Tag Archives: Networking

Overcoming fear of rejection

J. Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm for law, finance and small business professionals. Nick is experienced in law, business, entertainment, public relations and his Secured Solo Practice™ agency model. Nick enjoys sharing career growth, strategy and experience with legal job seekers and attorneys in transition.

Something about law school changes our attitudes as we turn into lawyers. We often maintain a need to take a position and zealously defend it, regardless of its weight. This can cause us to work extra hard to avoid losing. We can learn how to take calculated risks and accept “no” without imputing failure; the lawyer might otherwise avoid potentially losing positions and might miss a great opportunity.

There are a few confidence situations where we need to remember to bring our “A” game:

Job Hunting – you can’t say the wrong thing if you’re honest.
Do you really want to work somewhere you have to lie about your values or belief systems? Why would you agree or disagree with an interviewer just to get a job? Smart lawyers recognize pandering and it serves no one well. If the job is not a match, keep hunting. It is OK not to fit with everyone.

Networking – if you are a friend first you make an easier referral.
People do business with others they know, like and trust. Spend time getting to know people at networking events as friends first. Likeable people are more likely to receive follow up phone calls. Balance your time in networking conversations between what you do and who you are and vice versa.

Volunteering – even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you still win.
Don’t shy away from volunteer and pro bono opportunities simply because you don’t have a mastery of the subject matter. If organizers expected perfection they would have hired experts. Volunteer experience also allows us to break away from our daily roles, which creates a good environment to meet others and get to know them in a neutral atmosphere.

Collaboration – none of us knows everything so roundtable your issues.
The smartest person is often the one who asks the most questions. The best lawyers know the limits of their knowledge and experience. We all benefit from floating ideas around and hearing some fresh input. By including others and seeking collective intelligence you will always come out on top.

Personality – help people remember you among the competition.
You don’t have to be dry, even despite your practice area. Some of the most dynamic attorneys work in otherwise stale practice areas. The dynamic person makes their work seem interesting. People with passion for their work get noticed. So much of life as a lawyer is a confidence game.

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Use holiday parties for event mining

J. Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm for law, finance and small business professionals. Nick is experienced in law, business, entertainment, public relations and his Secured Solo Practice™ agency model. Nick enjoys sharing career growth, strategy and experience with legal job seekers and attorneys in transition.

Many attorneys in transition are those who build books of business through community activities and presentations. I like the “everyone has a neighbor” rule of thumb: assume that everyone you talk to is a few degrees from being your next client or referral. This holiday season we all have social events where we might meet people to work on event collaboration. They key to collaboration is an open mind and an ear to the ground so that we don’t miss great opportunities to tell people what we do.

If you follow a few points of advice this holiday season then you will likely start the new year with some events to plan and execute.

First, talk to engaging people. The best way to find engaging people: be approachable. When I’m at an event where I don’t know anyone, I hang out by the food. Someone will approach me and strike up a conversation. I listen and ask questions. As others stop by to say hello, I often find that I haven’t moved from my spot since arriving. By developing rapport and trust, new people are more likely to talk to you after the event.

Next, don’t make presumptions about referral matches. How often do you ask, “What does your spouse do?” The people you meet at holiday parties are likely a few steps away from target client matches – all you have to do is ask smart questions and find a connection. If you consciously try to remember an engaging person, you will likely run into someone who might be their match. Most referrals come from those people – the unanticipated client generators.

Then, look for mutually beneficial business interests. When you explore mutually beneficial exposure opportunities, consider your ideal client and your new friend’s ideal client. Ask yourself, what if anything do our potential clients have in common? When you spot common client attributes, think about who might be the right person to influence a common client; contact that individual to help sponsor or advertise your event.

Finally, don’t forget to tell people what you do and to identify an ideal client. Whether in writing or conversation, tell people who’s presenting, what they do, and identify ideal clients. Use open-ended language like, “Bob is a consumer protection lawyer who helps people fight big companies who steal big by stealing a little from many.” (See how this is better than saying that Bob is a class action plaintiff’s lawyer – only other lawyers know what that means). Be proud of our careers and share with others so we can help each other.

Leveraging Your Reputation: Two ways to say thanks

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

November is Thanksgiving month, so it’s a good time to think of ways to thank your clients and other people you work with. Of course, you can send them gift cards, cookies, and flowers, but there are a couple of free things that you can do to show them that you’re thankful.

Share a free ebook. An ebook doesn’t have to be hundreds of pages, and it’s not complicated to do. You can simply create a PDF of some useful information that you think clients will need, or offer a legal analysis of societal trends or prominent current events. Create content for a variety of audiences. For instance, if you have an area of expertise that other attorneys could benefit from to do their own work, then create a PDF for them with that helpful information. You can then create another PDF with tips and simple legal guidance for clients, such as explaining changes in laws that will affect them. Remember to create an ebook that is brief but contains substantial information so that people think they’re getting something of value. Once your PDF is complete, just post it on your website and share the link for download, or send the PDF directly to the people in your network.

Send a handwritten note. Andrea Nierenberg, who I’ve worked and is the Queen of Networking, has promoted this idea for years, and says that she writes three handwritten notes a day. Think about the people who have helped you recently, whether in a big or small way, and thank them with a small card and short note that is just a few lines. Today, since many people are on email, social networking sites, or on their phones, a handwritten note really stands out. When someone sees that his or her mail contains a card in the midst of catalogs, junk mail, and bills, it’s a nice surprise. It’s best to get into a daily or weekly habit of sending out thank you cards, and it doesn’t take much time: write a few when you’re having coffee or before you start working at your desk. You’ll see that people will react positively and will possibly help you even more in the future.

And don’t limit yourself to November; try these two tips throughout the year, and your reputation and network will grow.

Spontaneous Exclamations: Early priorities part 2

 Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, commercial finance, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or  akatz@harrisonheld.com.

This is part two of a two-part series that offers a few pointers about networking to build your business and reputation.

3.         But I’m Young and Don’t Know Anybody Who Needs Legal Services!

Touché!  I respond thusly: Imagine you are a tiny tadpole swimming around your little law school castle at the bottom of a fishbowl covered in that peculiar shiny neon gravel.  There are tiny fish swimming around with you going about their business, checking out their little fishy lockers containing their little fishy law books and writing little fishy case briefs in preparation for class.  Now you, tadpole, have decided that you are going to one day become a big old toad and leave this fishbowl, but you are anxious because you don’t know anybody outside of your bowl.

First, you realize that you may have family members who already are toads out in the world beyond the bowl.  For those who do, you generally have your foot in the door already with family and family friends.  Take them to lunch, pick their brains, and most importantly, establish a relationship.  I have found that most people I’ve attempted to network with enjoy assisting people in the beginning of their careers.  Generally people like to pass down the fruits of their knowledge because someone did it for them when they were just starting out too.  It’s like that movie that nobody has ever seen but somehow knows the title: Pay it Forward.  Furthermore, what goes around, comes around.  One day you might be in the position to assist the person who helped you out in the past.  In other words, don’t forget those who lifted you up to where you need to be, and always send handwritten thank you notes!!!

Lastly, take a look at the other little fishies swimming around the bowl.  Some may go on to become attorneys, others will go into business and other occupations.  A portion of those fishies will eventually need legal services and you want to be on the top of their fishy minds when they do.  In my own experience, I’ve taken a look around and seen various friends or acquaintances progressing in their jobs or starting their own businesses.  I’ve made it a priority of mine to portray myself to them as a capable, trustworthy, and cordial attorney who is able to assist them at a moment’s notice.  Occasionally, these contacts come to me with legal matters which I happily take on.  Some of these contacts are small-time, but could one day become big and I am honored to be involved in their businesses from day one.  Otherwise, I know that there is just a matter of time before a portion of these contacts become big old toads themselves and then potentially become big old clients.

In other words, young contacts with potential now may become your best clients in the future… or one day you’re forming a small LLC for a widget designer, three years later, you’re representing a global widget cartel.  Talk about a small investment paying off!

In conclusion, you, law student/junior associate/guy just looking for fantasy football advice, can get a major head start on your legal career this very second that may even bear fruit in the short term.  Network with friends, family, acquaintances, and college alumni.  Be friendly to people you meet on the street, attend charity events, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at the game.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ve reached out and they aren’t interested at the moment.  However, by NO means should you let your business get in the way of your friendships and relationships with the ones you love.  But that’s the subject of another blog post.

In upcoming posts I will touch on shepherding not-for-profit corporations through the federal tax exemption process, converting general partnerships to limited partnerships and the tax ramifications therein, and more associate life and practice pointers for law students and new attorneys.  If you actually are looking for fantasy football advice, I’m currently 6-0 and my tips don’t come cheap.

Spontaneous Exclamations: Early priorities

 Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, commercial finance, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or  akatz@harrisonheld.com.

Part one. Part two runs tomorrow.

Greetings law blogosphere!  Whether you are a fresh energetic law student, young overloaded associate taking a quick breather, or senior-ist of the senior partners scouring the Internet for solid fantasy football advice, I congratulate you on finding my intangible soapbox and hope I can offer at least a little advice, insight, and maybe some chuckles.  Additionally, in future posts, I will be touching on current trends and provide practice tips in the tax and corporate arenas.  Your sincere/sarcastic/witty/coarse comments in my inbox are always appreciated.

This first one is for those of you in law school or college considering making “The Profession,” your profession.  No doubt, it’s not the easiest of periods in history to transform yourself from pastel popped-collar polo big person on campus to super rainmaking attorney extraordinaire, but here are a few pointers about networking to build your business and reputation— something that you can begin doing immediately that might not currently be on your mind.

1.         Network Like it’s Your Job

That’s because it IS your job.  As an attorney, you need to put food on the table so your brain can have enough energy to process the hundreds upon hundreds of pages of legalese you will confront every month.  How do you put food on the table and receive enough of these pages to keep you occupied for 2,000 plus hours a year?  By bringing in a client or two… or preferably a baker’s dozen.  One of the best ways to acquire new clients in any practice area is through networking.

2.         Get Your Priorities Straight

I’ve heard it before.  Senior attorneys declaring that junior attorneys should not make business development and networking their fifth, sixth, or even 20th priority.  To an extent, I agree.  Building your book of business should not be your top priority as a new or junior attorney.  First and foremost, your priority is to learn how to practice your area of law and that requires significant blood, sweat, and tears.

However, I contend that networking should be a close second priority and it should begin prior to the first day of law school.  Successful attorneys with giant books of business generally built their practice on meeting people and portraying their name and/or firms to the public in a reputable and trustworthy light.  Most of these attorneys did not make partner and find a lucrative client book suddenly materialize out of the void.  They pounded the pavement from day one.  If you gas up the sledgehammer and starting pounding, on day 2,190, you may wake up and may realize, “Wow! I have enough of my own clients to provide me with enough work that I don’t need to seek assignments from other attorneys. I and my book have become a valuable asset to my firm.  Now, I can control my own destiny as an attorney.”

And controlling your own destiny is considered by many to be the pinnacle— because while handouts of projects can be great for your career, eventually all handout pools dry up.

To review or not to review?

Jill Rorem, Esq., is senior manager, legal staffing at Blackman Kallick (www.blackmanstaffing.com). Jill oversees the successful recruitment of attorneys, paralegals and contract legal professionals. Jill (and the Blackman team) staffs document reviews using qualified contract attorneys and thus, works with attorneys-in-transition daily. You can follow her at twitter.com/roremlegalstaff.

I am often asked whether working as a contract attorney is a help or a hindrance to a career as a lawyer. My answer is always the same, I really don’t know. Some of my direct hire clients are, in fact, turned off by document review on a resume. Others would rather see some legal work on a resume than months of doing nothing at all. What I DO know is that in this economy, with loan payments mounting, most people don’t have the luxury to say no to working on a document review.

The real problem with document review for those who are not planning to make document review their career, is that attorneys can easily get too comfortable and become lazy about their job search or even shelve it altogether. Let’s face it, document review brings steady (albeit low paying) work. Document review doesn’t keep you up worrying at night after you leave the office.  When you are working on document review, you don’t have to panic before a motion in front of the judge. It is social and many people wind up with life- long friends after they spend months on a project together. So, it’s easy to see why people get comfortable and forget their intended pursuits.

But there ARE jobs out there and not just for those who lateral in to firms. I have seen it with my own eyes – people have left our document reviews to take full-time, salaried positions on many occasions. It can be done. If document review is not what you intend for your career (for some it is – the above mentioned advantages are very enticing!), please don’t drop the ball on your search. Rather, consider these suggestions on how to keep your job search alive:

  • Read the job boards and law firm career pages every day. Something new is bound to pop up that is a fit for your background.
  • Network, network, network! Instead of going home after a long day of coding, attend one of the many networking events and conferences that are put on by various legal organizations and charities in the city. Give yourself a twice per month quota. Some are free and some cost money but eventually, it’ll be money well spent. Don’t leave an event without meeting at least three new people and connecting with a few old acquaintances. You never know how these people will be able to help you out and/or connect you to potential job contacts.
  • Participate in social media. It’s the most efficient way to network because you can meet a lot of people at once. Polish up your LinkedIn profile and start connecting with others.  Create a Twitter account and follow people who have interesting things to say about the legal field and contact them. Stop poo-pooing Facebook and make some “friends.”  The more people who know you are looking for a new position, the better.
  • Stay on people’s radar to be the first considered when their firm or organization is hiring.  Request informational interviews and/or informal coffee meetings with hiring managers, attorneys, friends, friends of friends. Listen to what they have to say about potential needs at their firms and tell them how you might fit in when their need arises.
  • Touch up your cover letter. As someone who reads cover letters daily, I recommend giving it personality and humor. Keep the reader from falling asleep at all costs! Give them insight into you beyond what you have already provided in your resume.

It is perfectly fine to decide to work permanently as a document review attorney. Believe me, it would make my life easy if I didn’t keep losing some of my favorite contract attorneys to permanent positions! But if you want to practice in a traditional setting, keep at it. If you are persistent and talented, you’ll land something.

Participation in alumni activities

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm serving the law and finance industries. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition based on his experience in legal marketing, public relations and his Secured Solo Practice model. Nick shares career growth strategy and experience with legal job seekers.

When preparing for a job search, your first stop is most likely the career services office. Make an alumni event your second spot. I can think of no better group with whom you can share your cheers and jeers while keeping in touch with your friends and meeting new people. Law schools and alumni both have everything to gain from alumni event engagement. Seize the opportunity and participate in the alumni networking process using these 5 methods: (1) meetings; (2) invitations; (3) follow-up; (4) programming; and (5) drafting.

First, the meeting method is the easiest to adopt and commit to habit. Simply locate your law school’s alumni event schedule and calendar your appearance at all the relevant events. There are times you might have other things going on and you don’t want to go to all of these events. I suggest you go anyways. After a while, event hosts make note of the regular attendees and simply by being present you earn value points.

Next, the invitation method assumes you are attending regular meetings and events so you are there when the more elite events are discussed, and you just happen to receive an invitation. Invitations to certain law school events are extended to a limited list of active alumni. The more frequently the people in charge of the lists think of you, the more likely your inbox will contain invitations to the more elite receptions and events.

Then, the follow-up method, after meeting new people at the exclusive events, requires proper planning and execution. First set time parameters for your initial follow-up, next cause for communication, and periodic good will greetings. I suggest calendaring these activities. Where appropriate you should ask new friends if they would like an invitation to stay in touch through your social and professional networks. Always maintain professionalism when engaging colleagues, regardless of your level of familiarity, maintain candor.

After capturing your human capital, i.e., valuable contacts and relationships are assets; the programming method presents the opportunity to give back to the group with a proposal for a new event. Programming can be an event, educational seminar, webinar, teleseminar or other medium through which alumni groups bring people together to work toward a stated purpose.

Finally, the drafting method of alumni participation concerns content your group will value. Think about how much there is to communicate among alumni and how little time most alumni administrators have to write articles, and material used to promote and engage group members. Simply attending an event and writing about it for the alumni newsletter is a great way to get your name out there and help the group.

Engaging your alumni associations and offering your time, talent and treasure are all great ways to meet more colleagues and reconnect with friends who are a great resource when you find yourself in transition. Don’t be shy about approaching the alumni directors; I am sure they will be pleased by your offer of service.