It should come as no surprise to hear us say that networking is a must for any lawyer’s career. The act can bring new job opportunities, help acquire new clients, build new relationships, and solidify old connections. Although networking is vital to every legal professional, the reality is that some of us are just par for the course at it.
This is okay, especially in light of an article put forth by the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC). The NALSC piece, Effective Tips on Strategic Connecting at Events, provides excellent advice for those wanting to make more lasting connections at networking events. In support of our desire to make our candidates more effective networkers, we provide five of the article’s best tips below.
We’ll admit that it’s not always easy to attend a social event with rampant enthusiasm. But, lawyers must attend these events with some demonstrable attentiveness. Nobody likes making a connection with a “Debbie Downer” or a “Bob the Boring.” Showing some interest will draw people towards you and will also make conversations more meaningful.
This is closely related to the last point. Again, nobody enjoys networking or speaking with a person that is negative or disagreeable. People rather prefer to socialize with others that are upbeat and positive. We’re not saying attorneys have to attend a program on “Positivity in Life,” but projecting a positive presence will help them become better connectors.
Many attorneys attend social events and want to simply talk about their careers. However, we have to remind all lawyers that these events are about building relationships with others. This means attorneys should ask other attendees meaningful questions and actually take the time to listen to their answers. Listening helps the other person feel more secure and it helps foster new questions.
Goals are so important in life, even when it comes to networking. Setting a goal prior to an event will help keep an attorney focused, organized, and interested. Good goals are for a professional:
- to make “x” new connections,
- to meet a new person in a particular field of the law, or
- to find a new potential referral source for new clients.
Lawyers should establish goals prior to attending a social event, and they should be thoughtfully crafted.
The art of networking is not over once an event ends. The magic in the process happens in the days following the happening. And, this magic is called following up with the new people that sparked an interest. If an attorney fails to follow up, then there was really no point in attending the event in the first place. A great method to re-touch base is to connect with a potential new connection via social media (e.g., LinkedIn).
The above is just a sampling of the great tips put forth in the aforementioned NALSC piece. Please do yourself a favor and read the entirety of the article to help boost your networking performance and to help build better connections. Also, please never hesitate to contact us with any networking questions that you may have. Further, for those of you in or near Seattle, the Washington State Bar Association’s website is an excellent resource to learn of great networking events in the area.