How can lawyers use networking as an effective BD tool?

This is what networking is all about – establishing a connection and nurturing it into a long–term meaningful association.
Lawyers in a conference hall
Lawyers in a conference hall

Just like your personal life, your professional life too is a sum of your relationships. Networking is the ultimate key to boosting business. And it is not just about meeting people at events and accumulating contacts.

A meet and greet at an event should not be a one and done. Instead of collecting tons of business cards at huge gatherings, what is more important is having a handful of meaningful conversations. Start making authentic connections with people without expecting immediate commercial benefits in return.

Introducing yourself is important, but finding out about the other person, knowing what they do, and how they do it, is paramount. This fosters a genuine rapport and enhances the chance of people remembering you and reaching out to you in the future.

This is what networking is all about – establishing a connection and nurturing it into a long–term meaningful association. Remember, your network is equal to your net worth!

How to network effectively at events

  • Transformational > Transactional

    Look at networking as a transformational process rather than a transactional game. Networking was once about power and who you know. Now, it is about building relationships naturally. If you are keen on building a network and not a connection, embracing the transformational route is the key. Just value people and try to create a difference in their lives. By choosing the transformational route, you do not have to worry about transactions. They will naturally fly in!

  • Be a giver, not a taker

    People might assume that a taker outperforms a giver. It is smart to focus on yourself at work, but you can succeed and get ahead by helping others and being a giver. According to Wharton professor and author of Give and Take, Adam Grant, the key to building a social network is to be a giver. The book highlights that giving is valued and selflessness always pays off.

  • Create authentic relationships

    Your strong personal brand helps you to stand out from the crowd. Always remember that authenticity resonates with people like nothing else. Relationships built on the foundation of authenticity go a long way. Therefore, be your true self at these gatherings. Do not pretend to be someone you are not.

Networking events for lawyers

“How can we grow our practice?” is the most common question that lawyers/law firms discuss. Most of the lawyers, whether they are seasoned or just starting out, would agree that having a network is essential for business growth. Networking contributes to long-term success. Hence, it is the foundation of winning business.

There are networking opportunities everywhere – from large gatherings to one-on-one interactions. The key is to recognise those opportunities and not to miss them. Today, there are conferences on every possible niche topic. There is a plethora of conferences, seminars and events in the legal industry where lawyers/law firms can participate to showcase their practice and develop relationships.

Attend in-person events

While virtual events have made networking easier than ever before, face-to-face events continue to be an essential tool for professional growth and building relationships. Undoubtedly, one can form a much stronger and authentic connection in a face-to-face event. These events involve great costs for participation, but are worth it.

For a law firm, it is essential to have a clear understanding of its goals and positioning before engaging in networking opportunities. To help lawyers navigate through networking opportunities, we at Commwiser have developed a tool to help lawyers easily shortlist events, by critically examining factors like practice importance, venue, organisers, sponsors, visibility the firm will receive, etc.

Lawyers can also look at mentoring in educational events/knowledge sessions. This is a great way of positioning yourself and your firm as a thought leader in the market.

Create your own events

What about getting out there in your own community and hosting events? Hosting an event is a good way to grow your business, highlight your presence and engage with the community.

Who doesn't like to have a good time? People like opportunities where they can come, have conversations and form prosperous partnerships.

  • Small events such as business lunches/dinners

  • Mid-sized events with small group of industry peers, clients, or colleagues

  • Host large events like grand opening parties, conversations and cocktails, etc.

Physical events and meetings have their own set of advantages and are difficult to replace. But a firm must opt for a hybrid model to get business.

Virtual networking

Due to COVID-19, work from home and virtual networking events have gained immense significance. These events offer a major advantage by enabling global participation and transcending geographical, cultural and other barriers. They provide an opportunity to connect, learn and collaborate with individuals from anywhere in the world.

In today's digital age, people can easily find information about you online. Hence, your identity enters a room before you do. Clients judge whether to work with you based on what they see and how they perceive you. Virtual sessions, seminars, workshops, etc. have become quite common. They are easy to join from anywhere in the world.

Firms invest significant resources in hosting in-person events, but many fall short when it comes to achieving the desired strategic value. If your law firm is ready to invest time and money in hosting an event, then you should strive for excellent execution. To develop your practice and achieve an excellent event experience, you must collaborate with a public relations agency specialising in law who can capture your needs and support you with their legal community relations.

Bhumika Kohli is the Manager at Commwiser Consultants LLP.

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