The silver lining in the current faltering economy is the renewed recognition by many in the legal community that connecting with others is critically important. This means that meeting people will be easier than ever if you give them a strong enough reason to accept your invitation. Consider their perspective, their timing and their interests. If you can bridge those issues to create genuine opportunities for interaction, you will set the foundation for career and business development success.
Amass Personal Profiles
Start by profiling people in whom you are interested. This could include prospective employers, prior employers with whom you would like to reconnect, and mentors. Let the meeting itself be the vehicle to create the summary of his or her background. Simply ask for an interview, meet or call, and record the conversation as a podcast (with permission, of course). Services like Alkaps.AudioAcrobat.com and BlogTalkRadio.com are very effective for this purpose. Lawyers who use this technique to connect with others will raise their profile in a material fashion.
Recording an interview and repositioning it as a podcast makes you appear technologically savvy and offers tremendous benefit whether you are reconnecting with existing clients or searching for new opportunities.
Associate Through Associations
If you are not comfortable with a direct cold-call, then instead of trying to meet someone at an organization for whom you would ultimately like to provide legal services or whom you would simply like to meet, find individuals who lead associations of which that company is a member. Once you become familiar with the association and its leadership, you will be able to secure personal introductions to individuals at various organizations in your area of interest. It is important, however, to create relationships with those who can connect you to many others out of genuine interest in their work and collective mission.
Take Advantage of Opportunity Alerts
Test this out by adding those people whom you would like to meet or with whom you would like to build a relationship to a Google alert (Google.com/alerts), which will inform you each time a person on your list is mentioned online. You will then have opportunities to connect in a meaningful fashion.
Add their organization and area of interest to the alert as well. Each time an article in that field is published, you will learn about it and have a reason to interact.
Blog for Their Benefit
Search BlogCatalog.com to find a blog related to the industry in which your contacts practice or work. Ask the author(s) of that site if you can guest post. Use that opportunity to interview individuals in your target market, e.g., business executives, consultants, analysts, etc., and either profile their work for that blog or extensively quote their expertise for your post (which could be just a paragraph or two, depending on your time constraints).
Use the blog content you create to share ideas related to your target industry and key members of that community via various social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) as well.
Whatever your idea, bear in mind that there is tremendous upside potential in the downturn. Those who serve as a resource to their network and provide guidance on the concerns of others are certain to realize greater opportunities to stand out.
Ari Kaplan, bestselling author of The Opportunity Maker (Thomson-West, 2008) will present a half day program at the 12th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Friday, November 12, 2010, at the BWI Hilton.