Networking is an art. It's not for everyone but if you're working at a law firm, chances are that you're going to have to start rainmaking sooner or later.
If you find yourself in the inevitable position of trying to develop clientele but you have no clue how to be a rainmaker, then read on.
There's more to networking than handing out your card. Step 1 is to get out there and meet people. Step 2 is to build the relationships and close the deal (this can sometimes be a two-step process).
Here's a top 5 list for the best spots to get out there and start networking.
Here are 5 great places to start networking.
- Local Bar Associations. Join your county bar association or your local bar association. These are good places to meet other lawyers. As you'll learn, a large number of clients will come from attorney referrals. Network with attorneys from other practice areas since they won't be in direct competition with you.
- Chamber of Commerce. Any good networker will tell you that the Chamber is a great place to meet other professionals. The Chamber of Commerce is full of others who are trying to get referrals for their businesses. It is also full of business owners who may have legal issues that they could use some help with.
- The gym. No-- not your average neighborhood gym. High-end gyms that cater to an executive clientele can be a good place to meet people. But you'll have to drop top dollar to be part of a gym that has caters to the high net-worth crowd. It's also relatively easy to strike up conversation with others when you join a yoga class or other group activity.
- Online. By joining e-mail listserves and LinkedIn groups, you might gain access to a network of peers. Some of the best referrals come from peers, so get online and start meeting people!
- Alumni organizations. By participating in alumni organizations, you can get exposure to a broad range of University educated professionals. Never discount the value of loyalty, either. Alumni will gladly support their own.
Networking isn't about meeting people. Meeting people is the first step in effective networking. Once you meet someone and build a rapport, it's important to follow up on that rapport and maintain the relationship.
- A Drink by Drink Guide to Success at Legal Networking Events (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Networking Tips for Lawyers (FindLaw)
- Client Acquisition (FindLaw)
- Law Firm Marketing: What Are Friends For, Anyway? (FindLaw)