8 simple networking tips for lawyers
We know you throw your heart into your practice. But even if you work long hours, spin killer arguments to win your cases and become so beloved by your clients they never again tell a lawyer joke, you still can’t just expect that others will find you.
That’s why networking is so crucial. The word “networking” carries the same ugly-jargon aura of “synergy” and “proactive,” but behind the buzzword is a simple activity: building relationships with others.
For an attorney, networking can be the difference between moving on up and going belly-up. Building the right relationships will get you a job, help you keep it and allow you to continually grow your practice.
These tips will help you regardless of what occasion you find yourself in. But remember, it takes more than a checklist to build connections. You don’t have to be naturally charming or gregarious, but networking is a living art form founded in warmth, curiosity and generosity.
1. Schedule it
Don’t wait until your practice is slow or you have an official networking event to meet people. Make it a regular weekly practice to connect with two or more people who could potentially send clients your way.
Networking doesn’t always mean meeting new people. There may be some low-hanging fruit in the form of reconnecting with others whose relationship has gone dormant.
3. Focus on your contemporaries
Because more established attorneys generally already know who they’ll refer clients to. But also…
4. Remember mentors
Don’t forget the professors and others who helped you get where you are. Invest in that relationship and always be on the lookout for others who may be willing to take you under their wing.
5. Find the super-connectors
A brief analysis of your current professional relationships and friendships will probably reveal a pattern: there are a few key people who brought most of them into your life. These are super-connectors, the talented matchmakers of the professional world. Keep your relationship with them strong and always be on the lookout for others like them.
6. Take a walk?
Though “doing lunch” or grabbing coffee are the standard meet-ups, don’t be afraid to be a little creative. One new trend among office workers who are too often sedentary is meeting up to go on a walk through an enjoyable setting. With someone very busy and experienced that you want to meet, you might ask if you can swing by their office with coffee sometime. If they prefer to leave their desk, they’ll tell you. Otherwise, they’ll appreciate that you’re working to not be a time-sink to them.
7. Have goals
The more you know about what you want out of the meeting, the more confident you’ll be. One key goal, however, should always be to make the other person feel respected and valued, rather than feeling like a tool you’re using to get what you want.
8. Always ask the Golden Questions
According to Julie Robinette, author of How to Be a Power Connector, there are three Golden Questions that you should ask before ending any one-on-one meeting:
· How can I help you? Show others from the start that you’re not just mining them for resources; you’re interested in making this a two-way relationship.
· Do you have any ideas for me? You can get a lot from this question and yet it doesn’t seem like schmoozing. People often like to be asked for their ideas because it makes them feel valued.
· Who else do you know that I should talk to? This can exponentially expand your network. Plus, when you contact those others, you’ll be able to mention the name of the person who recommended them to show that you’re someone worth talking to.
When you begin, you may feel like a lot of your meetings are a wash and you’re not going anywhere. But if you continue meeting new people consistently, in time you’ll find you’ve woven a nest of professional friends who know and respect you, and are willing to help you out. And that’s arguably even better than seeing your face on an ad.
By Stephanie Hanna, Esq. and Jacob H. Levine, Esq.
From “Young Lawyers Connect: Leadership and Networking: Building Your Career”
Take action! Fulfill your three hours of instruction requirement and learn more practice management tools by joining Young Lawyer Connect on Dec. 5.