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Networking for New Lawyers: Everything You Need To Know

Are you wasting your time on the wrong attorney networking activities? Check out this guide for the best networking tips for lawyers.

When it comes to developing new business, the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” still holds the truth. 

Since business comes from people, it is also vital that the right people know YOU!

Read on to understand why and how to network and develop deeper relationships that bring new clients who best fit your expertise, personality, and legal practice areas. You didn’t learn this stuff in law school but it can make or break your career. It is a business development strategy that is calculated but also intuitive. Networking can be a bit like dating: You may kiss a few frogs before discovering the prince or princess who skyrockets your success and elevates your reputation in the legal industry.

Attorney Networking: You’re In For the Long Haul

Make no mistake. Lawyer networking is playing the long game. You may not experience instant results. As with all marketing strategies, you are planting the seeds for future business, and you can’t wait until the phone stops ringing to start drumming up new business. The people you meet today may be your strongest advocates tomorrow. And if they don’t refer clients directly, they may be able to serve as a valuable resource to your business in other ways. So don’t give up on them.

What Are the Benefits of Networking for Lawyers?

You didn’t go to law school to learn how to make small talk at a cocktail party or on a Zoom call, so you may be wondering how it will benefit you to step out of your comfort zone. Here are some reasons to expand your sphere of influence:

  • To grow your practice;
  • To set yourself apart in the legal industry and the professional community;
  • To increase visibility;
  • To meet like-minded power partners who refer clients;
  • To meet professionals who may serve as a resource;
  • To learn from other successful attorneys and business owners; and
  • To share your experience and mentor others often creates a sense of duty to support you in return.

Increase your net worth by increasing your network

As many top lawyers can attest, a circle of ardent supporters is an incomparably powerful tool for generating word-of-mouth referrals, establishing mutually beneficial relationships with business leaders, and fostering consumer confidence.

4 Essential Networking Tips for Lawyers: Building Connections

Relationships are king in the business world, so here are a few suggestions to encourage others to approach you and connect with you. The deepest connections often spawn the most prosperous results.

  1. Be accessible and personable: Remember that many potential clients and referral partners may feel intimidated by attorneys, so show a little of your personal side.
  2. Break down barriers: Present yourself as a helpful counselor, not a high authority.
  3. Quality over Quantity: Receive qualified referrals over a number of clients who are challenging and not the right fit for your firm.
  4. Distinguish yourself: Many lawyers struggle with networking, relationship building, and business development. Set yourself apart by excelling in this arena.

How To Network for Attorneys: Get Social

As you’ve probably seen in the movies, some of the biggest business deals are sealed by a handshake on the golf course by men and women wearing polo shirts and shorts. That’s because, at social events, we are relaxed, disarmed, and open to cooperation with others. So, when you think business, think personal.

Ask for introductions 

  • Identify potential key referral partners or individuals;
  • Ask people in your current social circle to introduce you to anyone they know who fits this profile;
  • A joint email introduction is good. A personal introduction is better!

Offer to reciprocate

Perhaps there is someone in your network who would be a good match for the individual making an introduction for you?

Networking events for lawyers: create your own

Who doesn’t like to have a good time? Hosting face-to-face events is an excellent way to meet new contacts and have productive conversations with those you already know. 

  • Host small events such as business lunches;
  • Host mid-sized events such as a mixer of 10 to 20 guests who might form prosperous partnerships; or
  • Host large events like a Grand Opening or Holiday Party.

How to succeed at legal networking events: double the fun

Ask your guests to invite a guest. Don’t confine yourself to those you currently know. Consider it a success to meet at least one new contact, and always be on the lookout for ways to increase your exposure.

Networking with attorneys: how can I grow my practice through attorney referrals?

Do you like lawyers? Meeting and mingling with other attorneys can result in a surge of optimal client referrals, especially because other lawyers are apt to understand your practice area and correctly identify the correct client to introduce.

  • Reach out to successful attorneys in complementary areas of law;
  • Meet attorneys who practice the same area of law. For many reasons, they may have clients who are not a right fit for their firm to send your way happily; and/or
  • Join attorney-focused networking groups.

Leveraging your local community

Anyone with significant social influence could be a key supporter. 

Those who possess the power to successfully build and maintain solid relationships can be a gold mine for new connections. Who are the leaders in your community? In your client’s community? Get to know them well.

Best Practices To Network as a Lawyer: Developing Deeper Relationships

A meet and greet is not a “one and done.” Establishing genuine rapport is vital.

  • Find reasons to reach out to people you like – and those you haven’t yet learned to like;
  • Take a second to connect on LinkedIn. This will help you keep track of who you’ve met and help you stay at the top of their mind;
  • Develop a firm newsletter to keep your contacts informed. Maintain a consistent social media presence; and
  • Ask referral partners to write reviews and guest blog posts. Invite them to join you as a speaker at educational events.

How to succeed at legal networking: be a connector

Everyone appreciates introductions to quality professionals and likable, trustworthy people.

Whether it’s a client, a personal contact, or a business-to-business partner, make time to introduce like-minded, synergistic individuals who may refer business or serve as a resource for one another.

Grow Your Practice Through Attorney Networking: Position Yourself as an Expert in Your Field

Create Visibility: It’s not just who you know. It’s who knows YOU.

  • Be a guest on podcasts or start your own;
  • Seek opportunities to write articles, guest blogs, and be quoted in publications. Video interviews are great too;
  • Offer to provide educational presentations;
  • Volunteer as a board member for influential organizations which relate to your field of law or serve the community you wish to reach; and
  • Promote your appearances shamelessly. Don’t keep your success a secret.

Legal Networking Watchwords: Like, Know, and Trust

It is well-known that everyone prefers to work with someone they like, know and trust. Here are the 4 top tips for creating good vibes:

  1. Socialize: Non-business-focused events often reap the greatest networking rewards because people let their guard down. Everyone you meet may know someone in need of your expert counsel, and since you may be the only lawyer they’ve met, they will likely think of you first.
  2. Take off your lawyer hat: Speak in layperson’s terms and share a few personal tidbits.
  3. Shatter the intimidation factor: Reveal your humanity and humility.
  4. Lighten up the conversation: Don’t hesitate to use humor because everyone loves to smile.
Also read:Networking for Lawyers: How Being a Part of the Community Helps Your Career?

It is now more important than ever for lawyers to develop their connections. Networking could help you both develop as a professional...

How to succeed at networking without really trying

Be yourself and practice excellent listening skills. Ask follow-up questions that focus on the person you are getting to know, and resist the urge to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about yourself. The plain truth is that most people like to talk about themselves. As an engaged listener, you will probably win their favor quickly and leave a lasting, positive impression. 

Go forth and conquer!

Now you have an arsenal of proven tips, ideas, and strategies that will grow your practice and elevate your reputation. Never underestimate the power of personal contact and remember to prioritize social events and networking efforts consistently.

Article by Annie Tyler

Annie Tyler, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Norton Basu, LLP, an estate planning and probate law firm. Annie Tyler is a noteworthy San Francisco Bay Area relationship manager with unparalleled expertise in business development using innovative marketing strategies. While cultivating and maintaining Norton Basu LLP’s strategic partnerships, she serves as a resource for attorneys and clients. She is known for her warm and engaging presence and extensive network of vetted, highly specialized experts ranging from financial planners, attorneys, and tax professionals to real estate experts, and more.

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