Smart Rainmakers Just Don't Network at the Bar Association

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Time is simply something none of us have. Therefore, you need to work smart. The sum total of your efforts must bring in new business. Make sure you are connecting with the right people, who can help you. Constantly assess what is working, and what is not.

Organizations are a great way to build new relationships that can bring in new business. An obvious choice is the Bar Association. "As a legal recruiter, I cringe every time when I hear this. Is the only place you are networking? Why you ask? Why would you put yourself in the mix with your peers to slug it out to win new business when you can find more fulfilling and better ways to make it rain?" — Shari Davidson, On Balance Search Consultants.

How do you choose a group? What is your practice area and who are your clients? Ask yourself where and who you should network with before you join a group.

Follow these steps to ensure you pick the right group:

I. CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS VALUES

A great place to start is your mission statement. Don't have a business plan? Get one. Clarifying your mission will help you see the natural connection between your organization and a potential new partner.

II. DETERMINE THE CRITERIA FOR THE POTENTIAL NEW GROUP

Consider criteria such as the size of the organization, the age of the organization and whether the type of group:

Non-Compete Groups

Referral groups like BNI and Gotham offer non-compete exclusivity. Being the only lawyer in the group can be advantageous. But don't just jump in, consider who is in the group first? If the group is a bunch of Mary Kay Representatives or Landscapers, this may not be a good source of new business for you.

Professional Groups

Consider partnering with other trusted providers such as Attorney Accountant Networking Groups (AANG). These groups, as well as CPA and Insurance firms, Architects, Engineers, and yes, Bar Associations may have sub committees that don’t only have attorneys in them. Like, WE CARE Fund, (the nationally recognized charitable arm of the Nassau County Bar Association) may also generate a steady stream of new clients.

Hybrid Groups

USA 500 club is a professional networking group of attorneys’, CPA’s and trusted advisors who sit at the Board table of corporations. Join this group.

Industry Associations

What are the new trends in legal work? Get creative. Research associations that match up with your practice area of law. Consider women's groups or new burgeoning fields such as cybersecurity. Consider verticals that require your expertise. Build-outs in construction need attorneys well versed in mapping out the legal commercial legalese for everything from airports, dams and tunnels. Other verticals to consider are hotels, restaurants, strip malls or sports complexes. Your competitors are not going to be working these niche industries. Stand out and become the leading authority in these fields of law.

Personal Social Groups

Let your interests and passions guide you. Perhaps you are an avid bowler, cyclist or runner. Do you have a passion for art, history, or horses? These networks may prove to be a major new source of business. Political organizations can be a good place, just remember this can also backfire. Let's face it, everything is political. Steer clear of politics.

Charitable Organizations

Shari Davidson, " As a member of the American Heart Association Charitable Estates Committee, I routinely interface with attorneys, CPA's, insurance agents and many other trusted advisors on the council. Groups like this are a great place to align your brand or firm, and can be a fulfilling experience leading to forging new friendships and new business.”

There are so many reasons why you should put yourself within a powerful network that has, "the resources, tools, and experience to help the professional community ... creating an impactful win-win for all.” said Ed Rodbro, Sr. Advisor Charitable Estate Planning for the American Heart Association.

Start building strong relationships and establish yourself as an expert in your field of law. Working with a charity can become a fulfilling way to further the mission of your organization while helping your community.

III. SELECT AN ORGANIZATION WHOSE VALUES ARE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR OWN

Ask yourself if you like the organization’s board members? Do you feel comfortable working with them? If an organization makes you feel uneasy, then trust your gut. Move on.

Don't waste time and money getting to know a group that can't help you. Look at the metrics, trends, and risk mitigation when assessing where to source new business. There is more to networking than securing the mailing list from the business chamber.

Nurturing relationships takes time, set yourself up for success. Get to know one or two contacts at an event. Don't try and get everyone's business card. Take an interest in who you meet, learn more about what they do, what's important to them and make sure you remember them. Invariably you're going to meet up with that person again. Leverage these new relationships.

Keep a small notepad with you or use an app on your smartphone to take notes. Ideas will pop into your head when chatting with a friend or networking at an event. Write it down, that way you won't forget. You are a resource and expert in your field, you often are asked for your assessment and opinion on an issue. Make a note. You are now well on your way to penning that new article or writing a that book you’ve been talking about.

Once you've selected the right groups to network with, you've got to make the most of your time to bring in the business.

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