There are two reasons that lawyer network. First, to find a job. Second, to find a case.
However, most lawyers—even when they practice law effectively—fail to network correctly. In fact, your colleagues may tell you out right that they’re attending a function purely to nap a big client or new case.
Other lawyers resist networking and rely solely on social networks (Google searches and Facebook friends). Ultimately, networking is a simple necessity. Here’s how to make the most of it (and, who knows…) potentially millions.
Hide your (or better yet, have no) hidden agenda
Most professionals network. So, it’s not surprising that before two sentences are exchanged, so are business cards. Even still, sometimes it’s polite to pretend. Pretend you have no alternative motive for meeting another attorney.
Potential clients, particularly, know when they’re walking around with a giant target on their back. The strategy for getting their attention and then their business is up to you. But, if you’re simply genuine and grateful for meeting their acquaintance, they’ll probably remember your nonchalance more than your nine-minute elevator pitch about your practice areas.
Other attorneys, especially firm partners, can see a young out-of-work associate foaming at the mouth a mile away. Instead of shaking hands for the sake of it, try to attend a meet and greet without motive. An overly aggressive attorney is about as desirable in the office as a cat in the hen house.
Hide the fact that you’re networking, and you will find you network more successfully.
Lower your expectations.
So, you have no hidden intentions. Great. Now what?
If you lower your expectations for the evening, you might actually enjoy it. Furthermore, your friends and acquaintances, over time, soon become colleagues and clients—organically. Brian Tannebaum for Above The Law Blog, explains why he currently attends his monthly “lawyers” group meetings:
“Although I became bored and dissatisfied and left for three years after a seven-year stint, I returned to the group which now has 53 members, 13 being lawyers. In addition to a weekly meeting, the lawyers meet once a month for lunch. Why did I go back? I realized that while I was still attending events and developing relationships, I missed the structured networking. I had friends in that room that had done and would continue to do a lot for me, and being around them meant I could continue to expand my network.”
Give it time and find the right group, advices Tannebaum.
Say thank you
Roy S. Ginsburg, author at Attorney At Work, reminds us how to say “thank you” to stand out of a crowd:
“In a networking situation, the email should be very brief: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.” The follow-up note should repeat this statement, tell the person why you appreciated his or her time, andremind them you are willing to help them as well. Networking, after all, is about mutual assistance.”
Treat everyone equally
This rule is simple. You never know. If networking is about assistance, then accept help where help is offered. And, it can come from anybody, so treat your new acquaintances equally—regardless of his firm’s reputation, individual practice area, or general demeanor.
Finally, networking is a verb. It continues. Don’t stop.
Networking is about the long-term, so keep at it. The worst way to network is to not network at all.