EDITOR’S NOTE: Certified Legal Nurse Consultants market to attorneys in a wide variety of ways. However, only one strategy is free, effective and used by ALL CLNC® consultants – networking. You’ll become a wiser networker with the help of our CLNC® Pros. We asked these experts to share their best strategies for networking your way to CLNC® success.
Start implementing these best practices today. They work for the CLNC® Pros – they will work for you, too. Just remember to network with anybody and everybody who comes within three feet of you. Anyone you meet could hold the golden key to your next attorney-client.
Embrace and Prepare for Every Networking Event
- Embrace networking without fear. New Certified Legal Nurse Consultants often do not network aggressively for fear of having to talk about themselves. All of us have been afraid we would botch the interaction and run our networking target off while we were still lost in the midst of internal dialogue. Just do it!
- Polish your networking skills. Practice networking everywhere you go. Networking is an acquired skill just like starting an IV is. If you’re shy, genuinely focus on the person you’re speaking to and not on how you’re feeling. Focusing on the other person does the trick every time.
- Do your homework on the event. For example, you decide to attend a chamber of commerce event. Look up information about your local chamber. How many members does the group have? What is their vision and mission?
- Create the perfect mind-set before you arrive at the event. If you feel unsure of yourself, consider the event as an exercise in using your nursing assessment skills. If you still can’t bring yourself to mingle, try pretending you have the event under surveillance. Observe how others interact, exchange cards, etc. Then resolve to put what you noticed into action with at least three people before you leave. After all, you made an effort to attend and perhaps even paid a fee. Do not waste this opportunity.Bolster your mind-set by appreciating your interviewing expertise as an RN and by seeing these new people as friends instead of strangers.
- Treat each networking event as unique. Each situation calls for a different style of conversation and sharing of information. Plan your networking strategy accordingly.
Network Anywhere and Everywhere
- Make networking a part of your everyday life. Don’t get stuck in a rut of only networking professionally. Potential attorney-clients are just like you – they have an active life filled with a variety of interests. They also have to meet life’s routine demands. You never know who will need your CLNC® services or how you will meet a new attorney-client. You can meet a prospective attorney-client on a plane, on a bike ride, at church, school, an athletic event or even shopping. Networking can happen in the most unexpected places when the topic turns to what you do and your unique role as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.Be open and friendly, especially if you’re stuck in a long line at the grocery store or during the holiday rush at the mall. Seize the moment and initiate a little small talk. Once you have discussed the price of produce, move right on to your CLNC® business. You just might be standing next to an attorney.
“I was flying to San Antonio and I met an RN on the plane. I told her I was a CLNC® consultant and she said her husband’s brother was an attorney. She took my card and I obtained her contact information. Two weeks later, I called her and she said, ‘I am so glad you called. My brother-in-law needs an OR nurse.’ He turned out to be a great attorney-client and I have done several cases with him. It sounds simple because it is simple. Just introduce yourself. The rest will take care of itself.”
– Millie Mannion, RN, BSN, CNOR, CLNC
- Ask the paramount question. Ask friends, family and everyone you meet, “Who do you know who practices law, works for a law firm or is connected with the legal system?” You may be surprised at who they know and who their friends know. As one CLNC® consultant says: “This question works every time, I have a friend who didn’t know any attorneys but his wife did. She led me to her best friend’s husband, who was an attorney, and he referred me to three more attorneys.”
- Turn children’s activities into networking opportunities. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, you are probably involved in school or sports activities. As you meet new parents, teachers or coaches, mention your CLNC® business. You’ll be surprised how many attorneys and attorneys’ spouses you may meet. What a perfect opportunity to pass your business card to them.
- Take a trip down memory lane. Social media is a great resource to reconnect with our grammar school, high school and college friends. Retie the connection with those old friends. Share how excited you are about your CLNC® business. Educate them about your role as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and ask for leads. Contact the leads they give you and mention the friend who referred you. This gives you an instant “in.”
- Volunteer in places where you might meet attorneys. Many professional people do volunteer work. Find a cause you believe in and devote yourself to it. You never know who you will meet in the process.
“By being a member of Rotary I have been able to get excellent referrals. We get to know each other in a more personal way, which creates trust. Once people know you and trust you, they think of you when they meet an attorney. Or, if any of them are attorneys, they don’t hesitate to use me or refer me to their attorney friends.”
– Dale Barnes, RN, MSN, PhN, CLNC
- Don’t miss a single holiday party. Even a boring holiday party is ripe with juicy networking opportunities. Be ready with your 30-second elevator speech. When someone asks what kind of work you do, you can say, “Why, I’m a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. How about you?” “Why, I’m an attorney.” Yes, it can be just that easy.
- If you have a family member facing a legal issue, be assertive in offering to help their attorney. Usually the family member is distraught and finds comfort in having you involved. Plus your nursing expertise will contribute to accurate assessment of the merits of the case and a successful result if the case is meritorious. Offer to contact the attorney directly so that you clearly define your CLNC® role in the case. Do not expect to be paid since you are related to the prospective plaintiff; however, your consultation will assuredly result in future benefits.
- Ask your insurance agent for attorney referrals. The agent who handles your homeowner’s and auto insurance will know which attorneys handle the insurance company’s personal injury cases. Remember to drop your agent’s name to help get you past the gatekeeper when you call the attorney.
- Be active in a professional networking group. This includes attorney groups as well as other professional groups. Don’t just show up. Serve on committees and on the board. That way members of the group will get to know you and understand what you do. They will more readily refer attorney-prospects to you.
“One of my strongest networking strategies is to join associations that attorneys belong to, such as the trial lawyers or State Bar associations. This allows you to be around attorneys in their native environment where they are comfortable.”
– Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC
“I met my very first attorney-client at a local State Bar association meeting. Attending State Bar association meetings are valuable for many reasons. They are usually at a small, inexpensive venue and offer personal and intimate interaction with attorneys. In my area, they are held at lunch and include an educational presentation. The topic-specific presentation with a Q&A session allows me to get to know the attorneys and their specialties before I approach them and ‘puts a name to the face.’ Ultimately, it provides a relaxed atmosphere to engage conversation and promote networking.”
– Debra Good-Zeiner, RN, BSN, CLNC
- Turn public speaking engagements into networking opportunities. Take advantage of every chance to speak in public, whether for a community group, attorney association or nursing conference. When you give a presentation, leverage the visibility you gain by networking furiously and by sending out a news release to your local media.
P.S. Comment and share how you’ve used networking to grow your CLNC® business.
P.P.S. Be sure to come back on June 13 for Part 2 of 25 Ways to Network Your Way to CLNC® Success.