Lawyers all know they should be networking, and most of them are, but there is an important distinction between the quantity and quality of your connections. Many lawyers are more comfortable networking with other lawyers and find themselves at the same conferences every year. But in order to be truly successful, a rainmaker, lawyers must become power connectors and apply strategic thinking and high level planning to making and keeping the right business contacts. So what does it mean to have valuable connections? How should you get started properly networking while avoiding potentially harmful relationships?
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Jared Correia interviews business relationship expert Judy Robinett about how to become a power connector by meeting the right people, bonding quickly with them, and developing mutually beneficial relationships. She discusses the concept of different sized network circles, 5 close friends and family members, 50 closest business connections, and 150 as the largest number of effective connections to be made. She explains the importance of considering your professional goals and obstacles before reaching out to others. Often, the most valuable people aren’t other lawyers or people in close networks, but professionals in other fields. The best way for lawyers to build strategic relationships, Robinett suggests, is to join a powerful group, start talking to strangers, and always provide value to others first. She gives three great examples of questions to ask a potentially beneficial connection:
- How can I help you?
- What ideas do you have for me?
- Who else do you know that I should talk to?
In the end, all resources are connected to people, Robinett explains. Be scrappy and learn to connect the dots from where you are to where you want to go.
Judy Robinett is the author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5 + 50 + 150 Rule. She has more than 30 years experience as an entrepreneur and corporate leader and has served as the CEO of both public and private companies and in management positions at fortune 500 companies. Robinett was the managing director at Golden Seeds Angel Network and a member of the Department of Commerce team that defined performance criteria for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award for Performance Excellence in Healthcare, for which she received an award from President Bill Clinton. She has been called the “woman with the titanium digital rolodex.”