Networking Tips for Lawyers

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A friend of mine who is a lawyer asked me to write some networking tips that she could share with fellow attorneys at her firm.  Believe me writing networking tips for lawyers wouldn’t be the first audience I would think about but my friend is very special so this is what I wrote. I thought I would share them with a wider audience.  The legal disclaimers are at the end.

So here they are:

Networking is about developing relationships.  It is not about selling.  Business happens when mutually beneficial relationships are established over time.  You don’t ask people to marry you on the first date.  There is a whole category in humor called lawyer jokes.  Don’t let your poor networking skills contribute to it.  The types of folks that most people don’t want to meet are lawyers and undertakers.

Get off your crackberry.  Don’t become a lemming like everyone else standing in line at Starbucks reading their e mails oblivious to the people around them.  Trust me; your next big client engagement is not going to come in the form of an e mail while you are waiting for your coffee.  The Barista’s mother could be the President of a bank.  Talk to her and others around you.  Networking is about an attitude of engagement not going to a networking event. You network everyday not once a week.

You must Rock and Roll on Linkedin.  The average income of a Linkedin user is close to $100,000.  It is the preferred social media platform for your prospects.  Linkedin is a great prospecting tool and a great vehicle to improve your SEO.  Make sure your profile is complete and detailed. Make sure that your photo doesn’t look like a mug shot.  Have lots of recommendations from previous clients. It let’s others speak your praises versus you.  Post updates on a daily basis.  Google will reward you or ignore you. It is your choice.

Networking takes work and preparation.  To be really good at something you have to work at it.  Do not go to network events at 5 minutes to noon if the event starts at noon.  Go at 11:20 and read the name tags of people who will be attending.  Introduce yourself to them when they pick up their name badges.  Make sure you have lots of business cards in your hand and not your wallet.  Do not sit with your friends.  Standing around a bar with friends talking to people you know is not networking, it is socializing.

Social media is not a fad. It is not just something that young people do. Companies who do not embrace change are left behind.  Kodachrome film was a 15 billion dollar business for Kodak a decade ago.  Now the only place that you can get Kodachrome film is in a Paul Simon song.  People who do not embrace change become fads.  Do not tweet about tacos.  You use social media to distribute your thought leadership.  Participation in social media will help your SEO and make you look like a voice of knowledge if you use its power. Use it in the wrong way and you will look like a poser.

Your elevator speech doesn’t matter because your chances of getting on an elevator with a decision maker are slim to nil but the chances of that person doing a Google search on you prior to engaging with you are certain.  You need to own the first page of Google.  Every posting.  Social networking can help you achieve that.  Don’t believe me?  Google Hank Blank to see.

Disclaimer. To connect with Hank check out his site at www.hankblank.com  Follow him on Twitter at @hankblank, get more networking tips by reading his blog at http://hankblank.wordpress.com send him an e mail at hank@hankblank.com or connect with him on Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom  

Networking Isn’t Multi-Level Marketing

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We have all heard of Multi-Level Marketing.  Unfortunately many people approach networking in the same fashion and they think that the networks other people have built belong to them for their marketing purposes.  Just because I am on Linkedin doesn’t mean I have been recruited to sell other people’s products or services.

People find me in various ways.  They see that I am connected to somebody they want to reach for the sole purpose of generating financial currency for themselves.  They reach out by email, phone or introductions and ask me to connect them to my contacts. Often my contacts are senior level people and decision makers.

These people who are basically strangers who I don’t know but they think my network belongs to them.  Sorry, it has taken me decades to build my network often by going to networking events when I wanted to do other things, or getting up to early to speak to a group at 7 in the morning.  My network is not a public service.  I am not going to connect strangers to my contacts.

The only people I open up my network to more freely are students, people in transition or if I see a good fit.  Connecting a person in transition to a company when that person is not a qualified candidate is not a high return strategy for anyone.  Fruitless activity is not high opportunity job hunting. These individuals would be better served learning how to fish but they want the quick fix and coming to me is the easier path.

“We are on Linkedin together” doesn’t really create some kind of fraternal bond when there are over 100 million people on Linkedin. All my connections aren’t your connections because we are on Linkedin. Linkedin isn’t a giant Amway.  I feel more connected to the 200 plus people in Canadians in OC because we share similar backgrounds and shared interests like curling.

I often get solicitations from people thru Linkedin asking me to connect them to a second degree connection.  Connecting strangers to strangers is not networking.  I will also not write a Linkedin recommendation for anybody that I have not had a working relationship with.

As I have a very extensive network I also get emails saying that I have quite an impressive network.  They would love to get together and see how we can help each other.  In the past I used to bite but only very rarely did I find that they really wanted to help me.  It was their interest and access to my network that was their primary concern.  If I didn’t follow up I never heard from them.

I often meet people who almost upon immediately meeting me ask “Who are your clients?”  They have a solution looking for a problem.  They get no time.

I have become very skeptical of outreach that says. “Let’s see how we can help each other.”  I have no problems finding people that need help.  It is all around us.  I would rather focus on them than people that want to use me.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch his video on the Power of Networking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-dSNVAN9FU&list=UUEigDTyDiFGXVfyg7sRErOg&index=10&feature=plcp