Will Kintish is leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both face-to-face and online, who regularly presents at conferences and delivers training sessions for professional firms. He sets out his tips for successful networking in the year ahead.
Networking your way to career success in 2022
The word “networking” invariably provokes strong opinions. Some love it; many don’t!
The irony is that everyone networks from the age of around two. For me it is just talking to others with a view to building relationships.
Legal professionals should use networking to expand their circles of acquaintances, find out about job opportunities and increase their awareness of news and trends in their fields or the greater world.
There are four key activities needed to be a top-class networker.
1. Turn up
When you accept that networking is just communicating, the communication generally starts with an invitation. Either you are invited to something, which can often include a 1-2-1, virtually or face-to-face, or you are proactive and reach out to a third party.
“If you don’t go, you’ll never know”, and this includes LinkedIn. If ever there was a time to embrace this social network, it is now.
Ensure you have a complete and interesting profile and become proactive by posting articles and commenting on others.
2. Be a nice person
What an awful word – “nice”. I guess, like me, your English teacher told you not to use the word nice, but you know what it means.
When you attend events or enjoy a Costa coffee you are never judged on your technical ability in the early stages of a relationship. People buy you, then your ideas, then your services.
It’s all so simple. Be courteous, respectful, and genuinely interested in others and in what they have to say.
Always be thinking how you can help others, who you can introduce them to and, without being uncommercial, offer free and valuable advice. The best marketing is to share your technical knowledge, which truly helps build trust.
3. Ask questions
After 30 + years in the same job my wife recently retired. My obvious question after she met her replacement was, “How did it go?” She said she thought her replacement would fit in well, and I asked how she knew that. “Because she asked all the right questions,” was my wife’s reply.
When you don’t ask enough, or the right, questions people might think:
• You only want to talk about yourself.
• You don’t really care what others have to say.
• You are overconfident, thinking you won’t learn anything.
When you do ask, you make the other person feel very special and, in my wife’s case, very happy, as she can retire knowing the department is in safe hands.
Does this ever happen to you in a conversation? You ask a question and the other person responds. You ask the second question; they respond.
Then the same happens with questions three and four. At that point I think, “What is this, a conversation or an interview?”
In the olden days (i.e., pre-Covid) at an event I would politely excuse myself and move on. Why? Well, they obviously have no interest in me, so I won’t waste their time.
There are three areas of questioning...
The ice-breaker question. Never start with, “What do you do?” Always find a non-business question: “Where have you travelled from?” “What made you attend this event?” “Do you know anyone here?”
Business questions. Ask about their present situation, then how they got to where they are now and then what future plans and aspirations they have.
Small talk questions. For me it is this area of conversations that glues relationships.
Many professionals say they don’t like small talk. My only response to that is, “You will struggle with successful business development if you don’t change your attitude.”
Finding something in common outside the business arena is a great way to get them to like you, and when they have need for legal services you will often be high on their agenda.
4. ALWAYS follow up
When someone says they need help with an issue, or they are not happy with their existing advisers, or they are expanding and need someone like you, you will be doing them and yourself a disservice by not following up. You will surely be adding value.
You’re not being pushy. You are looking to create a new situation beneficial to both parties.
In summary, the reasons for networking are:
· For employment security.
· To increase awareness of yourself, your skills and services
· To provide yourself with a support system.
· To meet new employers/employees.
· To keep you in a job with greater promotional prospects.
· To help you reduce your risk when there is a downturn in the economy and jobs become scarcer.
- Connect with Will Kintish on LinkedIn