Let’s be real, networking can be awkward. Navigating a room of unfamiliar faces, trying to strike up meaningful conversations, and all the while being hyper-aware of your hand gestures. It’s no wonder most of us find it uncomfortable, or even downright intimidating.
And yet, for lawyers, networking is a professional necessity, as indispensable a skill as crafting a compelling legal brief. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing practical tips to transform those awkward handshakes and small talk moments into opportunities for growth and success. Get ready to embrace the power of connection!
Don’t just bring your business cards, bring your expertise.
Many fall into the trap of viewing networking as a self-promotion opportunity but it’s not. Networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships. You should therefore offer value before you seek it.
Position yourself as a resource of industry insights and be generous with your knowledge.
Not only will this establish credibility and trust but it will lay the foundations for connections that extend beyond immediate gains.
Master your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a concise and compelling summary of who you are, what you do and what value you can bring. Ideally, you want to deliver the above and leave a memorable impression on the listener in the time it takes to ride in an elevator, hence the name.
Your pitch is your verbal business card, so take time to craft and practice your pitch before putting it to use in real life.
Demonstrate genuine curiosity
As tricky as it might be, try not to be constantly thinking of your next sentence. Instead, listen actively to those you meet and ask thoughtful questions.
You’ll walk away from the conversation with a much better idea of the person’s needs and interests allowing you greater opportunity to add value to your relationship and future interactions.
Find common ground
Find shared interests outside of work such as your favourite hobby or sports team. Discovering shared aspects of your personality allows for a more personal and enduring connection. It will also make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Attend workshops, talks and seminars
Not only are workshops and seminars a great way to keep up to date with the latest developments in your relative practice area or industry, they’re also a great way to network, particularly if networking is daunting for you.
Attendance of the same talk or seminar is an instant point of commonality. You are certain to have something to talk about, to break the ice and ease into a conversation.
Attend events with a buddy
If the idea of solo networking still terrifies you, go along with a colleague or friend. Having a familiar face can ease the initial discomfort and create a more approachable atmosphere.
But be conscious not to fall into the trap of standing in the corner chatting with your friend, Make sure you circulate the room and make the most of the opportunity to expand each other’s networks.
Follow up every time
Networking is only effective if you follow up. An exchange of business cards or LinkedIn details is only the first step in building a long-lasting and meaningful relationship.
So how should you follow up? Well, it should go without saying, but connect with them on LinkedIn and send a personalised message or email.
You should start your message by expressing gratitude for their time and any insights they provided. Then make sure to briefly reference your conversation from the previous day, you want to help them remember the context in which you met. Then suggest a next step such as meeting for coffee or a follow-up call.
And, if you promised to connect them with someone else in your network, make sure you follow through
Regardless of whether you’re an old hat or not, it’s safe to say that networking may always be tinged with awkwardness. But next time you are at an event where you don’t know anyone, remember these tips and embrace the power of connection.
Your next big opportunity is just a conversation away. Happy networking!
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