Over the course of 2020, one thing is certain - we've never seen so little of each other. Faced with a lack of in-person events, networking has become seemingly impossible for the average law firm owner. But is there a way to create valuable digital communications and expand your network?Our podcast guest Jordan Harbinger certainly thinks so. Jordan is a master at keeping his warm leads warm and building up his impressive contact list. He's the first to encourage networking all-day-every-day, just so long as you do it in the right way.Jordan says networking is all about giving without expecting anything in return. If you get something out of your outreach, then it's a win-win situation, but your primary goal should be a genuine, altruistic connection.With that in mind, here are a few rules to fly by to boost your networking during the pandemic!
“The inability to be with friends and loved ones who aren’t under the same roof during a stressful and scary time has pushed individuals to be creative with technology that is more often used for business meetings.” - Wall Street Journal
Rule 1: Don't Neglect Your Old Network
You shouldn't even consider reaching out to new contacts if you can't keep track of your current ones! Your established network is your center of influence. They come out to bat for you, they're there when you need them and, let's face it, they make you look good.You don't want to find yourself searching through a reel of contacts to find that one attorney you met at a conference 3 years ago in order to ask their opinion on something. Equally, you want your name to pop up next time someone's looking for an attorney to, say, quote in an article.Stay in front of mind for them, and keep them in front of mind for yourself, and you can't go far wrong.
Rule 2: Digital Doesn't Mean Different
As we discussed before in relation to networking on LinkedIn, the same rules apply to digital networking as they would any other regular networking event.If you're reaching out to someone, you should be clear about your objectives. If you have a specific outcome in mind, then don't bait and switch! You wouldn't discuss offering a lawyer guest blog spot with someone at a conference and then try and get them into your sales funnel (or maybe you would, but should you?). All of this rings true for digital networking. If anything, the format of video calls and text communication sets alarm bells ringing even quicker than in real life!Top things to keep in mind when cold-contacting someone by email:
- Ask yourself what you really want from this communication
- Be upfront about why you are contacting them
- Make sure your request is valuable for them, or at the very least not wasting their time
- Be appreciative before, during, and after your exchange
Rule 3: Virtual Conference Networking
The idea would have seen bizarre to most attorneys in 2019, but over the past year, most of us have dipped our toes into the world of virtual conferences. There are a couple of things you can do to make the most of these.Firstly, if you're appearing on a panel or a session, think of ways that you can bring value as an attorney. Show up with your A-game, engage in stimulating discussion, and keep a note of names to follow up with via social media or email later.Secondly, it's totally acceptable to contact other conference attendees even if you haven't joined them on a session. If you work in similar markets or practices, reach out. Most professionals are missing the serendipitous face-to-face encounters with our peers, and hearing from them virtually is a way to bridge that gap.
Rule 4: Think Outside The Box
Many attorneys believe that there just aren't enough digital networking opportunities out there. While that may be true, you can flip this problem if you start to approach every digital encounter as a networking opportunity.As Jordan Harbinger explained on The Rankings Podcast, your network isn't about immediate gains. In a way, you really do want to just be collecting names (and of course, following up with them - see rule 1!). In fact, I'm sure there are many law firm owners who wish they had a few more social media gurus and SEO champions in their Rolodex at the start of the pandemic!