The hot topic on everyone’s mind at the moment (unless you’re in the US and then it’s pretty evenly split between politics and germs). I almost hate to join the fray and discuss it, but with so many events being cancelled, and travel restrictions being enacted, I wanted to add some suggestions for how to continue networking during this time, so that you don’t lose momentum on your relationship building efforts.

For some of us, travel and events still move forward. Travel guidance varies – it depends on your destination and the size of the gathering. Common sense and good hygiene are essential, and for our group, we’ll be instituting what we’re fondly referring to as “Operation Fist Bump” at our upcoming Annual Conference (which may be further downgraded to “Operation Wave Hello.”

However, we live in an age where technology enables us to keep in touch without having to come into physical contact. So if you are either in a region that is locked down due to the virus’ outbreak, or you are taking precautions, there are still some things you can do to continue your relationship-building plans without risking your health.

  • Set up meetings using Zoom or Skype: It can be tempting to either straight up cancel your travel/meetings/conferences, or replace them with a phone call, but instead, substitute them with a video call. It’s not exactly the same as if you were in a room together, but it allows you to connect in a stronger way than only a phone call. Also, it’s a decent substitute while you wait for the health crisis to abate and can begin to resume your travel and meetings again. You get the benefit of seeing someone’s face and body language, while still remaining separated by a screen.
  • Join conferences the same way: If some of the conferences you were scheduled to attend are still moving forward, but you’re not going, reach out to the organizers to see if they can patch you in via video. For larger conferences, you may only be able to watch and not participate, but it does allow you to feel somewhat connected to the content. Use this opportunity to also request the attendee list and follow up with one-on-one video meetings with key delegates, so that you can “network” with them, despite not having attended the conference in person. Ask them about their key takeaways from the event, and be prepared to share your own based on the content that you observed.
  • Ramp up your social media efforts: You are already online looking up news on the virus (I know you are), so spend some of that time connecting with your contacts instead. Review your connections on your various platforms and do a few key things:
    • Identify anyone that you haven’t reached out to recently that you should reconnect with, and send them an invitation for a video conference chat. If you want to make it over coffee or lunch, do that in your office/home office and bond over self-quarantining.
    • Make a list of potential clients that you’d like to get to know better, and reach out to them on social media. Connect with them on LinkedIn, and do some additional research on the types of things they’re posting and sharing. Follow their company pages and see what they’re posting.
    • Make it a practice to reach out to 5-10 people a day on LinkedIn – either share an article they’ve authored, comment on a status update they’ve shared, send them a note with a video meeting request, or a request to connect. Use the time that you would be spending on in-person networking to do more online networking.
    • Explore some of the other social media platforms out there to see if your clients are there – do you have clients using Twitter? Facebook? Snapchat? Instagram? If they’re not hanging out in those places, don’t worry, you don’t have to either. But if you have clients that are using and engaging on those networks, it’s worth knowing about them – you can monitor their accounts for research purposes, help them to understand any issues that may arise based on their usage of those platforms, and if you would like, actually engage with them there yourself.

You may be spending more time in your office or working from home over the next few months because of Coronavirus, but it doesn’t mean that your networking efforts have to be suspended. As long as you get creative about the ways in which you approach your reaching out to “touch” someone, you’ll stay connected AND healthy. And remember, more handwashing and less handwringing!

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.