Over the last few years all sorts of wonderful things have happened to marketing. Direct mail gave way to fax marketing which gave way to e-marketing which gave way to content marketing, social media, pay-per-click, ad words and all manner of other electronic black magic.
Some lawyers mistakenly saw all of this as an excuse to finally extricate themselves from business development. After all, if all of this is being pumped out every day, why would you need to do any business development? Surely now you can just get on with doing the work?
The provision of legal services has always been based upon relationships and while all of these new initiatives/technologies can maintain your profile between matters once you’ve established a relationship, they will never be able to create relationships. This is where networking comes in.
Networking allows you to meet new people and to keep up with the people you already know. It allows you to establish the dialogue and the (apologies for the psycho-speak) trust that will persuade the people you meet to give you their legal work in the future. It provides the perfect platform from which to achieve your number one objective – keep meeting new people and just get on with them.
Contrary to popular opinion, showcasing your skills isn’t about the technical, it’s about the personal. You need to establish a personal connection and find common ground you can use to keep the conversation going after your initial meeting until the point where your contact is comfortable to either give you work or introduce you to someone who might.
This is the part some can feel less than comfortable with. Years of training has taught us that we need to remain objective and one step removed if we are to provide solid professional advice. I wouldn’t disagree but networking isn’t about providing solid professional advice, it’s about making a connection. Be prepared to give a little of yourself to make sure you are making those connections.
Early in my career I was given two brilliant pointers to help me make that personal connection whilst networking (I was never a natural and am still not what you’d call an enthusiast):
Football, family and holidays are umbrellas that cover the mainstays of people’s lives outside work. Instead of indulging in the hopelessly unattractive practice of delivering your over-rehearsed elevator script, just ask who you’re talking to nice open questions about them until you find some common ground.
2 Front and back
Before you go to an event have a quick look at the front and back pages of the newspaper in your reception. That’ll give you a refresher on current affairs and sports so you sound informed should either come up (as they usually do) while you’re out networking.
Now you always have something to talk about. The next question is where do you use those tips?
The simple answer is you use them at the vehicle/s that are you are most comfortable with and that are most likely to be attended by the people you want as clients. Next time we’ll look at how to make sure you are choosing the right groups and events for you so you can be yourself and bypass the awkward, anodyne notion of ‘working the room’.
If you would like two more tips to help you improve your efficiency at networking events or would like to schedule a free 20 minute telephone call to talk through any aspect of marketing or BD, please email me and we can find a time.