For busy commercial lawyers, taking time to attend networking events might seem easier said than done. So how do you ensure you get the best shots of your networking efforts? First, of course, you can master the art of bringing up conversations, but if you want to get your image and brand out there, we advise you to take your efforts further.
We have put together these legal networking tips to help you do that, including advice for preparing and attending events and beyond. Whether you are networking with fellow commercial lawyers or attending non-legal events relevant to your practice area, these tips will surely set you up for success.
How To Succeed At Legal Networking
1. Do your prep work
If you approach a lawyer networking event like an obligatory annoyance and do minimal prep work, your results aren’t great. But before going to a legal-associated networking event, prepare for the session ahead. Ask yourself: What is the demographic going to be like? Is this an event for commercial lawyers? Investigate the topic that will be discussed, if it is a seminar or someone is giving a lecture, and research the event a little so you can talk about everything confidently later. It will probably be more engaging than saying, “So, what’s new in this event?”
2. Have a line ready
When anyone asks who you practice, be ready with a short but detailed answer. This line should be enough to get the discussion flowing and to help everyone you meet to figure out if and how the people can help you and vice versa. For example, if a person asks who you are, you might want to say that you are a commercial lawyer focusing mainly on divorces. What if you also prepare critical questions to ask other legal practitioners when networking? For instance, “What are the biggest challenges at your law firm? What have you found works best for commercial lawyers like us?”
3. Remember, It is not about you; it is about them
If you want to experience delightful interactions where the other professional is fully engaged, don’t do the networking all about yourself.
That is true of any conversation, especially at a lawyer networking event where the purpose is to create mutually beneficial relationships. Ask what the other commercial lawyer does and what clients they help. These conversations will help refer clients beyond your practice area to lawyers you have networked with.
After all, you are more likely to get referrals from a lawyer you are e referred clients to. Additionally, it’s valuable to know skilled lawyers in other practice areas. These excellent connections make it easy for you to refer clients confidently. Referrals are another way to get more people who need legal advice. Even if they don’t use your services, they will likely remember their positive and continuous interaction with your referral. Eventually, every interaction is an opportunity to provide a client-centred experience and build your brand.
4. Don’t just do it only when you need to
For commercial lawyers, networking is a continuous process, so make it an essential part of your life. Continuously network, go to premium events, and meet new people. It is a skill you build that needs to be refined constantly—and if it is any consolation, it will get easier. Build on your expertise and skills by attending local legal-oriented events or industry-leading conferences where smaller networking events are broken out by different areas or practice areas of interest. Making lawyer networking a habit also becomes less tedious, even for introverted people.
5. Follow up
Suppose you meet another prolific commercial lawyer who might send you business, follow up with them. People meet hundreds of other legal professionals, which means that unless you have a 3D business card, it will get lost in the shuffle. Even if you are highly talented at having great and memorable discussions with everyone you meet, following up with an instant email will cement your acquaintances’ memory of you and help you begin cultivating that relationship.
6. Online legal networking groups
In our digital world, networking is no longer limited to in-person events. Commercial lawyer networking websites and community hubs such as The Law Community can benefit commercial lawyers in diverse ways. Online legal networking websites and groups can offer professional assistance, help you stay up-to-the-minute with industry trends, and help you to connect with other legal professionals.
7. Get involved in the local community
As mentioned earlier, you need to build a regional reputation. It is an essential factor contributing to your business development strategy. However, your relationships in your community will be meaningful as well.
8. Be seen and heard
Attorney networking and business development are essential: building relationships and being accessible. “You must cultivate relationships consistently. But you also need to be heard and seen so that people remember you when they need a commercial lawyer.”
9. Go up and down for clients to earn more work
Meeting people is the first step in business development. The grit and gristle come in finding ways to cultivate healthy relationships as issues come up. To stand out, you must do good work—and provide a client-centred experience.
You have to go up and down for people. That is how they remember you. Anyone can hire someone to do a job, but if you take it in a way that surpasses their expectations, that is where people start to talk.
On A Final Note
Most commercial lawyers get 40% of their new clients from referrals every year; If you want more new clients from referrals, it is best to provide an easy way for other commercial lawyers and past clients to recommend you.
Make sure your friends and family have business cards they can hand out, but also make it easy for them to explain how to find you online. If they are out of cards, they will likely tell your potential clients to look for you online, so ensure you get a user-friendly website that puts your best strength forward.