Networking 101 for Solos and Small Firms

Not a social butterfly? No problem. Here's all you need to do.

Some lawyers are natural networkers, while others have to work at it.        

But even if you’re the world’s biggest introvert, you can become a good networker by knowing the basics. Such as: choose professional events you’re genuinely interested in. That way, any business you bring home will be icing on the cake.

Another tip: not being a social butterfly can actually be an advantage.

“Although being outgoing and gregarious may be helpful, it’s the introverts who have the real networking advantage,” writes Kevin Daum for Inc. “Introverts don’t just talk for the sake of talking. When they speak, it is with intent and purpose. And because they are slower to say what’s on their minds, they have had time to formulate a truly thoughtful, considered opinion.”

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Networking is important for every law practice, regardless of size. But for solos and small firms, it can mean the difference between failure and success.

“There are few more cost-effective ways to bring in business for solos and small firms,” writes Andrew Cabasso on JurisPage. “But while everyone knows that networking is a great way to market, most people have no idea where to begin.”

7 Networking Steps You Can Take Today

  1. Do something every day. Call a referral source just to check in. Introduce yourself to a neighbor you’re never spoken to. Follow up with a business associate. Make networking an organic part of your workday.
  2. Become a connector. “Think of two people who should know each other but don’t, and introduce them,” suggests Adam Rifkin, who Fortune Magazine calls the best networker in Silicon Valley. “Follow through with them later to learn whether that introduction was worthwhile, so you can get better at making introductions.”
  3. Do it online. They aren’t called social networks for nothing. Endorse a colleague on LinkedIn. Comment on an interesting blogpost. Share a Facebook post with a client. Remember to follow the Social Media Rule of Thirds: one-third of your online posts should be about your practice, one-third should be about the law generally, and one-third should show something about your personality. Solicit engagement by asking readers for their input.
  4. Do a five-minute favor for someone. Helping another person – it doesn’t have to be a client – is a form of networking, whether you choose to think of it that way or not. From Eric Barker: “If you can do something for someone that will take less than five minutes, just do it.” The good karma will come back to you, perhaps in surprising ways.
  5. Reconnect. Networking isn’t limited to making new connections. Renewing old ties can be just as fruitful. And don’t limit yourself to lawyers. Reach out to anyone whose relationship you value. “Remember mentors,” says Ryan Anderson on Filevine. “Don’t forget the professors and others who helped you get where you are. Invest in that relationship, and always be on the look-out for others who may be willing to take you under their wing.”
  6. Volunteer your services. Schools, senior centers and recreation departments are always looking for volunteers. Pick a cause and go for it. You’ll meet others and have a chance to demonstrate your skills. Bonus #1: you’ll feel good about yourself. Bonus #2: that karma thing again.
  7. Get out of the office. There’s a great big world out there. You never know who you might meet when you step out with an open mind and a smile on your face.

What networking tips would you add to this list?

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