In my last blog, I talked about the importance of having a plan before you attend networking events: and in today’s blog, we’ll go over the next step which is setting concrete legal networking goals. Call me at 312-981-0119 if you have questions about getting started with your own plan.
To begin setting your legal networking goals you should develop a series of firm strategies. Once your networking plan objective is written, pinpoint two to five strategies drafted to help you accomplish your main objective. Examples include attending an industry-specific conference, joining an association, attending local events, or raising your profile on LinkedIn.
Make sure to begin by selecting strategies that are fairly easy to achieve and not too grandiose. For instance, if you focus your practice on a particular industry, it might make more sense to attend industry-specific events versus general-interest gatherings. One strategy could be, “I will focus on developing my relationship with existing strategic partners at industry conferences in order to initiate quality introductions of at least two CEOs in the insurance field.” For example, here is a networking group specifically for lead generation among business professionals.
The next step in setting your legal networking goals is to identify opportunities that will provide the best chances of interacting with viable prospects and strategic partners. Rather than networking with other attorneys who, like you, are trying to develop business, you should focus on events and contacts that will increase your odds of eventually meeting with key decision-makers face-to-face. A decision-maker might be the CEO of a midsized manufacturing company, for instance. However, don’t discount the possibility that another attorney may be a helpful strategic partner or even a client in need of your specific subject-matter expertise.
For instance, assume that your tactic to get started on the path you set up with your strategy is “I will research and attend two hospital administrator conferences this year.” Another example of an effective strategy statement is, “I will network directly with successful attorneys in the healthcare provider area to obtain quality introductions at the hospital administrator level.”
Force yourself outside your comfort zone to come up with the most effective strategies, and limit yourself to only a few solid strategies to ensure you’ll meet your goals.
The third step in creating a networking plan is to pinpoint and write out specific tactics to ensure your strategies are properly executed. The most difficult part of developing new business is to effectively execute the strategies that you’ve outlined. The key here is to lay out the actions that will allow you to accomplish your networking strategies. Your tactics should provide a clear picture of how you’ll invest your networking time and the results you expect from these efforts.
Try using the following guidelines for drafting tactics:
- Aim for several specific tactics for each strategy.
- Think of each of your tactics in terms of three stages: planning, execution, and follow-through.
- Another way to approach this plan is to treat each tactic as a story. Compose each with a beginning, middle, and end, and add these components underneath the tactic as bullet points.
- Each tactic should answer at least two of the following questions: “Who, What, When, Where, How, or Why.” Take the time to actually ask yourself these questions as you’re drafting your legal networking goals. The more detail you include, the more actionable your tactics will be and the less likely you’ll be to skip any steps.
Working from a plan is always better than simply “winging it.” Everybody needs a path to follow with confidence, just as when you use a GPS to find your destination or use a recipe to make a great meal. You can waste a lot of time shaking hands and having coffee without getting any closer to your business development goals. A plan keeps you positive and focused on specific tactics. This will keep your networking activities more productive.