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The Friday Five

5 Tips for Networking From 6 Feet

By Camille Stell

Stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine may inhibit our ability to travel freely, but they don’t mean our networking efforts have to cease. Having a vibrant network is essential to keeping your law practice healthy.

When networking in a world of six-foot distancing, it is inevitable that we use technology. Here are ways to build community and deepen relationships while social distancing.

1. Think of Service Offerings

Here is an example of what one North Carolina lawyer has done to serve his neighbors using technology.

King Law, with small offices in 14 locations across western North Carolina and South Carolina, offered Facebook Live chats with the firm’s founder, Brian King. King addressed his comments to his local community, and he provided information for them such as recaps on the governor’s news conferences and explained what the governor’s stay-at-home order meant. King was reaching thousands of his neighbors and community through his Facebook Live updates. He also offered free family law Q&A sessions, in person and remotely, to answer questions about emergency child custody, visitation and other parental concerns in light of COVID-19.

2. Serve Others

Ask yourself, how can I be of service? You need look no further than your local news feed or emails from community charities and food banks to see we have a tremendous amount of unmet needs in our local communities. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Retweet the link to a helpful resource.
  • Share on social media what legal associations and other organizations are doing to provide aid.
  • Look for pro bono opportunities through bar associations and pro bono resource centers.
  • Drop off food items at a local food bank, or volunteer to assist in feeding kids.
  • Give blood to the American Red Cross.
  • Send an online gift card as a thank you.
  • Watch and see what the needs of others are and if you can fill a gap.

Email your contacts with a short note such as, “I wanted to see if there is anything I can do for you. You’ve been so generous with your time (or your business, your referrals), I want to return the favor if I can.”

3. Send Positive Vibes

Reach out to let someone know you are thinking of them. This is a great time to check on people with an email or call, or to send a handwritten note. When you see someone doing good, offer congratulations or thank them for their service. It is important to be authentic in your networking communications — especially now when nerves are frayed. You don’t want to send messages that look like hidden requests for business or be tone-deaf to the people you are reaching out to. But the adage is true:  The more you give, the more you get.

4. Use Tech to Connect

Now is a good time to strategically take inventory of who you want to be connected to and reach out. Look for online communities such as Facebook Groups or through a platform such as Mighty Networks that match your interests. If you can’t find a group that speaks to you, create your own. Be creative.

Follow potential clients, colleagues, associations or referral sources on LinkedIn and other social platforms. Connect, follow, comment. Use technology to stay connected and grow your network. This is also a good time to refresh and update your social media profiles.

5. Use Tech for Wellness

Use this time to start an affirmation, meditation or other wellness practice through tools such as Headspace, Breath and Calm. I’m a big fan of Insight Timer, which has a huge collection of free meditations and calming music, chants, or sounds of nature that help with sleep at night or a refreshing break during the day.

Search for lawyers in the wellness space and follow them, such as Laura Mahr with Conscious Legal Minds, who was a practicing lawyer but now focuses on working with lawyers in mindfulness and wellness topics. Attorney at Work columnist Jamie Spannhake, author of “The Lawyer, the Lion, and the Lamb,” also has good resources on her website.

My team created Wellness Wednesdays where we share wellness tips on the Microsoft Teams app. You can do this in your work environment or as an opportunity to reach out to your connections to share tips or set wellness challenges.

And, finally, reach out to a professional if you need to talk with someone. Find a friend, a trusted advisor, a spiritual leader, your employee assistance program, or a state bar resource. This might be a great time to see how telemedicine works for you.

Related reading …

“Pull Back or Press On: Using Social Media During the COVID-19 Crisis” by Michelle Garrett

“Zoom Backgrounds: Looking Good in a Tiny Square” by Bull Garlington

“Working From Home While Introverted” by Ruth Carter

“7 Public Speaking Tips for Videoconferencing” by Marsha Hunter

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Camille Stell Camille Stell

Camille Stell is President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services and a specialist in working with lawyers and firms on retirement and succession planning. Camille is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, a member of the inaugural Pro Bono Resource Center Advisory Board and she has been recognized by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly as a member of the inaugural class of “Leaders in the Law.” Learn more about Camille here and follow her @camillestell.

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