To some, networking comes easy. To others, like me, it seems like more of a daunting task. I’m not the most talkative person in the world and I’m pretty private about my life, so it’s hard to talk about myself and open up to strangers in conversation. But, I’m here to tell you that even the most reserved people can overcome this obstacle!
So, if you were thinking about skipping that networking event, DON’T. I don’t care what your excuse is. Go. You never know who you will meet.
Things to do
1. Change your mindset.
Don’t be like me and look at networking as a task. That is the wrong mindset to have. Look at it as an opportunity. Rid your mind of all things negative and think about all of the positive things that can come from you attending the event. New connections that could potentially turn into lasting relationships, a new job or internship opportunity, enlightening conversations that provide a better understanding of the industry that you’re in, and more!
2. Be prepared.
This is the most important step.
- Print resumes/business cards– Leave something tangible with who you’re speaking to. Business cards and resumes are a great way for people to contact you in the future. If it is a virtual event, drop your LinkedIn in the chat or ask for theirs!
- Figure out who is going to be there– If you’re in school, ask your career services department. If you’re headed to a conference, this information is usually on the conference website or within registration materials. Either way, ask around!
- Make a list of questions (see a list of potential questions below)
3. Look the part.
Dress appropriately for your event. If it is a career fair during the day, the appropriate attire will more than likely be business professional. If it is an event after hours at a bar, something more casual might work. But, if you’re unsure, it is always better to over dress than under dress!
4. Explore options outside of your interests.
Talk to people who do something different from what you want to do. You never know, you might find their line of work interesting. Or, they may connect you with someone in the line of work that you’re interested in.
5. Exchange business cards.
This will help the person you were speaking with remember you. You want to make a lasting impression and provide a way for them to keep in touch.
6. Jot notes during your conversation.
This will help you remember who you talked to! I suggest writing them on the back of their business card. This will help for follow up emails. It is always nice to include something about your conversation to jog their memory and make it more personal.
7. Let the conversation flow organically.
Most importantly, don’t force the conversation. There have been times where a conversation didn’t necessarily go how I had planned it in my head lol. But you have to go with the flow. You don’t want to seem unnatural or awkward.
8. Follow up.
This step is often forgotten about but is oh so important. Be sure to send emails to the people you met. It doesn’t have to be an extensive message. Just be sure to thank them for their time and include a highlight from your conversation. Make sure you try to do this within 24 hours while the event is still fresh in both you and your acquaintances’ minds. If you are unable to follow up within a day, do so within 48 hours at the latest.
Questions to ask
- What kind of law do you practice?
- Where do you practice?
- How do you get clients/cases?
- How do you advertise and market yourself?
- How did you get your start?
- What road did you take to get to where you are now?
- What are some challenges that you face in this area of law?
- What does your firm look for in a potential candidate when hiring?
To really “wow” who you’re speaking to, ask them more specific questions relating to their particular practice area or field. Do some research and look up current events. If you’re already well-versed in an area, use that to your advantage.
Most of all, be yourself! We naturally want to impress people that we meet, especially if the connection can be beneficial to us. Just keep in mind that attorneys are humans too. Be genuine, inquisitive, and open minded. Follow these steps and you’ll be sure to leave an impression.