Before launching into the tactics of networking, it’s important to have a good understanding of your ultimate goal so you can be sure to maximize legal networking opportunities. Call legal business development expert Steve Fretzin at 312-981-0119 to learn more about the value of legal networking for your firm.
Whether you’re a veteran or a novice at networking, it’s important to go back to basics when looking to improve your results. Before running out the door to attend the next event that crosses your path, take a moment to stop and map out a strategic approach. Attending random events in a haphazard fashion may not be the best investment of your time, and your time is money. Before devoting time participating in any gathering, you should first define your target audience and determine the purpose for which you plan to meet them.
To be a productive networker and maximize legal networking, there are three main focus groups you should be targeting. The first group are “direct buyers.” These are individuals who personally need your services and who can make decisions to hire you to represent them. Second are the “strategic partners,” who are those individuals conducive to serving as future sources of direct business referrals. The third group is comprised of “centers of influence.” This group consists of well-connected individuals who may be able to refer you to buyers and strategic partners.
Another way to maximize legal networking opportunities is to take a few moments to write down a profile of your best “prospective” clients, strategic partners, and centers of influence you hope to meet at future events. For prospective clients, this list may include corporate presidents, chief executive officers, chief financial officers, and general counsel. For strategic partners and centers of influence, your list might include certified public accountants, wealth managers, bankers, attorneys, and executive consultants.
If possible, research in advance the names of those individuals who’ll be attending the event and ask yourself where these prospective attendees fit in with your list. One of the most effective ways to determine the potential for an event prior to attending is to speak with the event host. Contact the event organizer and ask a short list of pointed questions that will help you determine whether the event will be worth your time. For example, if you’re keen to meet CEOs and CFOs, find out whether executives at that corporate level will attend. If you ask politely, the host may even give you an attendee list. This not only is a great tool to decide whether to invest your time at that particular event, but it can also serve as a list of potential contacts to follow up with afterward. Be forewarned and prepared to respond, however, for the event host or membership chair may try to sell you a membership to the group.
Pre-Event Questions for Host
- “What is the professional makeup of the membership or attendee list?”
- “When and how frequently are regular association or group meetings held?”
- “Are there any upcoming special events?”
- “How many attendees do you expect?”
- “How many attorneys attend your events?”
- “Are there any other related events that business owners might attend?”
- “Do you have any opportunities for members to present to the group as an educator?”
- “Does the organization have a committee structure? Are there other ways to become involved?”
Asking questions in advance and gaining a grasp of the makeup and goals of the organization will help you maximize legal networking and help you decide whether it makes sense to invest your valuable time attending one of these events. Disqualifying opportunities with little potential to put you in contact with people on your list will allow you to quickly move on to other networking opportunities that may be a better fit.