Networking for Lawyers: To Zoom or Not to Zoom, that is the Question

By Steve Fretzin

To say that the last four years of running a business or law practice has been interesting would be an understatement. In one year, we went from 95% in-person networking to 100% via Zoom. With the pandemic behind us, many professionals have moved back to in-person networking, which seems to make people happy. But are we? Was there something about networking on Zoom that may have been better than in-person? Let’s explore this as I go through my top five reasons why Zoom networking is actually better than in-person.

Now, before you flip your lid about this, I’m bringing up five supporting viewpoints for you to assess so you can understand where I’m coming from. To be clear, there are no right or wrong opinions unless you disagree with mine…ha-ha-ha. Seriously though, everyone has their own take on this, so hear me out and see if I’m making sense. Most importantly, enjoy my top five!

#1. People typically show up ON TIME for Zoom meetings.

I don’t know about you, but the last 10 in-person meetings I’ve had, EVERYONE was late. To make matters worse, I’m always 10 minutes early, so now I’m consistently waiting for 20 minutes for every meeting to begin. To me, being late is a sign of disrespect for the other person (just saying…). Maybe it’s just me and some of my Gen-X baggage.

#2. I’ve become a believer that shorter meetings are better, highly efficient and may have greater impact.

So, maybe we’re not talking for 45 minutes about your sore feet, bad traffic or your half-dozen cats, but we are getting down to business after a few minutes of group warm up. Using Zoom, in 30 minutes we now spend more time on how we can help one another versus 90 to 120 minutes of someone messing with my adult ADHD. I find that 5 to 10 minutes of relationship building is plenty before getting down to the business of helping one another. Anyone else get the leg shakes under the table during long, drawn-out meeting?

#3. There’s no more travel.

In years past I’ve spent many hours each day traveling to and from networking meetings. For many of us, this creates unproductive time out of our day where we could be meeting more people. Five years ago, I was thrilled to get three to four meetings in a day. By Zoom, I’m regularly securing five to eight meetings a day, which almost doubles my productivity. If you know me at all, you know I’m a time management freak. So, anything I can do to be more productive, the better.

 

#4. Other than a bad Wi-Fi signal or a dog barking in the background, Zoom allows both parties to stay highly focused on each other.

One point I make regularly to my clients about networking is to avoid busy or noisy meeting spaces. Coffee shops, restaurants and bars may seem ideal, but they can be highly distracting. When networking, I try to be an amazing listener so I can learn about the other person and identify ways to help them. Zoom creates a personal and close face-to-face connection that doesn’t easily allow for distractions.

#5. Zoom offers some pretty slick features that can enhance your networking meetings.

When you’re in-person, meetings are generally off the cuff. Sadly, most professionals don’t take notes or bring visuals to review. With Zoom you can automatically take notes via AI, have the meeting automatically summarized for you, easily record the meeting for playback, and screen share to demonstrate something important in a visual way. Also, because you are already at your desk, following up with an email or scheduling a next step is quite simple.

My point, dear reader, is that while physically breaking bread with people is a wonderful tradition, I’m finding Zoom to be an incredibly useful, time efficient tool that doesn’t affect in a negative way my ability to build strong, long-lasting relationships. Now, that all being said, if you are going to lock up a big business opportunity, traveling by train, car or plane would always be my recommendation. We must admit though, it’s pretty nice staying out of airports whenever possible. Ultimately, it’s up to you. I’ve made my case and I hope it’s helpful to you when deciding whether in-person is still the better option for you, for your networking.

For more information on networking best practices or any legal business development questions, please go to my website www.fretzin.com. For a direct line to meet with me regarding growing your individual law practice, feel free to email me at [email protected].

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