Can you successfully business develop if you hate networking? Thankfully – because there are so many of you out there who would rather endure a root canal than an hour of schmoozing at a board of trade event – the answer is yes.
Networking can be defined as many things. Networking defined as attending events, meeting twenty new people, following up after the event, and steadily adding new people to your “pipeline” is not the be all and end all of legal business development. There – I have said it! For extroverts who love that kind of thing – go for it! For the rest of us a different strategy can be as effective – I call it getting involved. It still means you have to get out of your office, but you pursue a purpose other than simply networking. The purpose is to get involved in an organization that is meaningful to you. It may be that you will learn more about an legal area you are interested in, it may be that you can help develop a professional organization, or it might be a non-profit whose cause you want to get behind. Let your personal interests and professional goals guide you in deciding where to invest your time.
The skill to develop is the ability to ask good questions, and listen and learn about the people you are meeting through your community or professional involvement. It also helps if you introduce yourself in a way that gives the people you are meeting a little insight into what you do.
New business opportunities can flow in from many different sources. Developing a rich group of contacts who know you and trust you is what helps generate business. These relationships can be developed through work, through your involvement in the community, and for some lawyers I know – through their regular and prolific writing and blogging. Allow your personal and professional strengths and interests to guide your investments.