Making the Most of Networking Events
Here are nine tips for transforming networking events into a business development tool.
- Evaluate invitations based on the likelihood that clients, prospective clients and referral sources will be there.
- Set a specific objective for each event. You might decide to reconnect with a former client, meet two in-house counsel, or conduct informal market research.
- Invite a client or prospect to attend the event with you. Even if they don't accept, it has given you a reason to contact them and stay on their screen.
- Formulate a response to the inevitable, "What's new?" Highlight something you want to promote about your practice, like an interesting matter you're working on, or your firm's recent merger.
- Use your client-focused marketing message to respond to "What do you do?" Rather than telling someone you are a bond lawyer, which is unlikely to encourage conversation, try something like "I help nursing homes and hospitals raise cheap, long-term money," instead.
- Arrive early. If you arrive as lunch is being served, you'll miss the best mingling time. If you're really pressed for time, show up during the reception, talk to a few people you don't know, and leave before lunch.
- Don't stay with people you know, unless they are clients, potential clients or referral sources. As one of my clients said, "If I'm talking to Dan (one of her partners), we're both wasting our time."
- Prepare three topics to talk about if there's a lull in the conversation. Better still, think of three good questions you can ask people you meet.
- Follow up with those you meet. What good does it do if you connect with all those people but don't stay in touch? Follow up with an article, an invitation to lunch or just a "nice to have met you" e-mail.
Sara Holtz is founder of ClientFocus, a coaching and training company that helps successful lawyers become successful rainmakers. Visit ClientFocus to learn about her coaching and workshops. She is also the founder of the Women Rainmakers Roundtable, a unique program that brings together successful women partners to build their books of business. Find out more about the program by reading her blog.