“I haven’t got time for networking!” is the most common reason my clients give for not getting out to maintain and grow their networks.
Now leaving aside that this excuse is often a smokescreen for other issues around law firm marketing generally, I thought it was time to give all you busy folks 5 easy ways to keep your network alive in 20 minutes or less per week.
1. Accept & Send a few invitations
I’m sure most readers of this article will have LinkedIn profiles set up. (If you don’t, stop reading and set up your profile immediately.) And I’m just as sure that many of you leave it woefully unloved. You might not have time to view every LinkedIn update but as a minimum you should log in and accept any of the legitimate invitations you’ve received at least once a week. Once you’ve done that click on the “People you may know” link in the top right corner and spend a few minutes sending off invitations to some of the suggestions. You’ll be amazed how often LinkedIn finds someone you already know that you’re not yet connected to. Time invested: 3 minutes.
2. Ask a few questions
Every week we meet new clients, colleagues and other professionals. These are all potential future members of your network. However recognising that not all network connections are equal it’s important to focus your efforts on the most valuable contacts. So irrespective of how you’ve come to meet this person – always – ask a few questions. What work do they do? Who are their ideal clients? Have they lived in the area long? Valuable information for building your network. Time invested: 3 minutes.
3. Record your network
Just as important as meeting potential new clients and referrers is to have a system to record and maintain the lists of people you need to keep in contact with. Maybe you use Outlook, a spreadsheet or just a little black book. Regardless of the method if you don’t have a way of retaining information about your contacts the potential value of all the people you meet, and those questions you ask, is lost. Simply record names, emails and phone numbers as you meet people or empower someone in your office to conduct a “Who did we meet this week?” audit at your team meetings. Time invested: 5 minutes
4. Email someone
That list I mentioned above…pull it out and pick a name and email them. It could be a client you haven’t heard from in a while, a referrer you missed catching up with at the last chamber event or that guy from uni who was always drunk but is now CEO of a mid-size company. Sending a “How you going?” email is fast, easy and can have a genuine impact on the likelihood of that person referring you work. Time invested: 1 minute.
5. Phone a friend
It’s just not possible to treat everyone in your network equally. For those that are genuine friends or top tier “referral friends” you need to at least be making occasional contact personally with a phone call. If you’re in regular contact because of an ongoing matter that’s fine, just add a bit of personal, non-file conversation when appropriate. But if you haven’t heard from them in a while a 5 minute call to say “How’s business?”, “Did you hear about….” or just about anything else is a worthwhile investment in your law firm marketing. Time invested: 5 minutes.
So for just 20 minutes a week (including the time it took to read this article) you can keep your law firm marketing network alive and perhaps even growing. If you’re in a consolidation or maintenance period with your practice this could well be enough, when combined with actually leaving the office occasionally, to keep you on track.
If you’re interested in driving significant growth for your practice through a committed networking and referral program then you’ll need to invest significantly more time. But the good news is that John Gray Marketing can help. We regularly work with clients to organise, build and maintain their networking programs as one of the fundamental elements of a successful law firm marketing program.