What do you think of when asked to attend the local Chamber of Commerce’s after-hours networking event? I immediately think of that overly energetic, extroverted and annoying person passing out business cards like a blackjack dealer in Vegas. Do you think your goal should be to speak to as many people and collect as many business cards as possible? Are you (unrealistically) expecting to walk away with a new client? All of these are the wrong reasons to attend a networking event and the wrong perceptions as well.
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During a law firm marketing meeting at a client’s office last week, I asked one of the firm’s founding partners to share his insights regarding business development. Without hesitation, he began speaking about the importance of building and maintaining a strong professional network. He discussed the organizations he had joined and remained active in during his long and very successful career, and how he had progressed from simply attending meetings to taking top leadership roles within the organizations.
In today’s world of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest Tumblr, Flickr and all the other social platforms, networking for lawyers is easier than ever. If you are using one or more of these tools to engage clients and prospective clients, congratulations! According to a Fast Company article published in November, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 age bracket. The 45-54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
Few would argue that networking always has been and likely always will be an important aspect of building and maintaining a successful law practice. Networking is how lawyers connect with prospective clients and referral sources, build trust and loyalty, and develop the types of individual relationships that can lead to new business.
It’s also time-consuming and, for most of us, not particularly easy or fun.
There is no doubt that social networking is a great way to build your brand and expand your online presence, but it also can be an incredible time suck. You set out to share some interesting thoughts on the budget deficit and then suddenly you are several layers deep (and 45 minutes invested) in reading about recipes for low-fat cooking.
To avoid the social media time suck, you need to have a plan.
For many, the prospect of networking at an industry event instills feelings of angst and frustration. Some are intimidated at the thought of mingling among strangers, while others view it as a fruitless endeavor. But for lawyers, whose occupations depend on making meaningful personal connections, networking is critical business development tool. Fortunately, there are clear and concrete takeaways that attorneys can employ to maximize the return on their networking investments.
The 2013 Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference is coming up soon, April 8–10 at the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas. We marketers realize the fantastic educational and networking opportunities offered by the LMA annual conference, as well as the value of regional and local LMA events. But do your firm attorneys have any idea how beneficial our trade association is for your firm and each of us individually? In most cases, probably not … but you can change that. Try implementing one or more of these tactics:
In a $26.2 billion deal, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn at the close of 2016. The price tag indicates the high level of investor confidence in the platform’s value and the potential to monetize its 500 million registered user base. Already, LinkedIn rolled out a makeover to its desktop version in the first quarter of 2017, greatly improving the look and feel of the platform.
Most lawyers understand that building and maintaining a professional network, both in-person and via social media, is imperative to garnering referrals and cultivating their law firm business development efforts. Unfortunately, after expending a lot of effort, some personal and social networking relationships languish even while others “stick” and grow. Therefore, we are constantly repeating and reenergizing the business development process.
There is no doubt that social media networking turns connections into clients. It may not happen overnight, and it absolutely does take some real-world interfacing, but it happens.
Whether before the Legal Marketing Association’s national convention, coming up in April or in advance of any conference you may attend, LinkedIn can be an effective networking tool in your law firm’s business development arsenal. Here’s how.