If you’re like most people who go to events thinking they’ll drum up a ton of new business, you may find networking to be time-consuming, expensive and outright frustrating, especially if you’re a new attorney or professional representative. Striking up a great conversation and getting someone’s contact information is only part of the battle. What takes place afterwards matters most in terms of retaining new business – and this is what makes paying $500 to go to a networking dinner or a $2,000 conference worthwhile.
The following best practices will help you dramatically improve your results.
Step 1: Understand your target audience and venues
Okay…some say that you can network at any event. But, going to random events and trying to find consumers who need an attorney in your practice area is way too difficult. Instead, find a way to connect with other professionals who can refer business to you. Attorneys specializing in elder care and estate planning might want to meet financial planners who can refer clients their way. If so, you could consider attending events put on by the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Bankruptcy attorneys might want to network at the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers (AAML) events with family law attorneys whose clients often need help with bankruptcies after a divorce.
Step 2: Know who will be attending and target them
Before going to the event, be sure to identify specific people you’d like to meet and research their LinkedIn or other bios online beforehand so you have something to talk about. If you’re not sure who is attending, send out invitations to people you want to meet and invite them to connect with you at the event. If they are in that industry, chances are that they are going or will consider going to that local/regional event.
Step 3: Listen carefully and take notes
As soon as possible after meeting someone, jot down a few notes to help you remember them. You can do this quickly using your phone’s notepad or on the back of their business card. Note something that ties you to that person – something both fun and business related. For example, maybe you had a great discussion with a family law attorney about how similar your dogs are and the fact that she needed a bankruptcy attorney (like you) for her clients.
Step 4: Follow-up within 24 hours
Even before 24 hours – say the night after a conference – send the person you talked with a quick email. Remind her about your conversation and provide her with your contact information and suggest a time to connect.
Step 5: Connect on social media
At the same time you send the email, also send an invite to connect on LinkedIn. It’s easy nowadays to do this, and it also provides that person with information about your practice.
Step 6: Nurture the relationship
Keep the relationship going, even if you haven’t yet managed to connect by phone or in person. For the most part, this is easiest to do via email. In the “3 Simple Email Nurturing Tips for Retaining Clients” article, we explain just what to do.
Other Ways to Generate New Clients
While networking and referrals are always going to be important ways of gaining new clients, read on about some other ways to consider.
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