Many attorneys dislike it when we recommend networking as part of their law firm marketing plan. They dislike it for a few reasons:
The meetings take up a significant amount of time.
The nature of the meetings make the attorney feel compelled to pass referrals even if he has no opportunity to so do.
The attorney has little control and the time invested is significant so they do not see a return on the investment of their time.
There is a way to solve this problem and still have a great networking experience while you get more referrals.
The Steps involved in Starting a Networking Group Exclusively for Attorneys
Step One: Select a common theme. I recommend the theme have something to do with education. Marketing, business development and practice management are all good topics that attorneys are interested in. Developing your networking events around a 10 minute educational speech will have a significant impact on attendance.
Step Two: Schedule all meetings in advance. This is critical to full participation. If you schedule the meetings 12 months in advance people will be able to block the time on their calendars.
Step Three: Keep it social. Make the meetings a social event and not a learning event. You should have an educational component but you should also give people an opportunity to interact with one another. That is where the real business takes place.
Step Four: Make it difficult to be accepted. Make this group challenging to attend. Make sure you are focused on the quality of the membership and not just the quantity. These people will get priority in your referral Rolodex and you want to make sure they will give you priority as well.
The strategy of setting up your own referral network is a good one for attorneys who like to be in control of their own destiny. I highly recommend you take a look at this as an opportunity to build and grow your network of referral sources.