Writer Porter Gale said, “Your network is your net worth.”

While attorneys don’t often focus on the business of running a law firm, the reality is that they should. Understanding how to grow your law firm is understanding how to continually find clients even when things aren’t going quite as they should.

It means a successful career that isn’t filled with scrambling to fill holes in your schedule so you can meet the budget for the upcoming month. While there are many things you can do to build a successful firm, one way to create a stronger business is through attorney networking.

Tips for Success

Networking can be an exciting opportunity to meet, greet, see, and be seen. Make sure you put some careful thought and strategy behind your efforts. Before you get out there:

There’s a cost to networking.

Almost everything in the legal business has an attached cost, and networking is one of them. Every moment you spend networking is an hour you could be billing, and while you’re working on your company, it may take away time that you could be handling other (possibly more profitable) tasks. 

More than that, though, networking may actually cost you money. For example, you may need to pay dues to professional societies that help you network. You may need travel expenses for a legal conference. 

Make sure you’re not wasting your time and cash by ensuring you have a plan. 

You must create a networking plan.

If networking costs money, make sure your efforts are going to pay off in the long run. Know your ideal client. Just as a marketing firm might build an audience profile, you should do the same for a client.  For example, if you’re in estate planning, your ideal client is going to be someone who is fairly young, earns a good salary, and lives within a given metro area. Any event or dinner that was designed for networking should only fall within that niche and create contacts that will turn into that ideal client. 

Know your network.

You want to know the individuals in your network so you can connect with them on a regular basis. Think of the Rolodex of the past. You can recreate this on your mobile device or even with a simple spreadsheet, but make sure that knowledge is continually at your fingertips because it will support your overall networking efforts. 

Use social tools.

There are lots of tools at your fingertips today that can help you build your network. From social networks like LinkedIn to email marketing, don’t overlook the opportunity to grow your network online as much as possible. It can be as easy as working with a copywriter to put together a marketing newsletter once a month that helps people keep you in mind to meet all of their needs. 

Bonus: Referrals are Networking Too!

Don’t forget that referrals are a form of networking too. They’ll help you gather more clients and build some loyalty within your base. 

Some studies have found that clients who are gathered from referrals have a 37% higher retention rate than those gathered from other sources. You can get those referrals by ensuring that every client with whom you work has had an amazing experience that is easily shareable. Create a way to socially share your company through every email you send and your website. Be sure that you share referrals too. 

If you have a client in the financial management industry, for example, offer to refer them to other professionals. Finally, always take the time to thank your clients. They don’t have to come to you. There are many other choices out there, so make certain you thank them for their efforts. 

Networking may not come easy to you, but these days, it’s an absolute necessity in every practice.