I have been in Colorado law for over 20 years and a mom for seven. If we follow Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hours Rule” meaning 10,000 hours of deliberate practice makes you an expert - by either count after years in the trenches, I am there. Raising young humans while at the same time creating a business from scratch are two of the toughest and most rewarding paths in life that I could have chosen. But no complaints here, I love it.
Although being a mom and being an entrepreneur is a constant juggle, one of the things I’ve realized is that building a network, both personally and professionally, is the key to making it work. For lawyers, building a healthy network translates to a stronger personal brand and a transportable legal practice. Controlling your network and how they see you, when they see you, and what they see from you will always be more effective than traditional advertisement or marketing. Your network will give you ideas for growth and it also gives you options in your career (now and in the future). But building a network goes beyond your practice’s bottom line. It also means that there are more people on your team and in your corner. Your personal and professional network are your cheerleaders. They are brains to pick, shoulders to lean on, and can help to alleviate the stresses and strains that go along with “having it all.”
Here are four effective networking techniques that support the mom-boss lifestyle that many of us in the legal industry have.
Connect with other working parents
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 70% of all mothers in the U.S. are working moms. This is a huge benefit to the workforce, but also for moms to network with each other. There are so many ways to connect with other parents, from school organizations to parenting support classes. Once you’re out in the community, sharing your love of your kids with others like yourself, it is easy to make the transition to let them know what you do for work. In this regard, rather than saying plainly, “I am a lawyer,” you will get more mileage from a new parent connection by sharing more detail, “I am a corporate attorney that helps small Boulder area tech companies reach their goals and protect their assets.” See the difference? You will be surprised how easy this is and how often you meet other parents who are in similar or related fields to yourself. These personal connections often become professional connections later on.
Leverage social media and technology wisely
Social media is one of those areas that can cut into your work-life balance if you’re not careful. As a parent, it can also leech away that precious time you have connecting with your spouse or little ones. This being said, your digital networking absolutely does matter. Be wise about how and when you use technology to promote yourself and build your network. Schedule times throughout your work day to specifically check in, post, or share out your accomplishments. To be even more effective, use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts at least one time each week on LinkedIn, leaving you much more time to focus on whatever is most important.
Small meetings with big impact
Everyone takes a lunch, even if it’s just a cup of coffee or a small salad. Since you have to eat anyway, find ways to make your lunchtime an opportunity for connecting with other professionals. Or, if lunch is too precious, make room in your schedule for a short coffee date with a potential new collaborator or someone in a related profession. This doesn’t have to be direct marketing or a high-pressure sales conversation. Keep your mini-dates light. Be engaged with the person across the table from you and always put your smartphone away. Talk about them, not about you. Take the time to learn what they’re passionate about and see if there are ways that you can be of service in their life. By being genuine and interested in what they’re about, you’ll often find that your interest is reciprocated and can lead to a better, stronger network.
Write and lecture
When it comes to balancing between parent life and professional life, time is always a valued commodity. One of most efficient marketing and networking tools I’ve found is adding writing and lecturing credentials to my personal portfolio. Professionally, these are a given. Every time you are in front of people, either literally or figuratively, you’re making an impact that will help open doors to future business opportunities. But as a parent, a lecture can be one of those small, 60-minute business builders that keeps you in control of your time on your terms. Consider that with just a few minutes per day, you can have a professional guest blog created in a week—all during your own business hours. You can develop a “lunch and learn” series to maximize your work time, networking opportunities, and enhance your biography in your practice area. These options respect your work-life balance but give you the professional impact that supports your professional goals.
To conclude, you can’t do everything and be everywhere at once. Networking mommy-style uses one of our most underappreciated talents of multi-tasking. It means putting your focus where it belongs and then strategically managing everything that is less important. Networking is a great way to put yourself out there and it can happen during normal business hours and while your kids are at school. It is a vital part of building your book of business and there isn’t an easy button for this aspect of being an attorney. Networking truly takes time and you will get out of it what you put in. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Make one small step today that will help you build your network, and you’ll see that, over time, the minutes you devote to increasing your personal and professional reach will give you more work-life balance and opportunities to advance in your career.
Meranda M. Vieyra
Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.
For more information, go to www.DenverLegalMarketing.com