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Get Started With Professional Networking

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Think back to a cocktail party that you recently attended. There were some people who seemed to know nearly everyone in the room, moving from one group to another with ease, leaving no hand unshaken.

Some others, meanwhile, stood around uneasily, waiting for the party to be over and done with so they could get off home. Which people have the better business development skills is easily guessed.

In today's world, where people often need to work together to achieve their goals within a set time period, knowing the right people is an indispensable advantage. So, the ability to develop and maintain a broad network of business acquaintances is a critical skill for every career professional.

So what exactly is Professional Networking?

Professional networking is the creation and cultivation of business acquaintances and friends. Those who do this effectively know its value. It is the back bone of strong and stable legal business careers. Unfortunately, for many, it is one of the most neglected aspects of professional development.

A recent survey conducted in the UK by GTC, known as the Professional Network Survey, has thrown up some surprising results. Over four-fifths of people surveyed said that they would recommend their contacts from professional networks to their employer over other candidates. This also holds true for the lawyers recommending colleagues to clients.

Professional Networking truly deserves the attention that it is getting today. This is because without knowing the right people, we tend to miss out on the most lucrative lead generation opportunities. Furthermore, not having the right contacts can lead to professional isolation, which is definitely undesirable, especially in the legal profession.

The benefits of Professional Networking are myriad. A strong professional network extends your sphere of opportunity far beyond your direct contacts. It lets other lawyers know if you are available to co-counsel or accept new clients in your area of practice. People with strong networks get more things done, and more effectively; they learn from others with different knowledge or experience, and are able to use their network as they seek to move on in their careers, whether this is planned or simply a necessity of circumstance.

The good news is that networking doesn't need to be difficult or a chore. It can be an enjoyable and rewarding part of your business development. You're probably already part of more networks than you realize. It's a matter of recognizing the mutual benefits and building from there. With the advent of online social professional networks and internet marketing, law firms are finding better ways to find potential mentors, communicate with fellow attorneys and find better avenues.

Technology today has redefined professional networking. Whether it is online directories, social networking sites - like FaceBook or LinkedIn - or professional sites like Legal OnRamp and Lawyerahead, modern technology has enhanced the way people interact and do business development. And with these online interactions, professional networking has been made simple and easy. Online professional networking also increases your contacts at an astounding rate.

The growth of LinkedIn network at a rate of over 130,000 members a week clearly outlines the growing importance of professional networking. New online technologies provide a solution through networking websites that can help lawyers connect with each other quickly and easily, regardless of location. In times of crisis such as these, networking is the key. So start immediately and use it effectively to build a long standing legal business career. After all, networking is a lifelong project.

Richard Hughe
19th March 2009

© 2009 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Image: Bird Houses / 20071230.10D.46705 / SML by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

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