How to leverage your legal services as a lawyer
Boost the power of your network to build more leverage
The fact that the world continuously changes is no news. The fact that we're transitioning from a competitive environment towards a collaborative one is also known. Collaboration is everywhere, and we'll agree on its benefits. In this article, we'll focus on networking and how to leverage your network - as a lawyer.
Many lawyers' nightmare is that while they despise networking, it is necessary to grow their business. Good lawyers often feel that their excellent work for current clients, alone, is enough to bring an advantage - that constant stream of solid referrals they're after.
Unfortunately, this is not how things work anymore. Your clients are busy and won't always remember you when someone in their network needs someone like you or a legal service you offer. Even if they keep you in mind, their networks are limited.
Before jumping on the way to leverage your networks, let's take some baby-steps here and remind ourselves what networking is.
We checked in the Oxford dictionary and here's the networking definition:
"the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts."
Take the necessary time and read it once again. Maybe one more time.
By repeating the networking definition, we'll end up reducing it straight to the fact that networking is connecting with other people. If we go further, we'll notice that we network every day - when we comment on LinkedIn, on Facebook or Instagram, when we email clients or when we chat at the hairstylist or grocery store.
What drives us to the action of networking is to try to understand the other person. It enables us to make a connection with each other. Actually, without making it intentionally, this networking allows you to connect in such an authentic way. It generates you trusted leads and referrals for one another to grow your businesses. Amazing, right? However, there are many professionals, especially independent lawyers, who aren't feeling comfortable to network. Why is that happening?
What blocks lawyers from networking and leverage their work
We noticed a couple of ways lawyers perceive networking within our community. Some of them aren’t helping their business. We understand that because they are introspective, introverted, and do not feel confident enough, they don't like it or are shy. Some of them are hindered by bad experiences, others are new to it, and on top of that there are two fears ghosting them:
- The fear of being seen as weak
There are two crucial aspects of this fear. Once they're understood, processed and accepted, the situation will look different. First, being seen is not the same as being weak. Secondly, asking for help is a proof of courage. And courage is necessary to show vulnerability.
- The fear of being criticised and judged.
When we ask for support, we do open ourselves to criticisms and potential attacks. We can be hurt with disapproval and judgment. However, because we do show ourselves vulnerable, we allow others to empathise and relate to us - those who willingly provide support.
If you relate to this, it will help you spend some time understanding what your beliefs and concerns are asking for help. Asking for help shows no weakness; it shows confidence and proactivity.
How to leverage your network
Before rushing into suggestions or to google, ask yourself: Who is my network?*
*no, it is not your LinkedIn connections, nor your website followers.
Remember earlier when we defined networking? Well, your network is a group of people with whom you have a relationship. Based on that hurry up, grab a piece of paper or open an editor and start adding those people, from the lady at the grocery store or the flower boutique you go to often, and end up with that colleague from your university or that lawyer with whom you've exchanged some ideas recently on a case.
Your network is the collection of people who can support you and your business, and it can vary in closeness levels.
Here's how to break it:
Industry - the other lawyers can be a threat or an opportunity to your business. It is entirely up to you to define that. However, have in mind how vital it can be for your business to cultivate relationships with your peers.
Clients - there's no better marketing for lawyers than to be referred by other clients, right? Well, no matter the industry, to stand up for your clients, it implies that besides your excellent legal services, you show genuine support - not to get attached to your clients, as it can impact your work, but to network with them. To understand them, their business, their network.
Friends - we tend not to involve our friends in our professional activities, but they remain one of our best networks. Your friends might be lawyers or not, but they know people as you do too. Imagine if someone asked you if you know a great photographer. In the same week, you just had coffee with a friend from your childhood whom you haven't seen for a long time, maybe only here and there on social, but now she was in town and contacted you to grab a coffee. That's how you found out that in the meantime, she became a wedding photographer. Will you recommend her or not?
Family - always remember that family is more than mom and dad, and you'll be surprised to find yourself at some big family event. Suddenly, your cousin from Canada with whom you haven't met since you were 15, finds out you're a lawyer.
Acquaintances - can be colleagues from your school, other parents from the kindergarten, or that group of people you met when travelling, your morning runners, yoga group, tennis players or sushi lovers.
Once you've finished with your list, have another look at your first category: the industry. Highlight those who can be your mentors, those who are decision-makers and the influencers.
Afterwards, go through these potential actions that you can undertake to connect with your network:
- Do a weekly catch-up with one of your peers and ask how it's going for them these days - perhaps you have a specific case you want to ask them or discuss.
- Call one of your clients - and ask them how are they, how's their business going, what are their struggles and what keeps them going these days?
- Organise a monthly event (maybe virtual) with your friends and do round-ups on catching up with their latest news.
- Ask your parents about your faraway siblings.
- Next time you meet your sports group or your hairdresser, be chattier than usual and be curious about them.
The key to networking for professionals is to be genuinely interested in the other networking partner. In the services sector, no matter the industry legal, medical, digital & so on, for successful service, one must care about the client and be there, listen, and help as much as possible.
Start drafting your plan to grow and leverage your network by asking yourself how you can better help or serve your clients and let the magic happen.
Avoteca platform is built on such a magic dream of helping lawyers thrive and grow their businesses, on one side. On the other side, to ensure that any freelancer, digital nomad, or small business has access to a database of successful and verified lawyers, who share their values and eagerness to thrive.
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Marketer & Community Manager
15 February 2021