This topic has been covered many times, but it bears repeating. Marketing is key, and you need to get started early. I say “get started early” not because, as a first-year associate, you really have much to market. I remember sitting in these marketing meetings that my first firm forced the associates to attend and thinking, how do I market my “practice”? At that point, my “practice” consisted of document review, and, strangely, I didn’t view this talent as very marketable. Naturally, it wasn’t.
So if you technically have little to market, why should you get started early? Well, because “marketing” is really less daunting than it sounds. You don’t have to start scheduling dinners with the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Not yet, anyway. In the early years, marketing can be as simple as forcing yourself to eat lunch away from your desk. Invite your law school friends to join you for lunch. These law school chums may very well advance to a General Counsel position with a company whose business you would like to acquire. Also, you can simply get involved in your community. What interests you? Art? Dogs? Well, then maybe you should get involved at your local museum or humane society. Attend their functions. Meet people. There are always a wealth of business people and lawyers who share your interests and, also, view such events as networking opportunities.
It doesn’t so much matter what you do, but you need to step away from the desk and put yourself out there. As my wise partner mentor told me, he would work to target a particular client and, in the process, meet other people that he wasn’t directly targeting who would later give him business. Marketing, he said, is like dating. It is hard to say exactly how you should go about meeting people, but the one thing that doesn’t work is staying at home.