Much as I love to blog and participate in social media, I must confess that most of my clients still come the old-fashioned way: through personal referral. That doesn’t mean that I’ll stop blogging, Facebook or Twitter any time soon, since those activities reinforce my credibility and support my in-person networking. After all, it’s much easier to simply toss out my Twitter handle when I meet a potential referral source instead of always carrying a stack of business cards.
Well maybe. Because many of the people whom I interact with still aren’t on Twitter and won’t be any time soon. In order to capture these prospects, it’s still necessary to abide by conventional approaches even in a twenty-first century world. And with that said, below are some tips to help you brush up on your networking skills.
Don’t Be Looking in All the Wrong Places Selecting the appropriate venue for networking is critical as Los Angeles attorney Lee Rudnicki advises in the LA Times. Rudnicki, who practices entertainment law spent his networking time at bar association events, schmoozing with lawyers who were actually his competition. Rudnicki found better results when he attended parties with filmmakers and others in his target client base.
Time, Place and Manner Some venues – like funerals, for example, are simply off limits for networking. You’d think this would be obvious, but as a PR expert in this NJ.com article points out, she observed one colleague glad-handing at a funeral. Other common mistakes of networking includes focusing on yourself instead of inquiring about the other person’s needs. And while it’s good to follow up and keep in touch, many networkers make the mistake of asking for work – either a job or new business – as soon as they meet someone, which can make for an uncomfortable situation.
How the Meek May Inherit Business Through Networking Though networking comes naturally to some, for shy, introverted individuals, meet-and-greet parties can be a torture. LegalJob.com offers some suggestions, including getting involved in an association where the focus is on working together rather than small talk, following up to meet people one-on-one and using email to help schedule get togethers.
Never Eat Lunch Alone You’ve heard Keith Ferrazzi’s famous book, never eat lunch alone. That advice still holds true, particularly for young lawyers like Michael Siri who offers this advice in the Daily Record.
The best way to network is to reach out to people, ask for assistance, offer assistance, and to not keep tabs of either. Go out and meet people. When you are going to an event, make sure you know who is going and do some research on the people you should meet (but not to the extent that it will be considered stalking). Build personal relationships.
Do you still network face to face? And what approaches work best for you?