How to become an effective legal networker

AgreementsWhat makes for good social networking? Kim Tasso, an independent consultant to professional service firms, explores different routes for networking with law firms, and offers some practical guidance and tips with interviewer Diana Bentley.

What is the rationale and aim of good networking? What kinds of expectations should firms have about networking?

People buy people. So you need to get yourself in front of the right sorts of people to create and build your network—of clients, potential clients, influencers and referrers.

Networking can be of the traditional kind— shaking hands and meeting people for the first time at an event—or, these days, it is often online where you start or develop your relationship through a social media platform.

Networking can be considered a distinct strategy for keeping in touch efficiently with a number of existing clients and contacts or for establishing connections with a number of the right sort of people at an industry or specialist event. But for some it is a way of life and the main way in which they gather market knowledge, keep their profile front of mind, reconnect with old friends and meet new people.

While I usually advise people to regard networking as a long-term, slow-burn strategy, there are occasions when it generates immediate results. But typically, you must expect to sustain networking activity as you build your knowledge and profile and start to use it as a way to build and maintain your base of existing and new contacts.

What are the various avenues for networking for law firms?

There is a huge range of avenues of networking and what will be appropriate for the firm will depend on a number of factors like whether they are working or aim to work in a particular sector, whether they want to get close to a particular group of people—like finance directors or in-house counsel, whether they are a local firm or aim to extend their reach nationally or internationally.

In any event, there’s really no substitute for getting in front of people—although it takes time, needs careful research to find the right sorts of events and is more challenging when trying to reach the most senior people or those that are based in overseas territories.

Social media has revolutionised networking. I’ve seen some firms grow from nothing by using a strategic, sustained and personal approach to Twitter. And there are plenty of high profile lawyers who owe their fame and ‘rock star’ status to the skilful use of LinkedIn.

How should firms select the best and most appropriate methods for them?

Effective networking is down to two key ingredients—strategy and skills. You need to have a thoroughly well-thought through business development plan and know which channels—both off and online—will be best to reach your target clients.

Networking is usually only one part of the mix—you will need to integrate it with other promotional and relationship techniques as well. Think about the content you have and see networking as just one of the channels for distribution. Then you need to have the relevant skills to network effectively and efficiently—otherwise you can waste a lot of time. Confidence and commitment are also important.

Do you have any practical tips for good networking?

There are favourite strategies such as ‘the sheep dog’ (rounding up stragglers at the edges) and ‘loose threes’ (approaching those who are in groups of three) and ‘giver’s gain’ (sharing your knowledge and promoting others without expecting an immediate pay-back). But the most important tip is to be clear why you are there, your key messages and to have a sincere interest in other people.


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