Networking is about nurturing relationships. It’s about being visible through email, blogging, social networking, and of course, in-person! Even if you have other marketing efforts in place, nothing beats getting some boots on the ground and ingraining yourself in your community. If you’re not sure where to start, here are several options!
1. Social Media Networking
Having a foot in the digital space is a great way to connect with others and expose your brand to a larger audience. Using whichever social media platforms you prefer, connect with your community (other surrounding businesses, local organizations, etc…) and connect with other professionals within your industry. Follow, say hello, share, and engage!
Some platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook have specific groups and forums that you can join. This is a great opportunity to see what others within your profession are doing or to get involved with the community happenings.
2. Guest Blogging
Do you know of another professional that has a blog? Offer to provide a guest article for them to publish, perhaps in exchange for publishing one of their blogs to your network. It’s a win-win! Your brand and content gains exposure to a larger audience, and you are helping another professional do the same.
Make sure the topic is relevant to something that you both do. For example, if this person handles divorce cases and you practice estate planning, consider writing a blog about how divorce can affect estate plans.
3. Join Industry-Specific Organizations
Do some research and find both local and national organizations that you can be a part of. This is a great way to meet new people and make connections.
A few things to consider when choosing organizations to join: your big-picture goals, your specific client needs, what you want to gain from this organization, the cost to join, the time investment, and the size.
4. Attend Conferences, Classes, Workshops
These types of gatherings are great for polishing your skills, getting inspired, networking with other professionals, and connecting with potential clients or referral sources.
Also, look for opportunities to be a leader or speaker in these types of events. You may not feel like you have a lot to offer, but you do. Share your knowledge, your processes, and your opinions on how you run your own business, or how potential clients could gain benefit from using your services.
This is something that you can do as an individual or even as an entire company or group. Get involved in your surrounding community in a way that benefits others. This is an incredible and humbling way to get your name out there and connect with the everyday people that are in your area and might need your services. Be visible, make personal connections, and let your actions show people what your brand is all about… helping others!
Take it up a level and get branded t-shirts for your team to wear. Take photos so that you can share what you’re doing with your online audience by posting to social media or including a blurb in your newsletter.
Believe it or not, there is a huge community of people wanting to meet up for coffee once a week or a happy hour once a month – sometimes with a specific goal in mind, and sometimes just to meet new people and make connections.
Who are these people? They may just be random people within your area, or maybe other legal professionals, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.
You don’t have to attend a meet-up with the intention of handing out your business card and giving your sales pitch to everyone you come in contact with. There are meet-ups designed for networking purposes specifically, and then there are others for people with common interests or the same hobbies. The point of a meet-up is to MEET others. Remember, networking is about nurturing relationships, which doesn’t need to be a ‘business’ relationship. You never know who may know a friend of a friend that needs your service a month or two down the road!
Can’t find a meet-up to attend? Host your own!
Similar to volunteering, getting involved or helping out a charity is a great way to gain positive brand exposure while giving back!
Maybe your office decides to host a canned food drive. Advertise on social media, in your newsletter, on your website! Share flyers with local businesses, put up a poster on your street, spread the word!
Consider hosting a cook-out where all proceeds will go to a charity that your firm decides on as a team. The possibilities for giving back are endless, and your firm is sure to stay memorable.
Here are a few additional tips…
Mingle! Introduce yourself, share your passions, talk about why you do what you do.
Be YOU. Show up as yourself with an open mind and a smile. People are more likely to remember you if they are able to make a personal connection with you.
Have business cards on hand. You don’t have to walk around handing them out to anyone and everyone, but if the opportunity arises, absolutely give them your card! AND make sure to ask others for their business cards so that you can add them to your network and connect with them online later!
Follow up. Don’t just make a connection and let it go flat. Networking is NURTURING. Send a quick follow-up email just to say hi and that you enjoyed connecting! Make sure they feel comfortable reaching out to you if they should need something in the future. And perhaps most importantly, add them to your Contact list and include them on any ongoing marketing, such as a digital or print newsletter. Top-of-mind awareness is the key to effectively leveraging the relationships you create while networking!
You can find various networking events around your city at:
2. Your local Chamber of Commerce
3. Your local bar association
It’s that easy! If you have any other questions about the power and importance of networking and how you can make it part of your brand, give us a call! We’d be happy to chat.