Written by Emma O’Day, Head of Marketing for Legal Futures’ Associate The Cashroom.
Humans are social creatures, we have an inherent need to belong, to feel part of a group and to be accepted by that group for who we really are. For me this rings so true, I love being part of a group! From a young child loving Brownies to a student at University on the snow-boarding club, to a new mum in an ante-natal group, being part of a community is right up my street and personally I really feel the benefits of it. Even if you are reading this thinking that isn’t your personality, there are a lot less obvious ways of being a member of a group; a lot of us are part of groups in our personal life and reap the positive attributes these bring. Studies show that even a simple relationship between people sharing a birthday or being assigned randomly to a group is enough to increase feelings of warmth and motivation and in a very strong community there is always someone doing something amazing which can inspire you to go harder and achieve bigger goals.
Being a lawyer or a professional person is in itself a group – you feel you have achieved a lot to gain this title and the title gives you a sense of belonging.
The Cashroom Ltd participates in many groups in the legal industry. Most recently we have joined Calico Legal Solutions group as a founding member because we believe that in business as well as our personal lives that being part of a group has so many brilliant benefits! Calico is a unique collaboration founded by software and service suppliers to law firms – who wouldn’t want to be part of a unique collaboration, it just sounds cool!
In a group there are shared lessons which are so valuable. Rather than you having to learn from a mistake or success, you can reach out to your community and ask if anyone has any experience that could be valuable to your situation. In all of our life including business you are always in need of a particular service or want to meet a particular type of person – when you are in a strong community then it is hugely likely that someone can make that introduction for you.
Another benefit of being in a group is FUN! Being social animals we like to enjoy ourselves and being part of a community always involves social aspects where we can have fun.
Did you also ever think that being part of a group or community could also help your health?! It is well established that people who feel socially isolated have worse mental health than those who feel socially connected. Previous research has shown that connecting with others is as good for you as quitting smoking or doing exercise – it aids in the recovery from physical and mental illness and provides resilience for stressful life events and transitions. In a world where stress and our mental loads are constantly under pressure, anything that can help us should at least be considered.
However being part of a group isn’t just about mere contact making you feel good it is about a feeling of belonging. You feel you belong to a group; that you trust others and they trust you in a shared purpose and group members can rely on each other. Having access to a bigger audience can only be a good thing but to get the maximum benefits you need to proactively engage in the process, you can’t just expect to receive the benefits without putting in the work. You can develop your own personal business skills from peers, being open to new ideas and ways of doing things is a way to do this. Yes you will learn a lot yourself in business or running your own business but believe me you will learn so much more being part of a group.
So what kind of groups can help your legal firm?
Perhaps the most obvious is your peer group, other lawyers. A valuable recommendation your peers might be able to give you is to the best suppliers. When you use the best suppliers, you can offer your clients much better service because you are keeping costs down, sourcing the right products and having reliable delivery of what you need. Another way peers can help is by referring work. You might not offer family law but your client needs this advice, by giving the work to a peer then you are enhancing your client’s service and you may be referred work in return. These types of referral groups are become extremely popular and can mean you are able to offer your clients a full service legal firm.
Another idea is that you may want to join a group that contains complimentary businesses to help you clients, for example a corporate legal firm might join a group containing accountants and financial planners who may have services that complement what you provide for your client.
For your staff to feel all the benefits of being part of a group you may want to create internal groups within your business, you could have a marketing group that thinks up new ways to market your legal firm or even having social committee will give the individuals in the group a buzz. On LinkedIn there are so many forums you can join to communicate with your peers, so even if the idea of face to face groups gives you a bit of a shiver of dread then these can be a great way to achieve the benefits of a group, you may also be in a remote area where it is difficult to join a group and so online forums are a brilliant way to connect.
Join a group, interact and proactively engage in it and enjoy shared ideas, shared advice and experiences, better mental health, a feeling of belonging and security and have fun!