How can attorneys build their practices through professional meetings and Chamber of Commerce events? By looking at these networking events as opportunities to increase their personal connections and sow the seeds of new business relationships.
We recently wrote a column for The Connecticut Bar Association’s Connecticut Lawyer magazine called “Going Beyond the Meet and Greet”. Here’s what the readers of that publication found there:
Want to do more than live through your next networking event? Why not approach it as the key to some valuable professional relationships that can do your practice good in the future?
I like the G.A.I.N.S. approach to networking that I read about in an article by BNI founder Ivan Misner. He believes productive referrals and the resulting business come from those you understand and relate to. He outlines fives things you need to know to establish and keep a productive business connection: the person’s Goals; Accomplishments; Interests’; Networks and Skills. Incidentally, he also says you should share this same information about yourself to deepen your relationships with your contacts.
Here’s a quick look at each of these:
Goals are what you want or need for your practice or your personal life. They are the financial, business, educational and personal objectives you want to develop in your legal career. Helping someone achieve their own goals is a wonderful way to grow a relationship. So listen for them when you meet and look for ways to help them achieve them. As a bonus, you can expect them to take an interest in your goals and look for ways to help you meet them once you share them.
Want to really understand someone? Find out what accomplishments make them the proudest. As Misner puts this: “Accomplishments, whether as a student, employee, organization member, parent, friend, sports fan or neighbor, tell you more about a person than any number of intentions or attitudes.” As a way to open yourself up to a contact, make sure you tell them about your favorite accomplishments, too. Did you recently get a ground-breaking decision from the court? Did you provide a new take on a case that made a difference? Share your pride and really listen for their response. You’ll find out what’s important to them.
Sharing common interests with someone is often the easiest way to connect. They are the things you like to do, talk about and share. Learning about someone’s passion is a great way to deepen the relationship (and learn about something new). Make it a point to cultivate real curiosity about the interests of those in your network and make sure you share your own. Do you love to find new wines? Do old movies get you going? Is there a mountain you want to climb? Share those passions and listen carefully for what you get in return.