If you’re new to working from home, by now, you’ve seen or read about 15 posts on what to do, from putting on regular work clothes to setting a schedule and having a dedicated work space. I’m a work from home veteran with fifteen years under my belt, so I know a thing or two about it. It’s true that it does take a certain personality – I fall into the category of finding it hard to walk away from my computer at the end of the day (I’m not sure if that means I’m more or less successful at working from home, but it does mean I get a tremendous amount done).
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None of us are perfect networkers/relationship builders.

Yes, it seems to come more easily to some than to others, but it’s not an exact science. For the most part, it’s an ever-adapting process that we’re constantly refining based on our current goals and our target’s needs.

But there are a couple of areas that we tend to go astray with building relationships, and that’s where we’re going to focus today.
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It’s February 4th, and that means it’s International Networking Week (I know you all had it on your calendars already!)

Apparently, January is a prime time for networking burn out, and that makes sense. It follows on a long season of holidays and entertaining, when we’re trying to fit in the last of our CLE requirements, meet up with family and friends, and rush to finish all of our end of the year work. So as we kick off February, who is really feeling fresh enough to network again in a way that’s going to effectively develop business for you and your firm?

Let’s look at four tips that will ease you into some networking in a way that doesn’t feel too overbearing, but will still help you to accomplish your goals. 
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Now that it’s 2020, I think (read: I hope) that we’ve all come to the conclusion that it’s important to develop a strong plan that identifies the goals that we have for business development, and the tactics and strategies that we’ll use to develop those goals, right? I have a sneaking suspicion that there are still a few people out there who are throwing various ideas up at the wall with the hope that some of them stick, and this is the year to stop doing that. Really, I mean it.

In my post today, I’m going to talk a lot about content marketing, and yes, I know I’m using both the dreaded words “content” and “marketing” together, but stick with me, because we’re also going to look at how these tips impact the message that you’re sending out regardless of the activities that you’re pursuing. Why is that? Because no matter what you do, you’re offering a message about yourself. Talking to someone in line for coffee about how you help clients? I hate to tell you, but you’re marketing yourself (and by the way, that’s a good thing). 
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Content marketing can feel like the opportunity to be the author or podcaster or speaker that you’ve always wanted to be.

But when done strategically, it’s about building relationships with clients and potential clients, and providing additional value to them that will make you top of mind when they have a matter that requires your expertise. When you bear that in mind as an end goal, it’s a reminder that you can’t simply put out content – you need to build an audience. 
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This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the third and final post in our series.

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How does your social impact program rate? Globally, firms are finding that prospects and clients, as well as employees and recruits expect them to take their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability programs to a new level. These stakeholders expect you to show that you have a holistic, strategic social impact plan with measurable results.
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This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the second in our series.

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You might be surprised to learn what your clients expect from you. A growing number of companies have signed on to the United Nations Global Compact—more than 12,000 in 165 countries. They’re committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they expect vendors and suppliers to also commit toward a more just and sustainable world.  Yes, this includes law firms and other professional service providers.
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Today, I’m bringing you a guest post on a topic near and dear to my heart – collaboration. Gareth Stephenson, of Top3Legal has a different take on it, from his experience, which may be useful as you engage further in your own collaborative efforts.

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In-house counsel are increasingly recognising the benefits of collaboration – this occurs within their teams, with counsel at other companies and also with their law firms.
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Remember the good old days when we just did a bunch of things and didn’t have specialized terms for them? Yep, these aren’t them.

Social media marketing” came about when social media platforms were introduced and we learned how to use online technology to build relationships that we’d previously been building offline (that’s tremendously simplified, but you get the idea). Then “content marketing” came along to describe what many law firms had been doing for years – writing about the law and its impact on their clients, and then sharing it with them. As a term, content marketing is broader than that, but in terms of the legal industry, that’s pretty much the short version.

As we worked through the introduction of the terms, we separated people into two camps: the “broadcasters” and the “engagers.” The “broadcasters” treated social media and content marketing as a means to spread their message around, but without the end goal of developing community with anyone. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a different valuation – some of the goals that firms/lawyers who embrace this philosophy might be pursuing are reputation enhancement, being considered a thought leader on a particular subject, etc. Many firms/lawyers have been successful, and even built a large following this way, and spend little or no time engaging with their audience.
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These days, it seems that everyone is looking for a quick fix to everything. How do I get clients fast? How can I do business development without being directly involved myself? How can I skip ahead to the final steps?

Unfortunately, as with anything worthwhile, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

If you want to have successful client relationships, and professional relationships in general, it’s necessary to start with the basics. The good news is that there are two easy fixes you can implement today that will improve your image, raise the caliber of your relationships, and aid in your business development efforts. I know that sounds too good to be true, and as if I’m some sort of snake oil salesman, but I promise, it’s true. 
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