legal careers

Documenting your networking efforts!

By Stephen Seckler, from the CounseltoCounsel Blog – great tips to help you maximize your networking efforts – in building your practice or finding a new position!

“I was speaking to one of my clients the other day and he described for me what he does any time he makes a court appearance.  At the end of the day, he goes back to his office and takes a few minutes to document what happened.  He has a longstanding practice of doing this and he always tries to do it the same days so that his memory is fresh. In effect, he has created a habit which ensures that he does not have to rely on his memory to keep track of his cases.

Many lawyers do this as a matter of course.  In fact  it is good practice whether you are a litigator or a transactional lawyer to generate file memos that are written after you have met with a client or interviewed someone on behalf of a client.  As lawyers, we are very good at documenting in our case work.

But when it comes to networking meetings, we forget to use the skills we use all the time in practicing law.  We do not prepare in the same way, and we do not take the time to document our activities (and calendar next steps).

This litigation client of mine has begun incorporating his regular business practices into his marketing activities.  After each networking meeting, he makes sure to write down notes about the conversation (including both personal and professional things he learned from the individual).   I am also encouraging him to “docket” a next step with that individual (if he deems the individual to be a potential referral source or client).

No one likes to take time to do this.  Tracking time, documenting what you have done and making a point of deciding on next steps before the day ends is all cumbersome.  But when it comes to relationship building, documenting is an invaluable activity that can help you greatly as you cultivate relationships over time.”

Getting past the fear factor

When you get right down to it, fear is probably the biggest obstacle to marketing success for most professionals. No one likes rejection and if you plan to ask anyone for business or referrals, the odds are very high you will experience a significant amount of rejection. In sales, for example, it may take 15 phone calls to reach five prospects which may result in two meetings. In other words, you may have to experience 13 rejections just to get two meetings.

And even if you get two meetings with potential clients or referral sources, it still may take 20 meetings to generate a significant piece of work. So if you do the math, you may need to make 150 phone calls or send 150 e-mail messages in order to set up those meetings.

That may seem like a daunting number. While that number will vary a lot based on the type of practice you have and the quality of the relationships you call upon, the bottom line is that in order to build a practice, you have to prepare yourself for a lot of rejection.

So what are some of the strategies you can use to soften the blow of the unanswered e-mails and phone calls? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Set a finite goal for the number of calls you will make in a day. Lower your expectations about how many responses you will get on a given day.
  2. Use your LinkedIn network to find second degree contacts who can make introductions on your behalf. Making cold calls is a tough way to build relationships. By leveraging your second degree contacts, you can overcome the trust issue much more quickly and find other professionals who are more inclined to speak with you.
  3. Measure your activity rather than your successes. You can’t control the outcome of your efforts to connect. But you can measure the number of calls you make. Focus on that number and reward yourself for your efforts, not for your actual successes.
  4. Start early in the day and make connecting a regular habit. If you think of relationship building as something that should be part of most work days, you will achieve the volume of contacts you need in order to find the opportunities you are trying to uncover.
  5. Try not to take the “rejection” personally. In many instances, it may take a few efforts to reach your prospect because he/she is already dealing with a high volume of e-mail and voicemail messages. In other words, remind yourself that it is not you. Your pleasant persistence will help cut through the noise and get you on his/her dance card. And he/she will appreciate your repeated efforts to connect.

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This excellent bit of advice from our Director of Attorney Recruitment & Career Advancement Stephen E. Seckler, Esq. to solos and small firms on marketing their practice applies just as easily to your job search! Create a strategy and stay consistent. Building relationships within the thriving, highly-interconnected Boston legal community is a key component in not just finding a position, but in building long term opportunities for a successful career!

A Career Audit Tool to Help You Self Assess

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I write a lot about relationship building, reputation building and the tools you need to market your law practice. For those of you who practice in a law firm setting (either as an associate or as a partner), there are some bigger issues you should also address in your career.

  • Does the law firm where you practice provide you with the right platform to be successful?
  • Does the firm where you practice provide you with the right level of professional satisfaction?

There will always be tradeoffs when deciding where to build your career. But, what are some other questions you should ask yourself in order to assess whether your platform is the “right” platform?

To assist you in this, I created a career audit tool.  It is a similar format to the other tool I created to help assess your overall marketing effectiveness.  Click on these links, complete the audits and receive a free 15 minute consultation.

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