As young professionals, it should – in theory – be easy for us to network with one another. Many organizations create fertile opportunities by hosting events – usually at bars – where we can meet, not only other attorneys, but also other professionals.
Whether you are a solo attorney, are part of a small firm, or an associate in a goliath firm, new business is good business. The importance of being social, and sociable, cannot be overstated.
Once people like you in a social setting, approaching you regarding business is second nature. But this is not without effort.
It is vital that when you network, you really network. This absolutely cannot be accomplished by drinking some beers and trading cards. Genuine networking with other professionals is whiskey on a Thursday evening. It’s a round of Top Golf between firms on an idle Sunday afternoon. Or a group lunch at that new Mediterranean place in midtown.
Genuine networking with other professionals is whiskey on a Thursday evening. It’s a round of Top Golf between firms on an idle Sunday afternoon. Or a group lunch at that new Mediterranean place in midtown.
True networking requires continuous social interaction that demonstrates two things: (1) you’re not a jerk, (2) you’re intelligent enough to be trusted with their business, their clients, their money, and their reputation. It is ridiculously easy to trade cards and walk away. It takes
It is ridiculously easy to trade cards and walk away. It takes effort to have lunch twice a month, or play tennis every few weeks. It requires discipline. And discipline always pays off in the end.
Of considerable importance is engagement in activities that maximize networking potential. It would be easy to say “golf, tennis, hunting, or drinking”. However, it is vital that you find places to go, things to do, groups to join, that allow for legitimate interaction to expose yourself to the best networking possibilities out there.
This can be a double-edged sword depending on your goals. Are you trying to engage the professionals you already know in a social setting so you can really get to know one another? Or are you trying to find and meet new professionals and exchange information, business points, and explain operational goals?
Activities that cover both of the above goals would likely include community services, parties and advertised networking events, or even volunteering – church, rodeo, health care volunteer centers, etc. Find an activity with like-minded people and start from there. Common ground is solid ground.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, network consistently with professionals outside of your profession.
Lawyers cannot only associate with other lawyers, just as engineers cannot only associate with other engineers. Homogeneous networking creates stagnation, and stagnation breeds loss of opportunity and limits your chances to advance. To make matters worse, most lawyers can be the jealous type – why should they network with someone that might steal away their potential cases?
Find other professionals who are mentally engaging, interesting, and may even directly associate with your work. It is vital to consistently network and engage with people outside of your profession to expose yourself to diverse issues and viewpoints, and to ensure that the law doesn’t suffocate you 24/7.
As acquaintances, they may send you cases. As friends, they may need your help one day. My best friend is in oil & gas. My other friends are in marketing, finance, real estate, and the military. Few and far between are my lawyer-friends, and they don’t even share the same focus in practice.
Diversify your circle of colleagues, and know that such diversity is a strength that only multiplies your ability to grow your business, and grow as a person. Small and solo firms should always arm themselves with force multipliers. For today’s lesson, our force multiplier is diversified networking.