By Jacob Maslow • May 15, 2019•Issues, Mentoring and Networking
Bar association events are often the first time a young lawyer will really network. Conversations are the key to networking, but a lot of lawyers get jittery. You’re meeting new people, some who have far more experience and success than you, and it’s easy to get intimidated.
The good news is that anyone can master the art of networking.
Whether you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee and start a conversation with someone or you’re going to a networking event, it’s important to think positively and start making new contacts.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone from the Start
Humans tend to stay in their comfort zone. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to network is bringing someone along for moral support.
You'll use your friend as a crutch, talking to your friend the entire time and you may be less approachable, too. Fly solo, and you’ll be forced to talk to others and start conversations. There's also more freedom when you’re alone.
When you’re alone, you’ll be able to walk from room-to-room, spark up conversations and leave on your own terms.
Going solo is a good thing, and it led my friend who is a new lawyer to meet a private investigator in Toronto. She thought nothing of the connection until she was working on a criminal defense case in the investigator’s city.
It worked out for her and the investigator.
Work on Your Elevator Speech
So, what do you say to someone that you just met? Breaking the ice is often the hardest part of meeting people. Lawyers should work on their elevator speech.
What's an elevator speech?
The elevator speech is a short, concise speech about yourself. You need to focus on short because you’ll lose someone’s attention if you decide to blab on about yourself for too long.
It's not enough to tell someone you’re a lawyer.
An elevator pitch needs to relate to the person in a way that helps them fully understand what you’re all about. You need to explain how you help others. Your explanation may be a short blurb on how you’re a divorce lawyer that helps keep families together by working on custodial agreements that benefit all parties.
Focus on how your specialization connects with the person you’re striking up a conversation with.
Remember: it’s good to be a giver.
What does this mean?
You'll want to recommend resources to others, listen to the person and ask questions, and even check up on the person after the event. Some lawyers will send a handwritten note to the person that they connected with. Other lawyers will add their contact on LinkedIn or other social media platforms.
I recommend doing both.
Don’t overextend yourself, but don’t make the event all about you. Allow others to talk and try and find common interests. You never know who you’ll meet at an event that will be a vital contact during your career.
Networking, as you go to more events and meet more people, will become far less scary and intimidating once you start making contacts. You have a lot to offer as a lawyer, so let others know how you can help them.