The strength of your future career depends on the depth of your professional network. Handing out business cards and occasionally pinging people on social media isn’t enough to create the kind of deep connections that can drastically improve your legal career. Let’s take a look at four ways you can strengthen your professional network.
- Choose your contacts wisely. You can’t be close to everyone. There are simply not enough hours in a day. That’s why it’s important to choose which connections you want to deepen. Pick only those people who can offer you something of value and with whom you have something in common.
- Listen closely. Pay close attention to what the most important people in your network are saying. What are their biggest concerns? What causes do they support? What are their needs and goals? By focusing on what the VIPs of your professional network are saying, you can get a better idea of how you can deepen your connection with them.
- Make them money. One of the easiest ways to strengthen a professional network is to send money making opportunities their way. Is one of the people in your network looking for work? Refer them to a law firm or send them job opportunities you run across. Is another looking to start a solo law practice? Share helpful articles on how to build a thriving business.
- Support their causes. Have you noticed that someone in your professional network shares your passion for a particular cause? Let them know. Send them notices about events and news related to the cause. Invite them to attend an event with you that’s related to the cause. But make sure your interest is genuine. People will notice if you’re faking it.
As you take action to deepen your professional connections, check for reciprocity. Are the people you’re reaching out to doing the same for you? If not, then focus your energy on those who do.
Social media is a powerful tool for legal recruiters, but there are a few good reasons why many successful recruiters still rely on cold calling. Let’s take a closer look at three reasons why cold calling still works:
- It’s personal. No matter how carefully you try to engage people online, picking up the phone and talking to a customer will always feel more personal. Cold calling allows you to listen to the other person’s voice, gauge their mood, and get a sense for their level of interest.
- It’s immediate. You can get detailed feedback on a cold call quickly, and that’s simply isn’t possible in most online exchanges. On a cold call you can ask questions and probe deeper into the customer’s answers. Duplicating dynamic cold conversations in an online environment is tedious and most times impossible. You simply can’t get detailed answers in tweet or Facebook post. You need the phone.
- It’s direct. While social media is an excellent way to meet people and stay connected, it’s often very difficult to connect with the real decision makers. Imagine the Twitter timeline for a busy law firm partner—he/she may receive dozens of mentions daily. This means that unless you have a personal relationship with that person, your message could get lost in the fray. Cold calling is a good way to solidify an online relationship while using social media to keep it fresh.
No matter how much you rely on social media to connect with clients, cold calling is a good way to meet new prospects and break through the online wall of noise.
Long gone are the days of sending resumes and cover letters by postal mail, but that doesn’t mean you should get slack on your level of professionalism. Below are a few rules for emailing legal recruiters and hiring managers that every job candidate should follow:
- Use a clear subject line. Don’t make the recipient of your email guess about its content. Your subject line should be as descriptive and brief as possible. For example, if you’re responding to a job ad and it asks that you include certain verbiage in the subject line, do so. The subject line verbiage request is used to make the recipient’s job easier. Remember, both hiring managers and legal recruiters receive many emails from candidates applying for a variety of jobs.
- Attach documents with care. Don’t attach excessively large documents to your email. And when you do attach documents, use formats that most people can access such as .pdf, .docx, .doc, and .txt. If possible, also include in your email a link to an online version of your resume.
- Stay professional. While you may use email primarily as a form of informal communications, remain professional when addressing hiring managers and legal recruiters. When possible, use Mr./Ms. and the recipient’s full name. You should also avoid text speak such as “lol” and “smh.” Using text speak will not leave a good impression.
- Include contact information. While your email address will be obvious to the recipient, you should also include a phone number and any social media handles you want to share. Just be sure to include only social media handles that are for your professional (not personal) accounts.
Making a good impression with hiring managers and legal recruiters begins with a professionally composed email.
Emailing prospects is one of the easiest ways to follow-up on a sales call, but it can also be one of the most spammy ways. Below are a few things legal recruiters can do to avoid being a spam artist:
- Get permission. If you’re following up via email with a prospect you cold called, get their permission first. One of the easiest ways is to get their email address and ask if it’s okay for you to email them information. Absolutely do not add anyone to your ongoing marketing list without asking for their express permission.
- Don’t send bulk emails. Try to personalize each email so that it at least includes the prospect’s name. Bulk emails read as spam, even if it’s a follow-up email.
- Don’t pester people. One follow-up email is enough. Any more than one follow-up email may be annoying. Remember, some prospects may not respond to your email because they’re simply not interested. Don’t become pushy by sending multiple follow-up messages even when the prospect has failed to respond to your first one.
- Respect boundaries. If a prospect asks you to not email them, stop immediately. It’s up to you to make sure that they are not contacted again. Create a “no-contact” list and check all mailings against it before hitting the send button.
- Use double opt-in. If you’re converting your email list from one program to another, have everyone double opt-in before contacting them. Double opt-ins ensure that the contacts you’re emailing still want to receive information, and it protects you from being labeled as a spammer.
Remember, your email list is a work in progress and it’s up to you to keep up with the latest rules governing email marketing of your recruiting business.
Law school is challenging, even the smartest students can find it difficult to keep up and thrive. But forming a study group is one of the most effective tactics you can use to leverage the mental power of your fellow students to not only survive law school, but to do extremely well. Below are a few tips on how to create a successful study group:
- Keep it small. Too many cooks in the kitchen really can ruin a good meal. Keep your study group limited to three to five people. Anything larger could become cumbersome, waste time, and leave someone getting very little benefit.
- Be selective. Law school is an environment where people are never rewarded for just showing up. This is how you should think when selecting the members of your study group. Only choose those students who have proven that they have the smarts to contribute something of value. And don’t be shy about asking people to leave if they don’t contribute.
- Get a schedule. Your study group should meet at least once a week at a set time and place. This consistency will help keep people on task and give them an opportunity to plan well in advance.
- Create an agenda. To avoid wasting your time, each study group meeting should have a set agenda. Know exactly what you’re studying and how you’re going to study it. Any materials needed should be distributed well in advance of the meeting.
- Stay on task. Designate one person to keep the study group on task at each meeting. Your meetings should have a start and end time. If you can, agenda items (or study tasks) should also have a set start and end time.
Creating a successful student group will enhance your academics experience and your social circle.
Just like your personal finances, in your business financial stability really does depend mostly on how much money you keep not just how much you earn. That’s why it’s important that independent legal recruiters cut expenses whenever possible. Let’s explore four ways you can save big bucks in your business:
- Establish business credit. Like most entrepreneurs, independent recruiters start out using personal credit to finance their business. However, in the long run using personal credit can be costly due to higher interest rates. Save yourself tons of money by establishing business credit lines which offer better terms and interest rates than personal lines of credit.
- Audit your technology. Technology products and services such as mobile, ATS, and internet can spring serious leaks in your business budget. Take a closer look at how much you pay for these services and ask for a better deal. Many companies may offer you a serious discount if you bundle services or signup for long-term contracts. You should also eliminate any product or service that you don’t use or that you don’t need.
- Cut printing costs. Much of the business world has gone paperless, and for good reason—being paperless can save hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars every year. Ink, paper, and postage can be costly. Save yourself time and money by using email and online invoicing services whenever possible.
- Pay your bills early. Some vendors offer significant discounts if you pay your bill before the due date. Inquire about how much you’ll save if you’re willing to pay within 7 days of an invoice instead of 30 – 60 days.
Remember, it’s a lot easier to save money than it is to earn it.
Informational interviews are a great way to make connections and learn about the legal industry and the law firms for which you want to work. However, many professionals are resistant to granting informational interviews because they can be time consuming and annoying when done with an unprepared job seeker. However, there are a few things you can do to convince someone to grant you an informational interview.
- Attend industry events. Asking someone for an informational interview AFTER you’ve spoken to them at an industry event is a lot easier than asking someone you’ve never met. If you’re looking to conduct informational interviews, make attending industry events a priority.
- Get referred. The second best way to soften up contacts is to get referred to them by someone they respect. Reach out to your network and let them know which law firms you have an interest in, and then ask if they have any contacts they can refer you to for an informational interview.
- Use email. Once you identify the person you want to interview, contact them via email. In this case, calling may feel intrusive, especially if you’ve never met them before. Remember, established professionals are busy and may not have time to return your phone call.
- Be specific. When asking a contact for an informational interview, don’t use vague language such as “I would like to talk about the legal industry.” Use specific language such as, “I would like to talk to you about your experience working as a bankruptcy attorney for mostly small businesses.”
- Don’t send your resume. When requesting an informational interview don’t forward your resume unless you’re asked to. Remember, informational interviews are not about landing a job, but getting information that can help your career.
As you make efforts to land informational interviews, don’t forget to be courteous, say thank you, and respect other people’s right to say no.
Cold calling is the key to keeping your recruiting business’ pipeline full. But when you engage in repeated faux pas when on a cold call, you could be hurting your business. Below are three things you should never do on a cold call:
- Don’t become too familiar. Yes, you want to create a connection with the person on the other line, but a genuine connection not a fake one. Be careful to never overreach by using a familiar tone or over-friendly language when on a cold call. Avoid using words like “girlfriend” or “bro” when on a cold call even after you’ve developed a good connection.
- Don’t interrupt. No matter how eager you are to make a point or correct a flawed assumption, do not interrupt the person you’re cold calling. Interrupting could create animosity and resentment and cause you to lose a sale. If the person you’re cold calling rambles on, wait until there’s a pause in their monologue and politely tell them that you don’t mean to interrupt but that you did want to point out something important.
- Don’t directly pitch your services. Yes, you’re on a sales call, but if it’s your first call to this particular person you should spend time discovering their needs and finding out how your recruiting services can fulfill those needs. Avoid randomly rattling off your credentials. Listen instead and only speak when addressing their specific needs and goals.
The next time you cold call potential clients, avoid the most damaging faux pas and you’ll improve your chances of making the sale.
Conducting a job search can be costly in both time and money. Fortunately, you can get some of those expenses back by making appropriate deductions on your taxes. Below are four job search deductions you can make on your taxes:
- Training. Many attorneys searching for work will invest in additional education and training by returning to school or attending workshops. Keep your receipts because the expenses associated with furthering your education while looking for work can be deducted from your taxes.
- Travel. Whether you’re traveling across the country or across the city, you can deduct travel expenses from your taxes. Keep a record of mileage you put on your car while attending networking events, interviews, and conferences related to your job search. Also, keep the receipts for any air/bus/train travel associated with looking for work. But be careful, you can only deduct from your taxes travel costs directly related to your job search.
- Childcare. It’s expensive having someone look after your children while you’re on the job hunt, but you can deduct the cost. If you’re hiring a babysitter while you engage in job search activities, keep thorough records and deduct the expense from your taxes.
- Moving. Oftentimes finding a new job means that you’ll need to move. Fortunately, you can deduct moving costs from your taxes if they are related to finding a new job and the move is at least 50 miles away from where you currently live.
As long as you’re looking for a job in the same profession you worked in previously and you haven’t taken a substantial break from work, there are many job search deductions that will reduce your tax liability.
Every business needs a loyal client base, because without customers your business will eventually wither on the vine. So how do you grow and nurture a loyal client base? Below are a few tips:
- Communication. You must be consistently available to your customers. This doesn’t mean that you can never have times that you’re not available but that you should have business hours and at least a few modes of contact. You should also quickly respond to client inquires. And if you’re unable to respond quickly, have an “out of the office” message that lets them know when you’ll get back to them.
- Anticipate their needs. As a legal recruiter you must be able to anticipate the hiring needs of employers. Did they just open a new office? Then maybe they’ll need you to find a few good attorneys. The only way you can accurately anticipate the needs of your clients is to watch their business for changes. Being attentive and responsive to your client’s needs will help foster a sense of loyalty.
- Ask for feedback. No matter how good of a recruiter you are, things will inevitably go wrong. When they do, be receptive to feedback. Find out what you can do better to help the client reach their goals and put a plan in place to improve your process.
- Create a client profile. As your recruiting business develops you will begin to recognize which clients are the best fit. Create a client profile and seek out only those clients who closely match it. Doing business with the right type of people will make it easier to build a loyal client base.
No matter what stage you’re at in your business, growing a loyal client base is critical for sustainable success.