You’ve spent years training to become the best lawyer you can be. You’ve grown your team and your practice, and you’re now starting to notice room for more growth and improvement. An important skill for lawyers to master is networking. This is the entrepreneur’s secret to success – as the saying goes, ‘your network is you net-worth’.
Networking is a challenge for many lawyers, as you may not think of yourself as particularly outgoing or charismatic, or inexperienced in it. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why lawyers avoid networking.
Reason #1: ‘I don’t know anyone’
To grow your network, you don’t need to know anyone – you just need to start. First look for events or seminars that are running, both online or in-person. A list of these can easily be found by spending some time searching Google.
Secondly, analyse your current contact list – including contacts that are not necessarily lawyers, but who may be of professional use to you.
Remember it’s not just about who you know – it’s about who your network knows, and you never know what opportunity may come about from any one of your contacts.
Reason #2 ‘I’m scared of being rejected’
If you want people to say yes to you, be prepared to have plenty of people respond with ‘no’ – which isn’t always a bad thing. Not everyone is going to want to do business, but the ones that say yes will keep you moving forward towards success. After all, you won’t get anywhere being afraid of rejection, you have to keep trying and take a risk.
The next step is to plan. When you encounter people saying turning you down, quickly filter them out as they’re now irrelevant connections. Focus on strengthening relationships with contacts who are aligned with your values and vice versa (whether that is professional, personal or otherwise).
Once you start reaching out to people and other lawyers, you will find many will, in fact, respond positively. Record what makes an interaction memorable for you and what the other party’s intentions, attitudes, values and interests are. The more authentic, trusting and kind you come across, the stronger your relationships will become.
There is no quick route, networking takes time and effort, but the end result is worth it. Think of it as a cherry tree – it needs time and nurturing to grow, and strength and resilience to overcome the weather, and in then the cherries will grow in abundance. The cherries are your most successful networking relationships rewarding you with business growth, personal branding and career building.
Reason #3 – I feel like I’m using people
If you feel like you’re just using people, you need to change your mindset. The kind of networking that is based on inauthentic interactions for personal gain is negative and rarely works.
While you’re sure to encounter some of these kinds of individuals during your career, this is certainly the minority.
You’re likely to have many engaging and interesting conversations with strangers, colleagues or professional peers, who share a common interest with you or share with you a new perspective.
This is a positive and fulfilling aspect of professional networking. When you give, help or open up to others, not only will you benefit from it, but you’ll find that others will want to naturally give back to you.
On the other hand, if there are times when you need advice or support, and feel you have little to offer or share, don’t be discouraged from reaching out. You’ll often find that people are happy to help.
An example – reaching out to a leader in a field for advice. They know that the passing of knowledge is how humans grow for the better, and are honored to provide guidance – an opportunity for immense value to both parties.
In this article, we have covered a few of the common objections to networking. In part 2 of this series, we’ll continue our deep dive into exploring the common objections of networking.
Ready to overcome your fears and put your networking skills into practice? Unlock your NEXL membership today.