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“I don’t do marketing, selling or business development. I am a professional, a lawyer, an expert and specialist who does a great job, so the referrals will come.” You simply cannot prosper if you have that attitude. It is time to wake up; it is the 21st century, and even the supermarket is moving in. You all know about ‘Tesco Law’ and the Legal Services Bill. You simply cannot play ostrich if you want to succeed.

The competition is hotting up and if you want to keep your slice of the cake you have to rethink your position: any business could be preparing to muscle in on your profession.

The AA and Halifax have already begun offering limited legal services in anticipation of the changes. Both companies are outsourcing the work to external solicitors but will eventually be able to employ their own legal staff.

So, how can you protect and improve your position? To be an all-rounded modern day legal professional it is naturally expected you that you know your area of expertise and keep up with any developments. You have to understand what your clients are trying to achieve in order to provide them with a creative edge, you must ensure they are ahead of the opposition and listen carefully – that way you learn what your client wants and needs. Building a strong, two-way relationship with your clients is vital, not just selling services for a quick fix. Make sure you understand that the relationship you have is about creating value for your client, not just paying lip service to it. And last but not least, enthusiastically become part of the business development team.

In today’s highly competitive and uncertain world, being a confident and effective networker helps make you an all round professional; it sets you apart from the crowd. You become more visible, always feel in control and will always create more business opportunities than your competitors. Professionals in particular find this aspect of their work life somewhat of a challenge.

So, what is networking? The irony is you have been networking from the day you strung a sentence together. Networking is simply building relationships and every relationship we have ever built in our lives, be it a business or social one, has three key stages:

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