In this week’s post, rainmaking expert and coach, Jaimie Field continues her discussion from last week on using the rainmaking cycle to become a rainmaker!

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Exactly as I began the last Rainmaking Recommendation, so I reiterate:

The Rainmaking Cycle is a continuous circuit that is about 3 things:

  • Creating visibility and becoming known as an authority in the field of law that you practice – this is known as Marketing yourself and your services;
  • Meeting people – whether in person or virtually – who want or need your services or who know people who want or need your services – this is known as Networking; and
  • Creating relationships in which you are the obvious choice to help them — and this is the Rainmaking part of the equation.

In the last Rainmaking Recommendation we discussed marketing, today we discuss networking.

Recently, this is a topic that I have been discussing and presenting upon incessantly. And it is a favorite topic of mine because I truly believe that Networking is the best, and most cost-effective tactic for building your book of business that you can use.

Specifically, I have been performing an ethics CLE* presentation entitled:  A Lawyer’s Guide to Ethically Networking in a Virtual World, as well as writing about it for Legal Business World (page 64), a magazine which is devoted to the legal industry.

Networking:

When Covid-19 affected the world by causing everyone to quarantine themselves, many lawyers who were used to networking live and in-person didn’t know what do to.  No more golf outings, no more conferences, no more association events, and even no more coffee or lunch dates.  As a result, many attorneys didn’t know what to do. But regardless of whether you are going to in-person events or virtually meeting others, the key is to meet others.

I have often used this definition of networking both in articles and in seminars/webinars because it is an apt characterization.

John Naisbitt, in his 1982 book Megatrends, wrote:

“Networks are people talking to each other, sharing ideas, information, and resources.”

He also went on to say that

“ . . . networking is a verb, not a noun.  The important part is not the network, the finished product, but the process of getting there – the communication that creates the linkages between people and clusters of people.”

Now I believe that networking and the networks you create are equally important, but Naisbitt has a point about the process of getting there.

Networking is the art and science of developing relationships that will turn into new business and is the essence of Rainmaking.  People do business with people they know, like, and trust is a truism that doesn’t stop just because you cannot network in person.   But networking virtually, and being able to create the relationships you need is not the same as doing it in person.

And, even when in-person networking is available again, the Genie has been let out of the bottle.  We will continue using virtual tools – not only to meet new people but also to help strengthen those connections.

This may piss a few of you off, but the art of networking has been lost to the use of smartphones and social media.  See, when you bury your head in a phone, you are constantly looking down.  This not only affects you in terms of your posture, causing something called “text neck” or “tech neck”, but also affecting your mood.  There is a growing science that says that posture can affect your emotions; that slumping over a tablet or smartphone, constantly looking down, can cause you to feel depressed and have lower self-esteem as compared to those who had good posture. This can affect your ability to network, particularly if you are not feeling up to doing it on a regular basis because of your mood.

And more importantly, networking requires eye contact (not creepy, stare endlessly without blinking, eye contact – that’s too weird). But many people have lost the ability to look at others in the eye.  And, with virtual networking, it is even more difficult.  In order to seem like you are looking the others in the eye, you have to look directly at your camera, but that means that you are unable to watch the other people on your screen.  You have to find a way to balance that but we can discuss best Zoom/Google Meet/Microsoft Teams/et al practices at a different time.

Networking, the communications part of building your community is, as was mentioned above, a verb.  This means you have to take action.

You should speak with anyone who comes into your orbit and try to develop relationships with them (because you never know who they know).  However, let’s discuss strategic networking.

Strategic Networking

Strategic Networking begins only after you have decided on the criteria of your ideal client.   Your ideal clients are those with whom you love to work.  It may be about their business or their personalities, but they are those people who get you excited.  They are the businesses and people you look forward to working with who have problems you look forward to solving.

The identification of your ideal clients, so you can recognize them, must be an initial step.
Beginning with a clear profile of your ideal client, you will be able to develop more strategic marketing and rainmaking tactics.

You will be in the position to focus your efforts on prospects and referral sources that are most likely to hire you to solve their problems.

When you gain a deep understanding of your prospects and referral sources and find a way to help them as well, you will become their attorney of choice. People do want to do business with people and companies who take time to learn about them and what their biggest challenges are and how to provide solutions.

Your ideal client can be defined by many criteria:

Demographic:

  • Gender
  • Age Range
  • Occupation
  • Employer
  • Marital status
  • Education
  • Stage of life
  • Industry
  • Business type
  • Business Size as determined by the company’s earning
  • The number of employees

Psychographic:

  • Values
  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Beliefs
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Self-perceptions
  •  External perceptions
  • Drives
  • Enjoyment
  • Emotional associations

However, the best reason to have a list that defines your ideal client is that you can then determine where they hang out.  During the pandemic, you can find out where they are online, and when the world reopens, you can find out where they are in-person.  This will help you avoid “random acts of networking”.

As I said above, I think you should meet anyone and everyone, but time constraints in an attorneys’ life preclude spending time solely on attending networking events or meeting one-on-one with every person you meet.  This is why being strategic about when and where you are going to meet others is important.

And while we are still networking virtually, you need to find out to which associations your ideal clients belong, what groups are they involved in, which websites they read, what virtual networking events they are attending.   Then start registering and going to these events as well.

You also need to find the businesses and professionals who work with your ideal clients as well.  These will be your Strategic Referral Partners and you must meet them as well.

The next Rainmaking Recommendation will cover the networking topic further. This topic is too extensive to try to fit it all in one Rainmaking Recommendation.  We will discuss some best practices including ways to break the ice while networking virtually, the skills necessary to make your networking effective, and how to follow up.