Effective networking is more important as the legal marketplace becomes more competitive. A lot of lawyers do not embrace networking and wish they didn’t have to do it. It is not why we went to law school after all. Notwithstanding one’s aversion to networking, it is necessary! So you might as well make networking work the best you can.
- Develop a lawyer network. Make a point of meeting and developing relationships with non-competing lawyers for mutual referrals. Both may have clients who could use the other’s services;
- Connect with other professionals. Obviously, this could also result in mutual referrals that will expand your client base as well as theirs. Such connections could also benefit your clients’ businesses;
- Help others reach their goals. Don’t look at a networking event as one where you have to sell yourself. Rather, consider it an opportunity to make friends, and help them achieve their goals. As Zig Ziglar wisely stated “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Look for ways to be helpful to those you meet at networking events, rather than looking for what they can do for you;
- Always keep your word. If you say to someone you meet that you will check on something or send information or provide a link or an introduction, NEVER fail to do so. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you put your reputation in jeopardy;
- Always follow up. Not only on what you say you will do, but with the contacts made. Even if there may be no need for your services by them nor opportunities for referrals from them, add the contact to what I refer to as a Quarterly Contact List, and then contact each person at least four times a year. Such contact could take the form of an email, telephone call, or in-person meetings, where possible. You could provide a link to an article of interest based on your conversation or reference information picked up on Google Alerts;
- Network via social media. Post an article on a blog, participate in discussions on LinkedIn or Google+ to raise your profile and to make contacts with whom you want to develop relationships; and
- Be yourself. In all networking events you should avoid coming across as someone you are not. You need to be your true self – honest and sincere. Don’t be afraid to share some personal information which can help build a relationship, particularly if the other person does the same.
Networking should not be feared or avoided. So get out and about to improve your networking in order to grow your practice.