The dreaded networking event

A common piece of marketing advice is that it is important to "network." For many attorneys, though, the mere mention of the word networking sends shivers down their spine. It conjures up bad memories of feeling isolated and uncomfortable at large parties in high school.

Of course there are some lawyers who thrive on being out and about and who enjoy meeting new people in large social situations. And for those lawyers, attending networking functions can certainly help to build relationships (which can lead to direct business or referrals).

But for the rest of us, walking into a big room at a trade association event is nerve-racking, especially if we are unlikely to know many people at the event.

The good news is that attending large events is not a must when you are trying to build your practice. Networking is often more effective when done at the "retail level."

Going out to lunch with individuals who are potential clients and referral sources is networking too. So is going out for coffee or just scheduling a brief meeting at someone's office. In fact, for most of us, it is probably the best form of networking. Meeting one on one (or two on two), is a much better way to ensure that you have the chance to have a real conversation with someone and find ways to be helpful to them. It is a better way to be strategic in who you spend your time with and it gives you the chance to be more prepared (i.e. because you have an opportunity to do some homework before you meet with the individual).

There are many ways to build a referral network. The important thing is to choose those activities that you enjoy. If you like golf, by all means, spend time on the golf course with prospects you want to cultivate. If you enjoy nonprofit work, get involved with a board for an organization that interests you. Large events provide an opportunity to see a lot of people. But don't be afraid to think beyond these events. In the end, buying coffee for people on a regular basis might be the kind networking that works best for you.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, director of attorney recruitment and career advancement, Marc Z Legal Staffing and president, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.


Published September 26, 2013


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