Networking for Lawyers Made Simple
For both introverts and extroverts alike, one word often brings feelings of dread and discomfort: networking.
Networking can seem like a monumental task. Spending your whole day working, only to then go to an event and discuss more work with strangers. And if you’ve gone to many networking events that left you with a bad taste in your mouth, it can be hard to muster up the enthusiasm to keep trying.
But attorney networking doesn’t have to be scary.
Networking is one of your best tools to grow your practice and hone your skills. If networking stresses you out, consider reframing it as simply making professional friendships. Be prepared and ask thoughtful questions with people you meet, and you can treat any social outing as a networking opportunity.
If you struggle with building your network, then follow these helpful attorney networking strategies.
Put yourself out there
The first step of networking is taking steps to expand your professional circle. And while this can be intimidating, you don’t have to start networking with strangers off the bat. Ask one of your co-workers if they know anyone with experience in a practice area that you’re looking to learn more about or has worked on a particular type of matter. You’d be surprised what you can get simply by asking for it.
Networking can be as creative as you want it to be. You can start building your network by:
- Attending alumni events in your city
- Participate in an upcoming legal conference
- Seeking out bar association activities for your state bar, a minority of specialty bar, or the ABA
- Taking a class or enrolling in a workshop in a new practice area
- Reaching out to people for coffee within your LinkedIn network
- Participating in non-profit activities
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg—the important thing is to get involved in your professional community.
Find networking opportunities wherever you go
But networking doesn’t have to be limited to your immediate professional community, nor do you need to be at an official networking event to network.
Some of the most rewarding connections can come from simply being friendly with people and learning about their backgrounds. If you find yourself sitting next to someone at your child’s baseball game, strike up a conversation. If you spot an old friend on social media, reach out to them. Find out what they’ve been up to and how they are doing.
Part of networking for lawyers is meeting people who could be potential clients or sources of referrals. Even if a new acquaintance doesn’t work in the legal field, their professional background might overlap with your target client audience. Be sincere, but if you share more about what you do with someone, they may have a friend who is looking for legal services.
It’s never ideal to show up to a networking event and not know anything about the event’s purpose or who might be there.
If you are going to a networking event hosted by a law firm or a particular organization, spend some time researching them and their areas of legal practice. If the event focuses on a specific topic, make sure you’re well-versed so you can ask thoughtful questions or share relevant information. This will create a strong first impression and help you join the conversation.
And before you go to any networking event, it’s a good idea to have business cards ready to go. While you shouldn’t hand these out frivolously, anyone you meet might ask you for one. This could be for them, or they may give this to a friend who needs a lawyer with your specific legal expertise. You never know whose hands your business card may end up in.
Ask attendees about themselves
No one likes someone who just goes to a networking event to talk about themselves. When you strike up a conversation with someone, ask thoughtful questions. These questions change depending on how much experience you have and the networking situation you’re in, but you can start with these tried-and-true options:
- Where are you from?
- Where did you go to law school?
- Have you read any interesting articles lately?
- Do you have any fun vacations planned?
- What do you like best about the work you’re doing right now?
Again, think of networking as making new “professional friends.” When you think of people as your friend, it becomes less about what you can get from them and more about how you can help each other grow and succeed.
Make an effort to help others
The best way to network is to help people when the opportunity arises. For example, consider volunteering your time to do pro bono work for a legal clinic through your local bar association. You could also take steps to support more junior attorneys at your legal practice—both formal and informal mentorship can have a positive impact on new attorneys and their career development.
You should treat everyone with kindness and courtesy, regardless of their status. If you see someone doing a good job, tell them so. It doesn’t matter if they are an administrative assistant or a CEO. (Besides, administrative assistants are the eyes and ears of any practice. You want to stay on their good side.)
Check in with people from time to time
Attorney networking doesn’t happen in one sitting. Once you meet someone, you need to follow through and check in with them from time to time. This could be a simple text message to ask how a big meeting they were preparing for went or a “Happy holidays!” greeting. Friendships take time to grow, and professional relationships are no different.
Do yourself a favor and set calendar reminders to check in with people you’ve met. Time flies, and it’s easy for a year to pass without communicating with that friendly attorney you met at a Bar Association event. Aim to check in with people every 3-6 months. You can always reach out to people sooner to congratulate them if you see they’ve published a piece in a journal or received a meaningful award.
Stick with it
Don’t wait to network with people until you need something. The best networking happens organically when people aren’t under pressure. So even if it seems like you don’t see any activity, keep up the consistent work.
Plus, the more you do it, the easier it will be. This helps you realize that networking doesn’t have to be scary. Meeting new people and helping others can help you feel more connected and fulfilled in your career.
Networking for lawyers is easier with Rocket Matter
Make sure you have all your contact information stored in a secure place so that even if you lose your phone, you don’t lose your networking contacts. That’s why Rocket Matter’s legal practice management software offers robust contact management.
Our “Copy-to-Contact” tool makes it easy to drag and drop contact information from an email signature into your legal software. Organize your contacts by first or last name and assign tags to make for intuitive sorting.
Our contact management software comes with our comprehensive legal practice management, so schedule a free demo to see how Rocket Matter can simplify your networking and running your law firm.