A friend of mine who is a lawyer asked me to write some networking tips that she could share with fellow attorneys at her firm. Believe me writing networking tips for lawyers wouldn't be the first audience I would think about but my friend is very special so this is what I wrote. I thought I would share them with a wider audience. The legal disclaimers are at the end.
- Networking is about developing relationships. It is not about selling. Business happens when mutually beneficial relationships are established over time. You don't ask people to marry you on the first date. There is a whole category in humor called lawyer jokes. Don't let your poor networking skills contribute to it. The types of folks that most people don't want to meet are lawyers and undertakers.
- Get off your crackberry. Don't become a lemming like everyone else standing in line at Starbucks reading their e mails oblivious to the people around them. Trust me; your next big client engagement is not going to come in the form of an email while you are waiting for your coffee. The Barista's mother could be the President of a bank. Talk to her and others around you. Networking is about an attitude of engagement not going to a networking event. You network everyday, not once a week.
- You must Rock and Roll on Linkedin. The average income of a Linkedin user is close to $100,000. It is the preferred social media platform for your prospects. Linkedin is a great prospecting tool and a great vehicle to improve your SEO. Make sure your profile is complete and detailed. Make sure that your photo doesn't look like a mug shot. Have lots of recommendations from previous clients. It let's others speak your praises versus you. Post updates on a daily basis. Google will reward you or ignore you. It is your choice.
- Networking takes work and preparation. To be really good at something you have to work at it. Do not go to network events at 5 minutes to noon if the event starts at noon. Go at 11:20 and read the name tags of people who will be attending. Introduce yourself to them when they pick up their name badges. Make sure you have lots of business cards in your hand and not your wallet. Do not sit with your friends. Standing around a bar with friends talking to people you know is not networking, it is socializing.
- Social media is not a fad. It is not just something that young people do. Companies who do not embrace change are left behind. Kodachrome film was a 15 billion dollar business for Kodak a decade ago. Now the only place that you can get Kodachrome film is in a Paul Simon song. People who do not embrace change become fads. Do not tweet about tacos. You use social media to distribute your thought leadership. Participation in social media will help your SEO and make you look like a voice of knowledge if you use its power. Use it in the wrong way and you will look like a poser.
- Your elevator speech doesn't matter because your chances of getting on an elevator with a decision maker are slim to nil but the chances of that person doing a Google search on you prior to engaging with you are certain. You need to own the first page of Google. Every posting. Social networking can help you achieve that. Don't believe me? Google Hank Blank to see.