I do a lot of networking for my job. It’s not easy, and it’s mentally exhausting.
I’m an introvert that subscribes to the “fake it ’til you make it” style. I pretend to be a calm and comfortable extrovert. In reality, I’m nervous and uncomfortable. Here are a few tips I have for networking events. And after you glance at these, check out this awesome post Bonnie wrote about Working a Networking Event.
- Don’t expect someone to sign up to be your client and hand you a retainer that day.
- Be yourself, but be your professional-self! Most lawyers I know have their lawyer-personality and their real-life-personality. (some don’t, but that’s an issue for a different post) These times for networking are good to let your personality shine through and really connect on a personal level with connections in your community. But whatever you do is also going to shine through to your professional reputation. Please don’t start taking shots, dancing on tables, and talking about your latest dating exploits. Be the you that you’d want to hire or refer.
- Go alone. This is a personal thing. Because I’m so uncomfortable at these events if I go with a friend I will latch onto them. Instead of making the rounds and meeting new people, I will talk to that one person I know and go home realizing I turned a good business opportunity into a social hour.
- Bring business cards, but if you don’t hand any out don’t feel like you wasted time. Just like friendships, business contacts take awhile to grow. People want to get to know you before they start sending clients your way. Maybe you’ll see that person next time and you will have the opportunity to reconnect.
Some benefits I’ve found from networking are making new friends, meeting other lawyers who I can call if I have questions – and they can call me, invitations to join different Boards, and building relationships in the community. Because of a networking event I went to, I was invited to join my law school’s alumni board in my city. It’s been a great experience and now my name is on programs for an event this week. Things like that take time and investment, but if you’re in an industry where you need to bring in clientele, every time you get your name out there something good can happen.
Do you have to go to networking events? What are your tips?
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