on “Resilience” to around forty freelance lawyers – a fascinating bunch.  I finished off the talk by telling them about the results of the Harvard Adult Development Study*, which has been running since 1938.  Its aim is simple: to find out what it is that makes for a happy life.  No surprises for guessing that relationships are massively important.  Not just the quantity but the quality, and that the benefits of good relationships help our memories and our bodies in our old age.  

Robert Waldinger, the Director of the study, explains that humans are always looking for the quick fix, and in this case there isn’t one.  It’s a question of leaning into these relationships for the long term.  Not always easy, but the benefits outweigh the challenges.

So I’m feeling more resilient today, better connected, and much happier.  All this from a simple lunch.  Who do you need to have a coffee or lunch with that you haven’t for a while?  Give them a ring today – you never know!

*go to and type in “Robert Waldinger” to see this fascinating talk (plus it’s only 20 minutes long – bonus)


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant and is an expert on resilience. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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