Question: When is the best time for an associate to start building a network?
You may be thinking: “but I’m too young or too new in practice to get clients.” While that may be true (I would argue this with some of you), you must start building a network as soon as you can. As I mentioned in my first “Associates Guide to Rainmaking: Why You Need To Start Rainmaking NOW!”, there are a whole host of reasons why building a network now will give you a head start on your future.
However, for this post, I am going to provide the how to build your network starting solely with the people you already know (the next post will be about how to reach out to those you don’t know to add them to your network).
Your network is a lot bigger than you think. Even if you are an introvert, you still have a network of people that you know. Start by making a list of every person you know.
- Your family
- Your extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.)
- Your friends from law school
- Your friends from college
- Your friends from high school
- Your doctors
- Your professors & teachers
- The owners of the businesses you frequent all of the time (if you don’t know their names, please introduce yourself and start saying hello every time you are in their place of business)
- Anyone you know not on this list
Find them on social media and just connect (you do not have to do anything else).
- Start with LinkedIn
- Facebook and Facebook business pages
- And any other social media site not listed that you are on.
This is a social media marketing term in which you just follow the people with whom you know and get to know them better. You don’t have to contribute at this time. Just find the people and see what they are posting. What are they interested in? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? Do you know what they do for a living?
You must keep building your relationships with people in order to build your network.
Just learn more about the network without actually “saying” (i.e. posting) anything.
Zig Ziglar once said: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want.”
By helping them, I do not mean just referring clients to them. When you are “listening” to your network you can help them with anything they need – including just providing them with information.
Let them know what you (and your firm) provide.
This is not meant as a commercial. This is just you telling them what you are up to these days. Find a way to let the network of your friends, family and peers know what you are doing that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.
This can be done on line by making sure that your profiles on the various social media sites say more than “I’m an attorney.” And please don’t think that just adding your practice area is going to be more effective. Saying “I’m a labor and employment lawyer,” for example, does not convey what you do to most people.
Your profiles should say who your ideal clients are and what you can do for them. So, for example, you could write: “I work with business owners in companies with more than 100 employees to make sure that employment matters don’t become legal issues.”
Take it off line.
Meet with your network face-to-face. And when you do, go back to steps 3, 4, and 5 and repeat in person.
“One and done” will never cut it as a relationship building technique and, the one thing you need to know is that rainmaking = relationships
To create relationships you need to put some effort into keeping in touch with your network on a regular basis. Send emails, texts, private messages; ask if they want the law firm’s newsletter; call them up to help them with something they need. You must keep building your relationships with people in order to build your network.
You already have a network of people that you know. While they may not need your services at this time, they may know someone who does. You want to make sure that the relationships you develop are strong enough to build the trust necessary that when they do need your help (or know someone who does) they feel comfortable enough to contact you.