The legal job market is fiercely competitive. Learning to network can mean the difference between success and failure. Developing your networking skills can help you advance your career and grow a steady book of business that will give you constant job security. Here are seven steps to take to become a networking star.
1. Meet attorneys in different specialties. Get to know attorneys in every legal specialty. Aside from being potential employers themselves, attorneys will know other attorneys to whom they can introduce you (if they like you). Attorneys are a great source of referral business for other attorneys. Look for lawyers who you think your clients will like. When your clients need a specialized attorney in a different area of practice than yours, you want to make sure they will be comfortable with your referral.
2. Meet professionals in diverse fields. Potential clients come from all walks of life. The people you meet may become potential clients, a lead to a potential client, or someone with whom you will work in the future, e.g., as an expert witness or consultant. Knowing different types of professionals will help you introduce your business connections to other people who will be helpful to their respective businesses. A good stress-free way to meet people is to offer your time to a community service organization, public law center, or charity.
3. Do something nice for people you like. Are you afraid to network because you don’t want to “sell” yourself and you can’t stand the idea of being rejected? Forget about “selling” yourself. You’ll get business from others when you’re focused on what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. Consider making an introduction, sending information of value, or helping market your new contact.
4. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you promise to send an article to your contact or to make an introduction, do it at the same time you send a thank-you note. Nothing is more impressive to a new contact than consistent follow-up. It establishes immediate credibility with your new contact.
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