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HOW NOT TO BE SELF ABSORBED ABOUT NETWORKING

HOW NOT TO BE SELF ABSORBED ABOUT NETWORKING

Networking, as we know, is a skill you can learn but one that people sometimes hate to have to do. There is so much to think about – how much to drink (or not to drink), where are the business cards, who are the important people to meet etc.

However the so called ‘soft skills’ needed for personal and professional development are not soft at all – they are human characteristics that will take you far, and can be applied equally as successfully to networking. Here are some tips to sue these ‘soft skills’

 

Keep your eye out for someone on their own at networking events

Is there someone not in a group? Ask them to join you. Can you notice someone standing awkwardly to one side? Turn and make room for them to join your group.

 

Be on time, or even better, early

Being always late is just rude – it delays others, delays decisions and destroys trust. And that is just at work! Vow to be on time, and plan to be early. Being early to networking events means that you are able to join conversations early – and we use the word conversation deliberately – it is a two way thing not about you talking about someone

 

Connect people because you can

If you know two people who would like each other, or work well together, or who have mutual business interests – introduce them. In person is grat , but email after the vent is just as useful. I can’t tell you how many business relationships have been built on something as simple as this.

 

Don’t just collect business cards

There is no need to keep a collection of business cards – if you’re given one, connect on LinkedIn and put the details straight into your contacts. use the tag and notes function in LinkedIn, and the notes field in contacts. Send an email following the introduction to et up a meeting or just to say thank you.

 

Connecting on LinkedIn afterwards

To be completely honest, getting a ‘I’d like to add you to professional network on LinkedIn’ message is boring – although I admit I do make allowances for people who hit the ‘connect’ button o mobile devices and the message goes automatically because I have done it myself. Always go to the person’s LinkedIn profile and connect from there as it allows you to add a personal message, for example – “It was lovely to meet you last night at xx event, and I’d like to add you to my professional network etc’

 

Remember – networking is not just about what you can get

Networking is also about what value you can provide to others and developing relationships. One of my favourite stories is of a young graduate lawyer offering a lift to someone at the airport in a long taxi queue. They exchanged cards as the man wanted to end him a note. Turns out he was the CEO of a large listed company and they stayed in touch, mostly by email but occasionally saw each other at events. Ten years after the initial taxi ride that large company listed and the young graduate was by that stage a senior associate at a mid tier firm. Guess who won the tender for the IPO over the big nationals? And guess who became a partner on the back of winning that work? That initial act of kindness developed into a lifelong client relationship – but it started 10 years after the initial contact.

 

Networking really is all about people – remember to use your soft skills not necessarily your selling skills for success.

Business Development Is Your Responsibility

The legal profession has a long history and some members of the profession can remember the days (somewhat fondly) before advertising, marketing and business development were words associated with a professional service. Work came from existing clients and people they told.Business-Development

Today, the challenges facing the profession, and individual lawyers – including globalisation, specialisation, the number of practising lawyers competing for work – mean that marketing and business development are skills that must be learnt.

Marketing and Business Development for lawyers and law firms is increasingly important in what can only be described as a very competitive market – for the service you give your clients needs to be coupled with a strategic approach to building your own and your firm’s profile, and what you can do for clients, and actually develop existing clients and bring in new clients as well.

What’s the difference?

Business development and marketing are not interchangeable terms and they have quite distinct responsibilities in a legal environment.

Marketing is about the promotion of the services you offer and establishing within your target market what your point of differentiation will be. Marketing involves things like advertising, website content, blogs, brochures, and public relations activities.

Business Development on the other hand is a strategic activity that focuses, on particular clients or industries. It is about networking, building connections and referral networks, strengthening existing relationships and cross referrals.

More and more, lawyers need to be very strategic about obtaining and retaining clients. Work doesn’t just come in the door, or over the phone. Even if you are currently very busy, you will need a ‘pipeline’ of work down the track to keep being busy and to maintain profitability.

Your clients are not buying a transaction from you, or your expertise. They are paying you to solve a problem or make something happen for them. Thinking about what you do to solve your clients’ problems will be integral to how you market yourself and develop business – because it is actually not about you, but your clients.

Most lawyers, unless they have done so as part of another degree, will not have studied anything to do with marketing or business development, and may be tempted to think that this is the responsibility of someone else. The truth however is that regardless of the size of the firm for whom you work, or your level of expertise, you have a responsibility for business development. It is a skill that can and should be learned.

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person

There is never a guaranteed path to success, but there are certain habits that will make us become more effective in the workplace (and perhaps also in our personal lives). As we are constantly on the quest to improve ourselves, here are some tips which will help make your worklife more productive and successful.Effective people

  1. A “To-Do List”

Always start your day with a “to-do list”. Writing down what needs to be done and what you wish to accomplish by the end of the day helps you to prioritise the most important tasks. Start the list with the most important, more urgent tasks.

  1. It’s all about priorities

It is not always possible to complete everything on your “to-do list”, we are only human after all. Always prioritize the tasks that you need to accomplish in the day so that you always make sure you are completing the most important tasks.

  1. Don’t Procrastinate

Never, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Effective and successful people do not procrastinate in completing their tasks, even the less glamorous tasks.

  1. “Go and clean your room”

A messy desk is not always a sign of creativity. It’s probably more a sign of a lazy person and is never conducive to being productive. Having an organised desk, a clean working environment (as well as a clean living environment) means you are never wasting time searching for ‘lost items’ and procrastinating in completing your “to-do list”.

  1. Visualisation is not just for the ‘new age’

Visualisation is a mental technique that uses the imagination to make dreams come true. Highly successful people use visualisation to attract prosperity and make their career goals come true. Each day, visualise what you want to accomplish that day, and then think of the steps that are necessary to achieve those tasks. Repeat this every day.

  1. Never stop networking

In today’s social media world, connecting with people has never been more easier. For highly successful people, connecting and networking is as important as eating and drinking. It’s necessary for business survival. Networking can open many doors. Do not be discouraged if the results are not immediate, networking takes time and we all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  1. Breathe and Recharge

To be effective and successful, every-one needs to fit in some time to recharge the batteries and boost their energy levels. A life of all work and no play is not sustainable long-term. Whether it be exercise, meditation, cooking, photography, always make time for relaxation and hobbies.

Conversely, bad habits that make us ineffective set us up for failure. Here are my top 3 ineffective habits to get rid of sooner rather than later.

  1. Not setting goals

It is important to establish goals, think about what you want and the direction your life is taking.

  1. Refusing Advice

You should always be appreciative of sound advice from experts, family or friends. Highly ineffective people rarely do. Even though in the end you may not follow their advice, thinking of as many pros and cons means your decision making would have been a well thought out process and you will be comfortable with the decision. Highly ineffective people ignore sound advice at their own peril.

  1. Overanalysing Everything

Highly effective people are doers. Highly ineffective people spend too much time thinking and overanalysing and not enough time doing. Always take time to plan, prepare and set goals. Then put the plan into action. Don’t worry about what others may think of your goals. Don’t overanalyse. Just put your goals into action.

How to decide what networking events to attend

WOULD YOU GO TO THE OPENING OF AN ENVELOPE?  HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NETWORKING EVENTS.

Networking is a vital skill needed for all professionals wanting to increase their profile. You will be invited to a myriad of different events and activities – breakfasts, lunches, dinners, keynote speaking events, drinks, cocktails, seminars and learning & development opportunities.  But how do you choose which ones to attend?Networking events 2

Here is our simple guide of things to think about before you accept that invitation, or in some cases spend money, or your employer’s money:

  • If it is a legal seminar, is it in your area of expertise or related to it?  Or is it an area where you can cross sell your expertise?
  • Will a colleague who needs support be speaking?
  • Will a client, or a potential client, be speaking or attending?
  • Is the intended audience just lawyers, or other professionals in the area?
  • Who will be there – ask the organiser for information on the type of person they are hoping to attract (they won’t give you names but may give you information you can work with)
  • Is the speaker of interest?
  • Will you learn something for yourself, which you can use or pass on to the firm on your return?
  • Will the event add value to your practice or personal development?  Can you identify the ways it will do that?
  • Will you be able to meet new people and more importantly have an opportunity to speak with them and ‘sell’ yourself.
  • Make sure the event matches up with your personal brand – what is it that you want to be known for as a professional?

And finally – here is a great tip from a senior female in the legal profession, for whom networking is both purposeful and fun:

“I keep a record not only of what I attend and why, but what I don’t attend and why and review this on a quarterly and annual basis.  This helps me see if I am giving my time and attention to the same things, and people, and if I am rejecting the same sorts of invitations.  It means I can assess if what I am attending is adding value, and more importantly, what I am not attending and what I might be missing out on.”

I think that is great advice, don’t you?

Mastering Networking for Career Development

A lot of professional people shudder at the mere mention of networking – what some regard as an important exercise for business development, others regard as a chore.  Networking can be fun and entertaining and business can be found in the most unlikely of places, especially if you approach it in the right way (it is not just about ‘getting’ business but about giving something of yourself as well).Networking2

If you seriously want to develop your career you have to master the art of networking, take it seriously and use it to build and maintain relationships.  Promotion will depend, in part, on your ability to do so.

First of all, networking is not just about attending events and conferences, although these types of events are important and the most common. Networking could be about the people you strike up a conversation with at the gym, on the sidelines at the kids’ soccer, or at the pub on a Friday night.  So think about all the places you go where you meet people and have a conversation for the first time. All of those people are potential future clients, believe it or not.  We know many people who have developed business through chance encounters on a plane for example, or at a school P&F meeting.

But traditional networking is about events and conferences and many of these are with professional bodies.

If you are deciding what professional bodies to join, try not to join or only attend functions run by professional bodies whose only members are from the same profession.  You will want to be a member of professional bodies that are multi-disciplinary to meet people who work in a different profession but in a similar industry.

Be ready with a short explanation of what you do when someone asks that question.  Answering ‘I’m a lawyer’ for example is not very helpful and frankly might invite pity depending on how you say it.  Instead, say for example, ‘I’m a lawyer and business adviser – I work in commercial and property transactions and I really enjoy the work I do with clients’.  People will remember that, especially if it is said with enthusiasm.

Whenever you meet someone, take their card or write down their details.  Connect on LinkedIn, and if it is a potential business opportunity, follow up with an email asking to catch up for a coffee or lunch.  You never know where this will take you.  The worst that can happen is that they either ignore the request or say ‘no’ – and if that happens, you are in no worse position than if you had done nothing.  This takes courage and a new mindset, but if you’re serious, you will make yourself do it.

Keep a record of events you go to or networking opportunities you have had, and also very importantly the ones you have knocked back.  If you review this on a quarterly and annual basis you might begin to see a trend – are you attending the same type of events and meeting the same people?  Are you saying no to events or opportunities because you may not know anyone there?  Actively reviewing this lets you know when you need to step outside your comfort zone and try something new.

Networking can be as simple as saying ‘hello’ and taking it from there.

Stamina – Christmas is just around the corner

‘We must catch up before Christmas’ someone says to you on the phone as you open yet another email with an invitation to a pre-Christmas drinks function, and your heart sinks.Stamina

Networking has never been more important, to raise your profile and that of your firm, and build your personal brand.  At this time of year, it seems that you could be networking full time and not doing any actual work.  Leave aside the fact that you need time to purchase Christmas gifts and plan for lunch with relatives.

So it is important to maintain your equilibrium and stamina at this time of year, and also maintain your focus.

Work is still important and must remain your main focus – keep the Christmas break in mind as you work through the days until you can have a break.  Make a task list at the beginning of each day and review it at the end of the day and week.  Just like 30 June, 24 December is usually a deadline for a lot of clients wanting their work done so that they can enjoy the break too!

Choose your events carefully – there will be many invitations coming through the mail, email and social media, and these will not just be work related.  Ask yourself if you need to say ‘yes’ to all of them?  If work related, will clients be there?  If no one’s feelings are going to be hurt and it feels like it is just ‘one more thing’ you need to attend you should probably politely decline.  If it is a friend you haven’t seen for a while, suggest a catch up early in the New Year when it is a bit quieter, and set a date for that.

Look at your diary carefully – if you have already accepted three invitations in a week, a fourth will probably be too much.  Look at your diary as well for work related deadlines – going out for Christmas drinks to be followed by karaoke is also fraught with danger if you have a major deadline the following day.

Keep an eye on consumables – and by this we mean your weight.  Drinks and canapés are plentiful and you will gain weight if you are not careful.  Just having three drinks is the equivalent of an entire extra meal, so rethink the cheese platter at the end of the night.

On that note try and get exercise at the beginning of the day.  Not only will it help keep the weight down, it will clear your mind and give you energy for the day ahead.

Only 4 weeks to go – you can do it!