Whether you have some newfound free time during quarantine or are simply feeling the anxiety of what the future holds for your practice, now is no time to stop networking. Even working remotely, you can still expand your professional network and keep up with colleagues.
Traditionally, networking has meant attending conferences, taking CLE courses, and, perhaps, supporting local causes and politicians. Without these in-person opportunities, lawyers may be tempted to give up on networking until social distancing ends.
Instead, consider investing in remote networking in the following ways.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
You can find many tips for leveraging your profile online, but here are the basics. First, update your profile (how old is that photo? Is your current practice name and contact info up to date? Any results or recognitions to include in your profile?) Then start browsing your feed to see what your contacts have shared. When you find interesting topics, see who posted them and consider inviting them to connect. Go to “My Network” and you’ll see a page full of people recommended by LinkedIn. Invite some of them to connect with a personal note: “I am also starting up my own practice” or “We both attended University X in the teens and I’d love to connect.”
Leverage LinkedIn to Network
Now that you have updated your profile and spent some time browsing new contacts, make a new habit of checking in daily. Reach out to old friends and colleagues to say hello and find out how their practices are adjusting to the current reality. Message new contacts to introduce yourself and ask about how they got into their area of law or how they built their well-designed website. Expand your network beyond lawyers with the same approach. Thinking about your website? Contact a web developer or designer for some tips. Meanwhile, post content on law or the legal field that you read in your local law journal or your favorite blog. Reply to any comments on your posts by others. Check your home feed every day for new posts and share or “like” ones that are relevant to you and your network.
Re-enter Social and Professional Groups Online
Many professional groups have started to hold online meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Some conferences have gone forward with virtual events, so don’t assume that your conference has been (completely) canceled. Some networking groups are holding virtual cocktail hours or coffee klatches. Not part of one? Start your own by contacting lawyers you enjoy and admire to discuss how they’re managing their practices under current conditions.
You don’t have to go to your local soup kitchen to help (although, you could). Those who have lost jobs, gotten sick, lost family members, or own idle businesses are all in need of help. Consider reaching out on local platforms such as Nextdoor to let individuals or organizations know that you are offering pro bono legal services. This could be as simple as reviewing a service contract for a local nonprofit organization or small business. If you have experience in wills or real estate, you could offer to review or update a will for a family in need or help with a home sale after the loss of a family member.
Now is the time to invent and prepare for your future practice, whatever it may be. Don’t let working from home become isolating when it’s actually a great excuse to reach out to virtually everyone.