The Art of Networking with J. Kelly Hoey

by Stefanie Marrone

Kelly Hoey’s book, Build Your Dream Network, is a must for anyone who wants to network with purpose and strategically grow their professional relationships in today’s hyper-connected world. Kelly’s book teaches us how to master networking in the modern age, focusing on how small changes to your daily routine, simple generosity and goal-focused planning can lead to big opportunities. 

We sat down with Kelly, former legal marketer and LMA member turned author and investor who has been featured in Forbes, Vogue and Fast Company and asked her for her top tips on networking. Also, we’re pleased to report that Kelly will be our featured panelist at the April NYLMA lunch program. More details to follow.

What are your top tips for effective networking?

As an activity, re-think what networking is. It is not schmoozing endlessly at cocktail parties or organizing business lunches. For me, networking is every single human interaction. When looked at this way, you see you have many opportunities on a daily basis to make stronger connections with other people. 

As I share in Chapter 1 of my book: Successful networking requires understanding the immense power of regular daily activities to connect with someone else. 

There are all networking activities: 

  1. Your e-mail signature line
  2. The wording of your out-of-office autoresponder
  3. Your voice-mail message
  4. Your profile on a website
  5. An update posted on your LinkedIn profile (or the headline you use on LinkedIn)
  6. Your headshot on a social media profile
    1. Your bio as a speaker or award recipient or board appointee
    2. Your invoice
    3. The music that plays when a customer is on hold
    4. Participating in a Twitter chat 

    How you present yourself in any of these “networking encounters” is as important as a VIP invitation, a solid handshake, or a slick elevator pitch. 

    So my top networking tip is to recognize the accumulative power of all these micro-networking actions! 

    In the book, you talk about how small changes to your daily routine, simple generosity and goal-focused planning can lead to big opportunities. Can you explain that a bit more?

    Networking is not just an activity – it is a process and a mindset. Perhaps it is my legal training (I was a corporate attorney before a legal marketer), but I take a critical thinking and problem-solving approach to every networking opportunity. As networking is always about connecting with other people, I recommend taking a “how can I be the person I want to network with” approach. 

    When I was in my first role at White & Case as Manager of Professional Development, I knew I needed get to know all of the partners in the New York office. Relationships may start with reviewing an online bio or sending an email, but face-to-face conversations are still where connections are forged. Knowing it was physically impossible for me to have coffee or lunch with every partner, I grabbed chances to meet 1:1 as they arose: that could be as simple as taking the stairs to continue a conversation or getting off speaker phone and down to someone’s office to meet.   

    And a terrific example of this “small change” in routine taken from Build Your Dream Network is attorney Lois Herzeca, a partner at Gibson Dunn. Early in her career – and late at night while at the office – Lois wrote a personal note to send a long with her check to a not-for-profit. That note led to a conversation that led to a board seat and that board seat has led to others. A tiny act (taking a minute to write a note expressing an interest to learn more) can led to many 

    productive and fulfilling opportunities. 

    What is the best way to gracefully exit a conversation?

    Be polite. There’s not one answer given the endless number of difficult, awkward, dull and uncomfortable situations we can find ourselves in. By being polite, you can walk away staying true to your values. 

    What advice would you give junior legal marketers and associates when it comes to building their networks?

    Build your network before you think you’ll ever need it. Network within your firm and network within your profession. When I was Manager of Alumni Programmes at White & Case, I was able to get my job done because of the relationships I had built with my colleagues across the firm in marketing, recruiting, HR, finance and professional development. Those relationships were the only resource I had to draw on (I had no direct reports or budget, but more on that another day). Professional relationships within the industry are key. Get to know your peers through organizations and associations like the LMA. Peer connections helped me not only find my first job in law firm management, they provided a sounding board for challenges I was facing in my new role as well as being a source of industry intelligence and insights. 

    Many of us work with lawyers every day. Any advice for how we counsel them on maximizing their networks to generate new business and keep existing connections strong?

    Lead by example. You’re in a stronger position to guide them when you’re living the advice (not simply dishing it out).  Keeping the power of micro-networking actions in mind, here are a couple of simple suggestions: 

    1. Review and update their firm bio. Does it represent who they are or is it so generic as to be any patent litigator at any law firm?
    2. Assess their LinkedIn profile too. Is their profile on this platform complete (and is it factually aligned to their firm bio)? LinkedIn is the profile clients use to assess their counsel and also where journalists seek out expertise. Your lawyers aren’t helping their business development or PR efforts by neglecting this networking platform.
    3. Share their point-of-view whether it is in the firm newsletter or on an approved blog – then share th
      1. is on social media (whether a tweet or update on LinkedIn). If they’re not producing their own content, then share the news and updates of others in the firm. Think of this as cross –selling: you’re leveraging the power of individual networks and one lawyer’s update could lead to a new client for another lawyer at the firm. 

      How can lawyers effectively use LinkedIn as a networking tool?

      Use it as a networking platform and research tool for planning business development activities rather than simply as a site for your resume. Share updates regularly. Follow-up with people you meet by sending a personalized connection request on LinkedIn. Use the follow company feature to keep on top of your clients (and client targets). And check out my LinkedIn tips for more ideas on how to improve their use of the site.

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