via Forbes: I practiced corporate law for 11 years before I transitioned into management (and ultimately taking a big leap into marketing, consulting and startups five or so years later). I’m intimately familiar with the pressures lawyers are under (i.e. deadlines imposed by the client or court, billable hour targets imposed by the firm, pro bono and other “non-billable” requirements set by the governing bodies of the profession) and the need for lawyers to act like entrepreneurs.
Yes, I included “entrepreneurs” and “lawyers” in the same sentence.
The path to partnership in the legal industry is not paved simply with skill, hard work and a burning desire to grab the brass ring of partnership: joining a partnership requires a business case. Law is a business – not just a profession – and to be a successful one, business development and client relationship development needs to be a core daily activity. As I note on page 45 of my book, Build Your Dream Network:
“Networking should not be considered the “other” activity you’ll get to or make a priority when you “have more time.” Even if work demands being at your desk 24-7, there are micro- chances to network in meaningful ways , and they can be as simple as writing a short note.”
The case-study that follows (in the book) illustrates the key point: how by writing a simple note (seeking more information) to enclose with a charitable donation check, opened doors for business development for one attorney. By the way, those opportunities extended throughout her entire legal career (and together with taking thoughtful micro-networking actions daily) laid the foundation for her post-law encore career).
What are the ways you’re interacting day in and day out with your colleagues, clients, other professionals and industry partners? Rather than stressing over all the things you can’t find time to do – start reframing those overlooked or routine or annoying daily activities as relationship building opportunities and begin focusing on what you can do just a little bit better to enhance your relationships (along with your reputation as a trusted advisor or go-to person in the profession).
To get you started (especially if you’re a lawyer or comparable professional services firm type), I’ve listed just a few ideas on overlooked or routine work activities that can boost your networking efforts. And why not make the effort! You’re undertaking all or many of these activities already!
How many emails are you sending out each day? Too many is likely your answer, however this endless transmission of information is networking (i.e. a change to enhance or start building a relationship with someone else). Google your name and chances are, your firm bio or LinkedIn profile will come up first – emphasis on the word “first” as in first impression with a potential new client or reinforcing the impression an existing client has of you. Follow these 20 suggestions to boost your networking (without leaving your desk or having to “work the room”) :
- Include in your email signature line all the ways you want to be reached.
- Regularly review (and update) the bio you’ve provided for inclusion on your firm’s website.
- Check the bio you use for awards and/or speaking activities – and consider customizing it for each requrest.
- Ensure your headshot is current – regardless of how good you looked when your career started or how much you hate having your picture taken.
- Seek out opportunities to contribute to the firm’s newsletter.
- Forward “client alerts” with a personal note to bring the information to the attention of the desired recipient (aka client).
- Contribute your thought-leadership to industry publications (to give your expertise a greater change to benefit from word-of-mouth referrals).
- Create (if you haven’t done so) a Holiday Card or Ecard mailing list.
- Grow (if you already have one) your Holiday Card or Ecard mailing list.
- Update your LinkedIn profile (including your profile picture).
- Post periodic updates on Linkedin (heck, it’s a great place to share firm newsletters, industry alerts and upcoming speaking engagements).
- Connect with clients and those you’ve met at industry events or trainings on Linkedin – by writing a personal note not simply relying on the standard “I’d like to connect” messaging provided by the platform.
- Revise your Not-For-Profit board profile or bio (if you sit on one of these boards) to highlight more than simply your passion for the cause. Boards are a chance to diversify your network – recognize it and take advantage of it.
- Include on your bio and LinkedIn profile any Not-For-Profit committee (i.e. Gala, Hosts) positions as personal interests are often the ways we make the strongest human connections.
- Complete and/or update your membership profile on any professional organization, industry and/or alumni directories.
- Review your business card information.
- Listen to then change (if necessary) your voicemail message. Do you sound like the type of person a someone would want to hand their biggest business challenges to?
- Leverage your out-of-office or vacation email responder as a connection tool with clients.
- Set Google Alerts for key clients or targeted industry happenings as being the first to send a “congratulations on the new role” or “just read that…” email will solidify a connection (and may land you a new project).
- Periodically review your calendar, paying close attention to calls or meetings with clients, closing dinners, industry trainings and give some thought to reaching out (or following up with) people you interacted with.