If your business does not mainly come from referrals from friends and colleagues with the bar associations, or if you are a newly graduated lawyer and hanging out your shingle, you still need to network. Why? To keep your name, face and practice visible.
So many law firms have exterior signs and wonder why people don’t walk into the door. Unless they’ve either met you or know someone who recommends your work that is not going to happen.
I know, when you go out in public and tell people you’re a lawyer, they ask for free advice that they should pay you for giving them. Overcoming that concern is the first step in getting people to get to know you and, when they need counsel, retain your services or at least give you a project. After all, business development is critical to keep you doing what you love.
So how and where to network? Some places are obvious, such as joining the Chamber of Commerce or the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, which offers many opportunities to meet people from St. Louis and Illinois. RCGA has a Public Policy Council that works with legislatures in Illinois and Missouri.
Many other organizations exist that offer opportunities as well. In the Yellowbook, more than 100 organizations are listed. I know they are not all appropriate for membership but if you find the right one for you, you could rise to being a board member and network with the leadership; often populated by business and professional leaders. Attend a meeting first to see if it is the right fit.
Another organization that places leaders on not-for-profit organizations is the United Way of Greater St. Louis through Board Link STL, which also serves Illinois. Information is available on the internet at BoardLinkStl.org.
Another way to network and position yourself as a leader in your field is speaking engagements. Most organizations have monthly meetings and need a speaker for their meetings.
Grandone Media Strategies can help you identify the right organization for you to address legal issues in their field and meet new people and community leaders.
Advertising in magazines, television radio, the telephone book and Internet, etc. are all passive ways to keep your firm’s name in from of the public. Meeting people one-on-one is the very best way to promote yourself and your firm. We are, however, bombarded by hundreds of hundreds of messages every day.
Networking is an essential and most effective form of marketing.
Jim Grandone is owner of Grandone Media Strategies. He has represented law firms in Illinois and Missouri, and regularly works with the legal and general media. Grandone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 692-1892