How to Become A Lawyer Who Networks
FindLaw’s 2014 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey revealed that 55 percent of consumers looking for an attorney offline depend on referrals, either from family, friends or coworkers, or from other attorneys or legal professionals.
What is the source of referrals? Relationships. How do you build meaningful relationships that lead to referrals? Networking.
Introducing yourself to others and telling them what you do can benefit them tremendously should they or someone they know need your legal services in the future. But you cannot help them if you do not help yourself first by sharing that information.
If the thought of engaging strangers in conversation fills you with dread, fear not. Most people want to be approached and are relieved when someone introduces themselves.
Once you begin networking, don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying it. Here are five tips that will have you shaking hands and collecting business cards like a pro at corporate functions, conferences and gatherings.
- Be authentic. Smile warmly, establish eye contact and think of the other person as a potential friend instead of a business target. In other words, be a human being first and a lawyer second. You will establish a rapport and leave a favorable impression when people like you more for who you are than for what you do.
- Listen sincerely. Ask thoughtful questions and be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. Give people your full, undivided attention. Ask them to tell you more, and mean it.
- Have your elevator speech locked and loaded. Example: “I’m a divorce attorney focused on executive clients.” Keep it concise, clear and memorable.
- Exchange business cards. After each conversation, write a note on the back of the other person’s card that reminds you what you found impressive and interesting about them.
- Follow up. After the event, send everyone you spoke with a personalized e-mail that expresses your pleasure at having met them and mentions something specific you learned during your conversation. Ask to be added to their e-mail list and add them to yours. For an even bigger impact, send a handwritten note.
A strong network can produce a steady flow of clients, which strengthens your law practice and leads to more relationships and more referrals. And it all starts with four simple words: “Hi, my name is . . .”