Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Networking Online & Real-Time

May 1, 2011

Carol Elefant who always has insightful posts in her Nolo blog, “Legal Marketing Blawg” reminds us that face to face networking should be a key part of any marketing effort.  And I completely agree with her that social networking is critically important to boost your credibility and your online visibility but it will only supplement referral marketing which requires face-to-face marketing to be successful.

Weekly Networking

Carol asks her readers about the face-to-face marketing they do so I thought I’d chime in here.   I believe that having a weekly habit of face to face networking is extremely valuable.  I am a member of Business Networking International – BNI which I find quite effective but its the only one I know.  I’m sure there are other effective weekly marketing groups.

Benefits

  • Allows me to stand up and promote my business every week
  • Provides me with 30 people who know that I show up every week
  • These people become my sales force and learn my business
  • It makes other forms of marketing easier
  • Gives me a way to further relationship outside BNI by encouraging them to attend my meeting to promote their business

BusDev Tips for Attorneys in 2011

December 23, 2010

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.

Example:

“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.”

How?

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.

Speaking at Santa Clara School of Law in Dec.

November 13, 2010

I will be speaking at Santa Clara School of Law on Dec. 3rd on the topic of “Finding and Developing Your Clientele” at 2:15pm.  It will be part of the law school’s “Opening Your Own Practice” program.

Actual Networking

While I will discuss the value of social networking, I will put more attention on actual networking.  If an attorney wants to open their own practice, there are several fields which are most promising – estate planning, bankruptcy, personal injury, family law and employment law.  Clients will most likely consist of small businesses and individuals and the best way to reach such people is to join a networking group.  There is the Rotary, Toastmasters and many others.  I belong to BNI (Business Networking International) which may not be that easy for new attorneys to join because attorney categories in BNI chapters are competitive.  However, if you are lucky enough to be invited to join, these groups are terrific training grounds for the basics of building your business.  Here are some of the things you will learn:

  • How to speak to regular folks not just attorneys
  • How to talk about your legal practice in a compelling and engaging manner
  • How to give and receive business referrals
  • Who are your power partners both within the chapter and beyond
  • How to stay engaged in building practice every week as you are required to attend a meeting a week

Hate networking? – Change approach

August 14, 2010

Many people and, lawyers especially, would rather have a tooth pulled than go to a networking event.  I use to feel that way myself so I speak from experience.  What I disliked was having to sell myself, feeling that the only reason I was at a networking event was to get people to hire me.

Wrong Approach

The fact is I enjoy learning about what people do – which is a lot of what networking is.  Learn what people are up to and what they need – in their business or personal life.  Then instead of looking only for cues that can help me get business, I look for cues to help people find services and products they need.

People I Trust

Then because I’m in a Business Networking International chapter and I have first hand experience of people offering products and services in a wide range of areas, I can listen for ways to match up the person I’m talking to with people in my networking sphere who I know and trust.

Networking Becomes Fun

First, because I have plenty of things to talk about and I can bring together people with needs with people with services and products to offer.

How I benefit

I’ve made a connection with the person I’ve met who now realizes I’m not just selling them on my services but that I’m a a good listener, a trusted resource and someone worth knowing.  The people I’ve referred business to, now have a more powerful reason to learn about my offerings to refer appropriate people they meet, to me.

Legal networking – remember to follow-up

March 3, 2010

Here is an article about networking basics for attorneys.  Molly Perkins does a good job of outlining the various aspects of networking – going to lots of events, making a good first impression, act like a host at an event and the like.  I would add a few additional things:

1.  Have a realistic goal in mind at an event.  If you are shy, or an introvert or just don’t like the small talk that is the necessary lubricant (often along with alcohol) of mingling with people you don’t know, this can be useful.  Tell yourself that the event is a success if you hand out “X” number of your business cards.  Make it a realistic number so that you can leave the event feeling good about your success.

2. Get people talking about what they do for living and why they like it.  This will not only make you popular but if you start to hear complementary stories: like someone is a CPA who works with small business and someone else is an attorney that does the same thing, this gives you a chance to connect them at this event.  As they get excited about the possibility of mutual referrals, you can talk about how you might fit in with what they are doing, creating more business opportunities in the process.

3.  Follow-up: always make the follow-up as specific as possible.  Both in terms of what you talked about with the people you connected with but also about the value you offer the person with whom you are connecting.  If you have an active LinkedIn profile with lots of contacts,  blog posts and other  shared information follow-up through a LinkedIn introduction.  Not only is it easy to keep the person’s information current through LinkedIn but they will get updates about you on a weekly basis without you having to do anything.

Law students using social media – but poorly

February 24, 2010

40% of law students report creating LinkedIn profiles but few of them follow-up with people they meet according to Ari Kaplan’s article in the National Law Journal.

Kaplan has spoken to hundreds of law students in the last eight months and found that many of them are lost as to how network professionally and that shows up in the fact that they rarely follow-up with people they meet at events.

Social networking to the rescue:  built into LinkedIn and other social networking tools is a way to unobtrusively follow-up with people.  When I exchange business cards at an event I ask the person if they have a LinkedIn profile which does a couple things – allows me to talk about social networking which is one of my marketing strengths and gives us both a topic to discuss.  If the person has a LinkedIn account, I let them know that I’ll follow-up with them on LinkedIn because I used it as a contact management tool.

Make sure you personalize your LinkedIn invitation.  Reference where you met the person and something you discussed, it can be LinkedIn, for example.  You can be more proactive and setup Google news search on people but that can be difficult if the person has a common name.  You don’t want to congratulate someone for a promotion that happened someone else with the same name.  LinkedIn sends activity summaries weekly and its good to check it to see if people have changed jobs or announced promotions and you can easily follow-up with them from within LinkedIn.

When networking, don’t forget to follow-up

November 14, 2009

Larry Bodine posts helpfully about taking advantage of networking events.  Mostly basics which can’t be stressed too often but also insight into making connections before attending – getting attendee list, encouraging your clients to include you at their events.

But there are two things I would add and they are connected.  Follow-up with your contacts and make your in-person networking part of your online social networking.

*Send the people whose business cards you obtained, a LinkedIn invitation.  Make the invitation personal and circle back to something you talk with      them about.

*Propose coffee or lunch or a presentation: calibrate that to the nature of your conversation. 

*Make sure you follow-up that up with additional information for your new contact to keep them aware of you.

*Tweet, blog, update your LinkedIn/Facebook profile about the event.

 

Cisco sued for anti-competitive practices

December 4, 2008

Multiven, a independent service provider for router and networking products claims that Cisco which has a huge market share of the router business uses it’s Smartnet service and maintenance contracts for anti-competitive purposes by not providing bug fixes and updates to customers who don’t purchase these Smartnet contracts.  Multiven brought suit against Cisco in Federal District Court in San Jose, Northern Distric of California.

A couple interesting things:  The complaint does a good job of providing the range and scope of Cisco’s market with lots of revenue figures and information about its partners and other market players.  Also, in looking at recent SEC filings, I noticed that Cisco does a poor job of disclosing it’s litigation, mentioning a recent suit and then referencing risk factors as a place where it discusses additional legal issues.  My suspicion is that there are other antitrust lawsuits out there against Cisco but that’s not information gleaned from their recent 10-Q and 10-K.  It seems like that information should be disclosed but the SEC is pretty lax, to my mind, about what gets disclosed and in its specificity.

Complaint courtesy Courthousenews