Legal Networking Events & Groups

Legal Networking EventsNetworking for solicitors can be a very effective and powerful tool, but only if you do it right. But where are the best legal networking events and legal networking groups, then, when you get to them, what should you do?

In this article I look at the Legal Networking Events, Legal Networking Groups and how to do legal networking for maximum impact.

Here are some of the points to consider.

What is legal networking?

In the legal world networking should be an essential part of your business. My 14 years as a practising solicitor provided me with a network which was especially invaluable when I formed Samson Consulting in 2003.

Essentially networking is getting out of your office and mixing with people either from the same profession, potential clients, potential referral sources, and any other occasions where you meet new contacts.

Whilst most partners will find themselves undertaking various networking commitments each month, it is often not the case with other solicitors and legal executives in the practice, but it should be for their own benefit and the benefit of the firm.

Some of the contacts you make may not provide you with instant referrals of work, and you certainly shouldn’t approach a networking event expecting that (see below) but you will form some fantastic long term friendships or business relationships which will help you in ways you would never consider.

Non Legal Networking Events

Whilst I am going to look at legal networking events and groups, if you are considering undertaking network with the intent of attracting new clients, you will need to spread your reach further.

Whether you are a business to business legal service provider, or business to consumer, you can meet potential clients AND referrers at business networking events.

Remember, all of the people attending a business networking event, as well as being a potential business client also need personal legal services such as conveyancing, Wills, probate, lasting powers of attorney, family law etc.

Here are some of the better known business networking groups to look out for.

  • 4Networking – I always found this to be a friendly, good business networking group.
  • Networking B2B – connecting businesses
  • The Business Network – providing business owners and directors with an effective and focussed environment to do business.
  • BNI – Business Networking International. One of the more regimented groups where you MUST attend or send someone in your place, and are measured purely on how many referrals you make.
  • NRG Networks – professional networking for you and your business.

Just remember with networking as with any clubs or associations, you may not like the first group you go to, so keep looking until you find one which matches your personality style.

Legal Networking Events

Remember when it comes to legal networking that some of the best and most interesting connections you will make will come at big events and conferences, which have networking as a by product rather than the be all and end all of the event.

Seek out the events that surround your topic of legal expertise, or if you are a practice manager or law firm owner, seek out the events around law firm marketing, management, or legal recruitment.

Legal Networking Groups

For specific legal networking groups, here are some options:

  • All About Law – for aspiring solicitors, from first year law fair to digital campus…
  • Meetup – not just for lawyers but they do have a specific legal networking section on their website. As they say “Find out what’s happening in Legal Networking Meetup groups around the world and start meeting up with the ones near you.”
  • Legal Cheek – careers based networking and events.
  • Clio Innovate Legal London – does what it says on the tin…

The other place to start to find legal networking events is to head to LinkedIn and start looking for legal groups. Join in with the discussions when relevant and many will organise meetups from time to time.

Once you have found a group to attend, what should you do?

How To Undertake Legal Networking

No doubt all of your fee earners have costs targets each month. These targets focus their minds on the level of fees they are expected to generate for the practice. This target is frequently reviewed, and if it is not achieved the reasons are explored and no doubt a future strategy to ensure compliance is put in place. Whilst networking is recognised as an essential marketing tool by most of the law firms that I regularly work with and meet, I do not know of many that attach targets to networking events. Why not? When I ask this question the general response from partners is that “they do not want to rock the boat”. As a businessman I have real difficulty understanding this argument, particularly with the legal sector becoming ever more competitive. Surely if you recognise that networking is an essential part of your fee earners terms of employment, as achieving a monthly costs target is, then a networking target will focus everyone’s minds on the importance of the topic?

3. What to say or not to say?

Networking is essentially a sales and marketing tool. Two of the most important rules of sales are:

  • Prospect (ie get out there and meet people); and
  • Listen.

These are simple rules, yet if they are employed for networking events they will guarantee results.

4. Long Term Gain

We have all been to networking events where we are approached by someone who interrupts our conversation, jumps in with his or her business card, shouts about how brilliant they are and then throws themselves at the next unsuspecting group of people. This is one way to guarantee you will not succeed with your networking approach.

The only way you will ever really prosper through networking is to build long term relationships and show a genuine interest in the people you talk to. In the last two years I have brokered deals putting several contacts on my network in touch with each other leading to a benefit for everyone involved. One of these contacts I first made over 8 years ago.

5. What To Say?

If you dread networking events, and would like a tool that will create your own one minute pitch, please let me know and I will gladly send you a copy.

Networking Course for Solicitors

If you would like your fee earners out there extolling the virtues of your practice, then my Killer Networking for Solicitors course could be just what you are waiting for. Some of the comments I have received after running the course appear below:

“Nick Jervis has both the legal experience and business marketing skills to be ideally placed to present a networking seminar to solicitors. Through his practical advice and tips on technique, I realised networking is an important skill that can be learnt by anyone and is not just a gift that a select few are lucky enough to have. The course is presented in a pragmatic, and friendly way with the emphasis very much being on putting the theory into practice. I have no doubt as a result of attending this course I am in a better position to spot networking opportunities and utilise them effectively to increase my source of contacts and referral opportunities”. Clare Langford, Higgs and Sons.

“Very entertaining”, “Enjoyed the course” – Alway Associates

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Case Study

Now I’ve got eight staff and two offices, and we’ve never been busier.

I’ve been working with Nick for the last six years, and in that time he’s had a significant impact on my business.

We first start working together when I worked at an employment law practice, and when I left there to set up on my own, Nick was one of the first people I called.

I knew that one of the key pieces to get right was the website – in this day and age it’s impossible to run a successful firm without one – and with Nick’s advice, help and guidance, we created our own marketing-focused site that has proven to be the backbone of all the sales and marketing that has followed.

But a good website means nothing unless people see it, and that’s why we turned to Nick to run our Google Adwords, which quickly became a primary source of leads.

In addition to running the traffic, Nick held our hand through every element of the client attraction process, from how to communicate with leads, to how to close sales, and the impact that had on our business cannot be understated.

And that’s why I will always recommend Nick to anyone who needs help with marketing – particularly legal firms: his breadth of knowledge about everything to do with sales and marketing means that he can (and does) help with every part of the picture, resulting in a stronger business than you could have imagined.

Since we’ve been working with Nick, we’ve grown quickly – back in 2013 it was just myself and my wife, and she was part-time.

Now I’ve got eight staff and two offices, and we’ve never been busier.

And if our lead numbers are anything to go by, it’s only going to get better – 2015-2016 saw us get 800 good quality leads in employment law, and that figure more than doubled last year. I can only look forward to more exciting times, working hand-in-hand with Nick to grow my practice and enjoy the fruits that come with that growth.

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