3 Steps to Network Your Law Firm on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is all about making business connections and luckily for you, there are several great tools on the site that makes networking on this platform a breeze. Once you have your profile in place and have made sure all the information is up to date, that you have some blog posts connected to it, and have added a video or two, you are set to network. Here are the three key steps you need to take:

Step 1: Have LinkedIn import your address book and search your email account.

The site will then suggest some connections based on who you already know. Send those suggested connections a connection request and you are on your way.

Step 2: Find and connect with potential clients.

  • Search by industry first to see if you already have any connections at companies you are targeting for potential new business.

  • If you find that you have a first-degree connection to a prospective client, call or email your first-degree connection and ask them to make an introduction.

  • If the connections you find are further down the scale (2nd or 3rd tier connections), use the InMail feature to invite those people to connect with you. Customize your request to provide context for the connection.

  • Be sure you have opted in to LinkedIn alerts for all your connections. Once you receive an alert that someone you’re connected with has published an article or has a new job, send them an email to reconnect and rekindle the relationship.

  • If you receive an alert that someone has viewed your profile who could be a potential new client, send that person an InMail message asking if you can help.

Step 3: Cultivate new referral sources.

  • Find LinkedIn groups that match up with your practice area and join them. Participating in these groups helps drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile page.

  • Showcase your expertise by starting your own LinkedIn group and inviting your connections to join.

  • Post blogs, articles, firm announcements, press releases, videos on your profile page and in your groups.

  • Examine your client’s networks to see if there are any potential prospects you’d like to be introduced to and then ask your current or former client if they would be a referral source for you.

Once you get the hang of how things work on LinkedIn — and how easy it is to connect — you will find that it is ripe for networking successfully. And you don’t even have to leave home or the office to do it!

This post was written by Stephen Fairley of The Rainmaker Institute, All Rights Reserved ©
For more legal analysis, go to The National Law Review

Networking Pitfalls- Falling for the Wrong People

effective networking, law studentsOver the past 10 – 15 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people actively focusing on networking. Increasing competition, along with more widespread attention on building a strong network, is encouraging lawyers to flock to networking functions in droves. However, this can be an especially difficult challenge for an attorney to simultaneously balance the billable hour with a devotion to developing a book of business.

To help drive your efficiencies with networking, I’ve categorized business networkers into three groups. In addition to identifying which group you might belong to, it’s important to quickly identify which group others fit into as well. Detecting which group the person you’re speaking with falls into can make or break your results when networking.

Networker Type 1: The Taker

A “Taker” is an individual who attends numerous events and racks up an imposing collection of names and business cards as a way to push appointments and close sales. Unfortunately, these sometimes-aggressive creatures can burn enough people that word “gets around” and ultimately helps to dissolve their reputations. You may even start to observe people physically positioning themselves away from a Taker at consecutive events. Although avoidance seems an appropriate strategy, the Taker should not be dismissed outright. For some people, simply obtaining new sales (however generated) is and always will be their focus.

Perhaps a compassionate view toward seemingly aggressive Takers is the best way to view them. After all, many entrepreneurs require sales quotas of their employees to retain their jobs as a strategy to keep the business viable. Some Takers simply haven’t been taught the art of networking, or are confused on how best to utilize networking in order to achieve long-term results.

That being said, if you can detect a Taker early on at an event, try to avoid the next step: the one-on-one meeting. This is where you schedule a time to meet for coffee or lunch after the initial networking event where you met with a potential business connection. If you find yourself inadvertently ensnared in a meeting with a Taker, this meeting can make for a rough few hours consisting of a sales pitch for the Taker’s product or service, whether you have a need for it or not. It could also turn into a “name grab” by the new acquaintance for the names of your contacts so that he or she can make a sales pitch to them. Run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. We’ve all been there and it’s not fun.

Networker Type 2: The Apparent Giver

The Apparent Giver is the most common networker type. Apparent Givers are those people who, sometime during their careers, have heard and taken very much to heart the concept that “givers gain” or “give to get” as a mantra relating to networking. They believe they understand how to network and think of themselves as major players in the networking game, but often they miss the boat on the important component of follow-through.

Where Apparent Givers stumble is in failing to execute the promises they’ve made to new contacts in an effort to gain their trust. While an Apparent Giver may actually have altruistic intentions in the beginning, promises are worthless if the networker doesn’t follow up and carry out the pledge made to the new contact. Some Apparent Givers become too distracted by other commitments and simply forget to act on their earlier promises. Some with less philanthropic motives may drop the ball when they realize the new contact may not be able to immediately reciprocate. For most people in this age of information overload, if something isn’t scheduled and written down, it probably won’t happen.

The most obvious downside to turning into an Apparent Giver is that failure to follow through will tarnish your reputation if you come to be viewed as someone who doesn’t act on a pledge to a new contact. On the receiving end of the networking exchange, Apparent Givers present a distraction from your ultimate goal of disqualifying this contact type as a potential strategic partner due to empty promises.

Networker Type 3: The True Giver

The ultimate networking aspiration is to become a True Giver and to seek to interact with others of this type. True Givers understand the “big picture” when it comes to networking. This networker’s mantra is “I’ll give selflessly, regardless of what’s in it for me personally.”

As a busy attorney, you’re probably concerned with the amount of time it would take to help everyone you encounter. Even if you had only five short coffee meetings in a month, it might be problematic to then make one quality introduction for each. That’s why being a True Giver has to be balanced with a deliberate process.

First and foremost, remember that you don’t have to meet with everyone you encounter at a networking event. Try to qualify the best people for you to meet and possibly refer to another connection and then focus in on quality connections.

Second, don’t feel obligated to promise referrals for every person you meet. Not everyone is worthy of your “endorsement” by way of an introduction to another one of the contacts you’ve nurtured. It’s fairly easy to disqualify Takers and industry non-experts as people not to make pledges to or introduce to others.

Finally, while of course the Golden Rule tells us we should be nice to everyone, you should focus your networking energy on helping those people you identify as True Givers and those who appear to have the ability to be a strong strategic partner over the long haul. If time is money, then let’s invest time, energy and referrals on the true givers with whom we can have a long-term reciprocal relationship.

Copyright @ 2016 Sales Results, Inc.

Why Law Schools Must Change to Produce More Hirable Attorneys

effective networking, law students

Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking at a Chicago Bar Association event for young attorneys on the topic of networking. After about 20 minutes I observed how ravenously everyone was taking notes and the deep level of attentiveness that I was receiving from the participants. While this is not unique to me as a speaker in the legal space, there was something different in the eyes of audience. Fear.

Once the program concluded, I stuck around to chat with the attendees to better understand their mindset.  A few of the comments were, “I have no idea how to network and am just trying to put myself out there.” And, “They never taught me any of this in law school.”  One first-year lawyer even remembered an adjunct professor saying, “If you’re not networking, you’re not working.” The same lawyer then thanked me for my presentation where I explained and demonstrated different ways to actually do it.

Over the past 10 years I have spoken at a number of young attorney events, but the fear and confusion on this day was palpable. For over 200 years, law schools have focused on teaching the law in order to produce scholarly advocates to protect the rights of his or her clients.  There was never a need to teach networking or how to run a solo practice because lawyers were employed at firms where the sole focus was gaining experience as a lawyer. There was also an abundance of opportunities to get a job.

In economics, we all learned about supply and demand. In the case of the legal space today, the supply of lawyers is overtaking the demand. Especially in the case of the new grads and younger lawyers.  With the legal landscape changing, it would only make sense that the law schools must change as well.  One attorney I interviewed was even involved in a 2014 ISBA report that demonstrated with clarity that law schools just aren’t preparing their students for the challenging legal marketplace that currently exists.

Fortunately, I did uncover that there are some adjunct professors and internal programs that mention and discuss networking with their students, but it’s just not enough. Networking is a learned skill that involves planning and processes to gain traction and ensure positive results. These skills can be used for the job search, deciding to go solo or to be used as an ongoing activity to grow a book of business once you’ve gained enough experience.  Even the simple skill of asking questions and listening to someone’s answers will be critical to a lawyer’s ongoing success and sustainability.

If a law school was to engage its students in a course on effective networking, here are three core elements that I believe should be included:

  • Element #1: Learn how to write a plan.  All law school students need to learn how to develop a written plan for finding a job or going out on their own.  They say, “Failing to plan is a plan to fail.” It is imperative that students learn how to develop and write a plan to better prepare for any eventuality. If the job market were tight, it would be helpful to have developed inside connections to find a good firm or company to work for. If there were struggles to find the right job, then developing a plan to partner with other solo’s to develop some business would be valuable. Whatever the situation, ones ability to develop a plan will be the break-through moment for someone wanting a career in the legal space.
  • Element #2: You’re young, learn how to use social media. In the age of anytime information and promotion, anyone can use social media to improve their ability to find a job or increase exposure in the marketplace. LinkedIn for example allows its users to connect on the site and find inside connections that normally would be hidden. For example, if we were friends and connected on LinkedIn, you could search through my connections to see the wide variety of general counsels and hiring lawyers that I know. Asking me for an inside channel into these contacts is infinitely more effective than sending out cold resumes to job postings or firms you are interested in.
  • Element #3: Learn the basics or you will destroy your free time. As someone who has killed hundreds of hours by networking inefficiently, I can attest to the importance of structure and processes to follow when networking. These methodologies can be found through books, firm mentors or teachers like myself. For many attorneys in school this would be important because it’s not about whom you know anymore but rather how you leverage the relationships with whom you know. Failure to properly give and receive value in a structured way within your network can lead to countless unproductive hours at events and coffee meetings.  While it’s true that relationships take time, how much time and with whom you invest is in question.

Whether you are currently enrolled in law school, a recent grad or someone who is billing 2000 hours a year for someone else’s clients at your firm, learning to plan and execute on your networking has never been more important. I know that the law schools today are aware of the need for networking classes, but they just haven’t fully committed to the idea. My hope is that with further awareness and forward-thinking deans, graduates will be better equipped to acquire the jobs they are looking for.

Copyright @ 2016 Sales Results, Inc.

Want to Build Business? Here’s How to Be a Better Networker

Few would argue that networking always has been and likely always will be an important aspect of building and maintaining a successful law practice. Networking is how lawyers connect with prospective clients and referral sources, build trust and loyalty, and develop the types of individual relationships that can lead to new business.

It’s also time-consuming and, for most of us, not particularly easy or fun.

So, it is not surprising that more and more busy lawyers have embraced social media and digital marketing to expand their network of contacts. While these tools give us a platform for making connections on a large scale, the relationships we develop this way typically are not as deep as those we nurture through in-person contact.

6 Lawyer Networking FAQS

When coaching attorneys on their business development activities, I frequently am asked for pointers for how to make in-person networking less time-consuming and more effective. Answers to a few key questions can put this into perspective.

1. It seems there are events I could attend nearly every day. How do I know which are the best?

Revisit your goals. The best events are those that help you reach your marketing and business development goals. If you are looking to raise your profile in a particular industry, attend events where people involved in the industry will be. If you want to cement your relationship with a key client, ask them which events they would recommend you attend to learn more about their business or their industry. If you are a younger attorney who needs to develop a profile and a network, attend as many different types of events as you can.

Review attendee lists. Some events will make the attendee list available in advance of the meeting. Request a copy, and review it to get an idea of whether there are people attending who would be worth meeting. If the event is predominantly attended by people you already know or those whose positions or employers are not in your business development “sweet spot,” you may want to find another event, unless, of course, you can use the event to hone your networking skills. An event where less is at stake can make you feel more comfortable.

Remember why you’re there. You network to develop relationships, which takes time and goes beyond one brief conversation. The best professional networking groups operate as business information, idea and support exchanges, providing opportunity for you to really get to know someone. Sometimes, this might be more easily accomplished by attending a meet-up of a group of people with the same hobbies than through a bar association meeting.

2. Most of these events last a couple of hours. How do I make sure I am not wasting my time?

Set three attainable goals. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed because there are 500 people attending a convention in one of your targeted industries. Go into the event with a few attainable goals, such as meeting specific individuals, meeting five new people, speaking with the host or chairperson about assisting with a future event, introducing a colleague to one of your contacts, or meeting a high-profile speaker.

Set a realistic time limit. Instead of feeling as though you have to stay for the duration of the event, take some of the pressure off by committing to being engaged for one hour, or some other realistic and comfortable period of time. Not only will this keep you fresh and engaged, you are more likely to attend more events if you set boundaries on the amount of time you commit.

3. I find it difficult to initiate a conversation with a stranger. How do I start?

Arrive early. If you get there early, the room will walk into you, whereas if you walk in late, people will already be mid-conversation when you arrive.

Look for an opportunity to engage someone. If the room is crowded and there seem to be many conversations underway, look for people who are standing alone. One-on-one may be more comfortable and can make for effective networking.

Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know anyone there. Approach a group with a smile on your face, and simply ask, “May I join you?” No one ever replies, “No, we don’t want you.”

4. What do I talk about? If I don’t know someone well, it can be a challenge to find something to discuss.

Your primary job is to listen. The worst thing you can do when networking is turn it into a sales pitch. Networking should be about building a quick rapport – it should be informal, brief, interesting and leave people wanting to know more. People bond over commonalities. Sales pitches have the opposite effect.

Build a bank of conversation starters. Catching up on current events and being knowledgeable in a variety of general topics will help you make meaningful contributions to conversations.

Follow the event on social media. Many organizations will set up a Twitter feed with a specific hashtag as a way to share information about the event and engage attendees in discussion before and after.

5. I know I shouldn’t talk to the same few people the entire time. How do I make a graceful exit from a conversation?

It’s OK, indeed, appropriate to move on. Unless the conversation is very promising, plan to spend no more than four to six minutes with any one individual. After that, you should be prepared to move on. You also don’t want to take up too much of the other person’s time. They are there for the same reasons you are. Remember, you feel more uncomfortable about leaving the interaction than the other person. It’s acceptable to say that you have to make a phone call, get a drink, go to the restroom or say hello to someone you haven’t seen.

Make an introduction. Offer to introduce someone you’ve met to someone else you met or know in the room. This allows you to gracefully move on while also helping others expand their network.

Glass half full. Literally. Carry a half glass of beverage and order only half a glass of beverage to more easily facilitate separation.

6. I attended four events this month. Why haven’t I gotten any new work?

Relationships take time. It takes time for people to have confidence in you and form a relationship with you. You cannot expect someone to send you work just because they met you at an event. Instead, focus on investing in others. Find ways to be helpful, provide information, tell them of an opportunity that might interest them or introduce them to others beneficial to their own network. The rest will come.

Follow up, and keep at it. If you have followed your networking plan for the event, you are on your way to developing a relationship. That said, you should not consider the event to be “over” until you have followed up. Send an email to those you met, following up on your conversation or providing information you promised to send. If you would like to develop a stronger relationship with a few particular people you met, consider giving them a call rather than sending an email.

The key to successful networking is to remember that you are building real, deep relationships with your contacts. What good is a network full of people who don’t know you very well? The more you foster trust and rapport with those you meet, the more you can begin forging new avenues of business.

ARTICLE BY Joi Scardo of Jaffe
© Copyright 2008-2015, Jaffe Associates

New Social Network for Attorneys Now Online

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A new social network for attorneys – Foxwordy – has now launched and is offering any lawyer who is “an innovator and influencer in the legal industry” a free three-month membership to what its founder is calling an “invitation-only private social-networking platform brings together relevant top-tier legal colleagues to efficiently collaborate in real-time.”

Lawyer Attorney Social Media

It appears that this new site is aimed at creating a new attorney-to-attorney referral platform.  Foxwordy founder Monica Zent said that the site provides a way for attorneys to gain a peer validated reputation and encourages collaborations that would normally happen via the phone, in person or by email.

Some of the site’s features include:

  • Real-time collaboration with other lawyers working on common issues
  • Ability for attorneys to share best practices and language for legal documents
  • Listing of job opportunities similar to LinkedIn

Zent says there are currently 1,000 members on the website that is now out of beta.  The network will not be available to the public; it is designed solely as a website for attorneys to share information and collaborate, and membership is by invitation only.  You provide your name and email address on the home page to request an invitation.

It was unclear on the site how you are vetted for membership; since the site’s revenue model is based on subscriptions alone ($10 per month), I was guessing that the bar isn’t set too high.  And I was proven right after I had one of my non-attorney staff members enter her name and Gmail address, and she received a congratulatory email minutes later on her acceptance.

I’d be interested to hear from attorneys who sign up and participate on this new social network for lawyers – what are you finding of most value for your practice from this new social media tool?

Article by:

Stephen Fairley

Of:

The Rainmaker Institute

Build Better Relationships in 2014

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While social media, mobile advertising, content creation and blogs are important in your new year’s marketing efforts, building strong relationships with clients and potential clients is still your most important marketing tactic. Don’t neglect this foundation of your marketing efforts. Make relationship building an integral part of your 2014 marketing plan.

build better relationships in 2014

How do you go about building better relationships with clients and potential clients? The key is to communicate and communicate often! But all forms of communication are not equal. Let’s break down the ideal process for building a communication strategy that will lead to stronger relationships with clients and potential clients.

Understand Your Ideal Client:

First and foremost – know who you are targeting. Spend some time looking at your client list. Are there common attributes? What types of cases are you looking for? What types of information are important to potential clients? Or is there a practice area you are looking to expand or start? Now think about what types of information you provide or what types of information would be valuable for each type of client. Today’s consumers are driven by information. Providing highly personalized content directly to the right audience will give your firm the opportunity for direct engagement with potential clients.

How Will You Communicate?

Technological advances mean you have multiple ways to communicate to your audience? Ideally you should leverage more than one to get your message heard. Social media, blogging, and email marketing form a trifecta that attorneys can use to distribute content without having to develop individual messaging for each. This trifecta will allow you to reach not only new prospects (through social media and blogging) but current clients and contacts that are also an important marketing opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked. Clients may have need or may have contacts within their sphere of influence that have need for legal representation.

If you haven’t already, develop an email marketing list of all your contacts, clients, former clients and referral sources. This will be the basis of the marketing list you will use for email communications. Simultaneously, create a blog (wordpress is fairly easy) and sign up for Twitter and LinkedIn.

Develop An Editorial Calendar:

Now that you understand what your potential clients are looking for and how you will communicate, develop a content list of what you want to write and a schedule (at least 3 months out, but a full 12 months would be even better) for when you will send each article. Once you have your topics laid out you will have a schedule that will be easier for you to maintain moving forward.

Note that more content does not necessarily mean its better! Some attorneys we work with have avoided developing a content strategy primarily because of time constraints – assuming that every article needs to be a treatise on the law. This isn’t the case. You can create compelling content in 1500 words or less that is easily digestible for the average reader. Ideally your content should be informative and conversational, engaging readers and provoking them to want to find out more information or share what they have read with others. Attorneys – this means skip the legalese as much as possible and write content that is easy to understand for the lay person.

Once you have written the article it can be emailed to your contacts, posted to your blog and shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. This allows you to get maximum exposure for every article you write.

Staying in regular contact with your clients and potential clients by providing them with valuable information builds trust, stronger relationships and loyalty.

When settling into 2014 and preparing your marketing strategy, it is important to understand what your potential client’s needs are. Building relationships and providing informative, engaging content is the key to continued success.

Article by:

Anush Alexander

Of:

RW Lynch Company, Inc.