Doing It Right: Networking
Networking is one of the common terms used in businesses, the legal field inclusive. Often time, you hear top guns advising associates to try to build a network of people to make them stand out. But it is quite ironic that practicing lawyers most times will nod in approval to this advice but will prefer to stay away from following it. They see it as a ground to which people will get to know them, their flaws, and might even find something about them repulsive and this scares them away from it more than ever.
While they are not to be entirely blame for this, as there are various misconceptions about networking. It is important to understand the difference between passing out a business card at social events and taking the time to meet and get to know those around you.
You must keep in mind that the keyword in networking is mutual. So, anytime you meet with family, friends, colleagues or strangers, the proper way to build a network and create a bond is by saying things that will not only project who you are but how the two of you can help each other either personally or professionally.
In a way, what you do in networking is putting all you can do to help others on the table and the person does the same so the two of you can know what can be benefitted in your relationship. While you might be taught law in college and university, in the outside world, it takes a little more than that to be a lawyer. It’s about two humans meeting to discuss how they can be of help to each other. The help at first might not be on legal assistance but be sure that such relationship will pay off in ways that you might not have thought of the first time.
Another thing to note is that networking is not an act, it’s a process, and it needs time, patience and active participation. So to get the best of this useful technique to boost your career in the legal field, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone and take the “I am too busy to care” excuse off your list of things to say. Why? Because in the real sense of it, no one grows in their comfort zone and yes! there is always time to do things that will help you as an attorney – networking is one of it.
With a strong network, the answer to a grey area in your case can just be a phone call away, saving you a lot of time of searching through hours of information to get it by yourself. Aside from this, it is one of the fastest and easiest way to enlarge your client base, numbers is key in making it out there.
What sets an excellent lawyer apart from a good one is the speed in securing important information and you tend to enjoy this head start when you have a wide network to get information from. While you might wonder if you need salesman’s skill to pull this off, it should be noted that salesman pitch their product so people can buy but networking is having a nice conversation with someone and informing them you are an attorney whose firm offers a wide range of services. Hence, providing information is way different from selling services.
In addition to this, networking is not as hard as you might have been thinking about it. Although it’s totally understood that you are going out of your comfort zone to widen your client base through networking. Doing it is as easy as striking a conversation with someone in line to get a cup of coffee. We are social beings so making conversations should come naturally to us.
Nevertheless, to commence, it’s advisable to start with people that you already know. This will loosen you up, allow you to get a hang of it and it’s also the best way to start your contact list. Some prospects to consider are; friends, family, neighbors, people from past jobs, and even other attorneys.
After making such a list, set your priorities on the list and fix a causal hang out with them. When you do this, some might turn down the offer, but don’t let that dampen your spirit, working with those that responded will set you on the right road.
Having done this, you might need help on how to go about making the most of networking which is why you will need to follow these tips as they are not just the basics but also the back bone for networking:
- Create A Definite Time To Network: To have consistency and enhance your commitment to network, you need to have a defined time out of your month dedicated to visiting places where you can network. This on the long run will make you network effortlessly. But make sure that the time you are setting is realistic.
- Be A Good Listener: Everyone has a story; a tale that they just want people to hear. Be a platform for them to say what is on their mind and that will help you find ways you may connect more with them. The key is to listen more than you talk.
- Always Follow Up: This is a way of telling your network that you have them in mind even where they are not physically present. Remember days that are important to them and make a gesture to show you know them well. Regular communication goes a long way.
- Show Enthusiasm: People can see through you. So, if you don’t love what you do, others will notice your indifference.
- Know the Difference between Confident and Arrogance: There is a thin line between coming out as a confident lawyer and being arrogant. Learn this and people will be impressed by how you project yourself and your firm.
- Patience Is Key: Patience is a virtue that can never be overemphasized, Rome wasn’t built in a day and your relationships won’t be either. Take your time in building your network; it is not how fast that matters but how well.