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If you’re a solo or small firm attorney, you know that networking in the legal profession is key when it comes to securing new clients. Unfortunately, as we learned with the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person interactions aren’t always an option. But even in remote office scenarios, you shouldn’t let networking fall to the bottom of your priority list.
Though the term “virtual networking” can feel somewhat intangible and unintuitive, it really isn’t. After all, LinkedIn® was created for this very purpose and has been around for years. Virtual networking goes well beyond LinkedIn though, largely because connecting with others online is easier today than it has ever been. With so many working from home these days, most people have become more open to using technology in new and creative ways.
In other words: colleagues and potential clients are likely waiting and willing to connect with you, if given the opportunity.
Many lawyers understand the basics of how remote networking works, but they don’t know where to start. Here are six ways that you can build your professional network from the comfort of your home office.
1. Check In
This is a great time to reach out to people through an email or, better yet, a phone call. But don’t do it with a hidden agenda. You won’t get business from this interaction directly, but just as you would check in with a colleague in the break room, be sure to keep tabs on your colleagues while remote working. Keeping lines of communication open is critical to maintaining good connections.
2. Take Advantage of Social Media
Follow colleagues, associations and potential clients on LinkedIn, Facebook® and Twitter®, and comment on/interact with relevant content. There are also plenty of online communities for lawyers that may be useful for meeting new people and building your network. Getting involved in meaningful conversations online is a great way to stay connected, develop new contacts and maintain a seat at the table.
3. Get Local
Beyond basic social media, it’s also a good idea to get plugged into your community by joining local groups on Facebook or Nextdoor®. Often, community members will seek legal referrals in those spaces, so you’ll want to have your business hat on when interacting on these platforms.
4. Make Yourself Valuable & Stay Top of Mind
Finding a way to stay relevant in the lives of your prospects and colleagues can be tricky. Evaluate what you have to offer, both professionally and personally, and try to find a way to remain valuable, even when working from home.
For example, can you provide a regular legal newsletter to your clients or colleagues? Can you stream a Facebook Live session and answer legal questions related to current events? The medium will vary from lawyer to lawyer, but the takeaway is this: if you’re asking people to connect with you, you must ask yourself what you bring to the table, and how you can make that connection worth their while.
5. Attend (or Speak at) Virtual Conferences
The very concept of virtual conferences can feel uncomfortable, but all signs point to virtual events being here to stay, so you might as well settle in and get comfy. Speaking at virtual conferences is a great way to showcase your expertise and build new connections.
Even if you’re not speaking, you can usually obtain the contact information of speakers and panelists. Consider emailing these people after the conference to ask questions or provide feedback. Speakers typically expect some contact after an event, especially now. The worst they can say is no.
6. Get Connected with Pro Bono Opportunities
Unfortunately, there will always be a wealth of important legal matters and a dearth of funding to pay for them. Many pro bono opportunities are available through bar associations and pro bono resource centers. If you can swing it, get involved with one of these groups and volunteer your legal services.
Not only will you be doing something worthwhile by volunteering your time to a worthy cause, getting involved gives you the chance to network with people outside of your immediate bubble, and connect with people who share common values. Be sure to share on social media what your group and other legal associations or organizations are doing to provide aid—not only will sharing help educate others about your cause, it provides another way to connect with others over social media.