No matter the focus, there's nothing quite like women supporting other women. In a world where women can all too easily compete with one another, a network of women who can support, honor, and genuinely want the best for each other is rare.
Even still, it could be just what you need to propel your law firm forward. Being part of such a network not only serves to potentially make you more successful but also puts you in a prime position to help other women on their business journeys. In fact, it might only take a few small steps to help to support other female law firms or business owners in your community. Here are some ideas to help you build a women-focused referral network for your law firm.
Authentic Connections Through Campaigns and Events
Focus on building your women-focused network authentically through outreach campaigns and local networking events, especially those geared toward women. When you go to events that aren't focused on women, intentionally take time to seek out and meet other women. Be a part of local networking groups. There are many to choose from, and you can build a network of women even if you are a part of groups inclusive of men as well. CWBA is also an excellent starting point for building a women's referral network.
Connections Within Your Practice Area
Within your legal niche, you probably already have some built-in female connections that you can cultivate. For example, if your practice involves estate planners, you might be able to partner with financial advisors or other wealth management professionals. If you are a personal injury lawyer, you might be able to work on your connections with chiropractors or other common medical professionals. Real estate attorneys may have real estate agents, developers, or lease agents in their circle that they can network with. Stop and think about business professionals already within your reach that you can invite into your network and then make an effort to do so.
Welcome Speaking Invitations
Whenever possible, speak at conferences. Not only does this help get your name out there, but it also gives you an opportunity to tell many others that you are seeking opportunities to network with more businesswomen. It's quite possible that those in the audience will share what you said with others and help build your network in that way.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, whether at work, within a professional organization, or somewhere else. This might mean volunteering for different assignments, making phone calls, representing your law firm or organization at a conference, or traveling. Whatever the need is, getting out of your comfort zone will help you meet new people, which serves to help build your network.
Network for Referrals
When networking for referrals, there are a few specific tasks you should be intentional with:
Show how you offer value to your referral partner—the relationship should be a two-way street, and you should provide value first
Discuss why you're authentically trying to build a women-focused network
Verify your synergy with the other person—for example, do you share the same values or have the same clientele?
Touch base frequently to help sustain the connection—meeting face to face is powerful and should be done as long as it's possible and safe to do so
Like other important business endeavors, building a solid network of women won't happen overnight. It will take some time and trial and error. Remember that networking isn't just about increasing business. Instead, it's about developing a universe of individuals who can help you, your clients, and your contacts. There are numerous benefits for women involved in such networks. By having a female referral network, you help women support others and get the support they need.
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.