Here is an okay article providing tips to young attorneys on business development issues. Its just okay because the suggestions provided are so superficial as to be useless.
“Identify the types of people who will bring you work and target your efforts to them. If you are a business lawyer, networking with other business lawyers will only take you so far; you need to meet businesspeople — the consumers of your legal services.”
This advice is an excellent start but neglects to address two essentials questions – how to find out the right places to network and how to network effectively?
1. Find the right place to network – start small and learn the basics of networking. This can be Business Networking International (BNI) or the Rotary or many other networking groups.
2. Give yourself at least a year in any organization. It takes time for people to get a sense of you are and for you to know who they are. Also it takes time to understand the referral process – who most naturally works with other people. Its not always a matter of complimentary businesses. Sometime its based on a personal affinities.
3. Make sure where-ever you network that there is accountability as part of the process – yours and others. Any group that lets you come and go as you please, isn’t much use. People need to be accountable to network because its hard to get yourself to a meeting on a voluntary basis. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it but if your membership is on the line, you will do it anyway.
4. Listen, listen, listen: What are people saying and how do they say it? Part of listening is to pay attention to body language. When you tell people what you do, are their eyes glazing over? Do they turn away? Do they quickly change the subject? These are all signs that you need to improve your quick pitch about your business. Keep working on it. Networking will improve how you talk about what you do. At first I stumbled and looked away, my voice dropped and I communicated nervousness and discomfort. Now I speak up, look the person in the eye and express my gratitude for getting a chance to give them information about myself. And the responses I get are much more positive.
5. Refer thoughtfully and often: You are much more valuable if you are someone who knows lots of great professionals and are willing to help out those in need. Go to networking events listening for how you can help others with their business problems – regardless of whether its a lawyer who can solve their problem.