February 24, 2005

Low Effort, Low Risk Networking

Now here's a post I could see Matt Homann sinking his teeth into, and it's something I'll probably mention at LexThink! Chicago: Building the Perfect Firm:

Via the LegalMarketingBlog.com, I came across Fresh Inc.'s "The No-time Networking Plan" post by Keith Ferrazzi.

Keith's idea: If you can't find any time for networking, then don't. Don't stress yourself out over it either. Instead, let networking time come to you. How? By meeting people during the things you're already doing. Consider your down time while waiting in line, in a waiting room, running errands, etc., and then turn that dead time into networking time.

Keith posts a particularly inspirational account of how his friend Ben found a job in a new line of work by networking while at jury duty. Well, perhaps "networking" isn't the best description for his particular approach -- basically, he got up in front of a huge crowd of potential jurors and asked who was in the line of work he wanted. His timing was impeccable, and one can't argue with the results.

Here are my take-aways from all of this:

  1. Lawyers generally have the gift of gab -- so use it. It's one of our many talents.

  2. Don't be afraid to do something so unconventional or unexpected which your competitors would probably never try or even think of. Of course, don't confuse unconventional with unprofessional. I like to think that unconventional approaches are like our brains -- we're only using about 10% of them.

  3. Work smarter not harder: Ben worked the room with incredible efficiency, and it didn't take any extra time out of his day.

  4. Creative cold calling works with the right touch: Ben basically cold-called an entire room in less than a minute. I've personally obtained jobs by cold-calling -- jobs that turned into my career. Ben's approach was certainly more creative, less time-consuming, and required more than a little self-confidence. It took guts. Cold calling shows initiative.

  5. Don't be afraid to ask people for a little information. People love to help. I've personally had good luck with "I wonder if you could help me..."

  6. Turn adversity into opportunity. At jury duty, Ben was the only one who forgot to bring reading material. He turned an otherwise brain-numbing boredom slot into a self-marketing windfall.

  7. Be yourself. Be gutsy, be clever, but above all else, be genuine.

  8. Leverage what others know. Ben's contact in the juror room wasn't his future employer, but that person knew the people Ben was looking to meet.
This no-time approach breaks some of the well established marketing rules, such as targeting your intended audience. As such, it probably won't turn up leads as often as you might hope. But ask yourself, what have you lost by trying it during otherwise dead time?

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard