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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 28, 201412:00 PM EST

Schmooze your way to success with The JBA Social Committee

by: G. Glenn Warren

Have you ever wondered whether attending JBA social events is beneficial to your practice? Have you asked yourself why you should bother to take the time to attend these events when you are so busy?

Do you avoid them because you hate to “schmooze”? You know you need more business in the future, but will your fellow attorneys actually refer work to you?

Are your time and resources better spent by going in another direction to look for business? These are questions most of us ask ourselves each time we see an announcement for an upcoming JBA social event and are faced with making the decision whether or not we will attend.

The practice of law has changed drastically over the last 10 years due to the convenience of emails and the saturation of social media which paradoxically keeps us all more connected, yet at the same time pushes us further away.

Electronically accessing someone equates to a detached distance and the cold facelessness of a keyboard; this is certainly no match for communicating in person.

Despite these changes, one of the strongest components to building and maintaining a successful law practice is having meaningful relationships with other lawyers. Don’t underestimate the power of a handshake.

This simple statement is so obvious that we often tend to dismiss its profundity. However, frequent networking is one of the primary factors in building meaningful relationships. Attending one event a year will not help your business grow.

The old adage of “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” has never been as true as it is in today’s business world. I cannot count how many times I have either received a referral or made a referral to a fellow lawyer after seeing them at a JBA social event.

Also, frequently seeing colleagues in a social setting with whom you hope to do business may help keep your name and area of specialty in their mind, and put them more at ease with referring clients to you. As we all are aware, our own reputation is put on the line with each referral we make.

Establishing relationships with other attorneys, knowing their personalities and work ethic, as well as them knowing yours, only reinforces the confidence (and therefore the frequency) with which professional referrals are made.

JBA social events are intentionally spaced throughout the year to help us stay connected, and ultimately assist us in networking more effectively. By attending more events, you will have the opportunity not only to establish new relationships, but better maintain the ongoing relationships you already have.

Quality relationships are built over time; therefore, consistent participation is certainly more beneficial. In marketing, face time is priceless. Looking someone in the eye, finding common areas of interest, discovering complementary areas of expertise, or simply “hitting it off” with someone can make a lasting impression, and therefore spread your name through the most personal and valuable marketing tool available to us – professional referral and word of mouth.

Few (if any) important opportunities were ever obtained by just “liking” someone’s online posts.

JBA members are fortunate to have such a strong membership base and talented contemporaries. We have an efficient and accessible marketing tool at our disposal several times a year.

So the next time you are deciding whether you should attend a Jacksonville Bar Association social event such as the “Bench & Bar,” JBA golf tournament, monthly luncheons, Law Day, Suns game, Young Lawyers Section events or many others, I would suggest you ask yourself this question, “Can my practice afford for me not to go?”

I look forward to seeing you at the next function so I may perhaps establish a new networking relationship or reaffirm one of the many I have been so blessed to have made over the years.

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