Becoming a great networker is essential for any career path, including those pursuing law. Even senior-level lawyers use their networking skills as often as possible so they can maintain and continue to develop long-term relationships with clients and other lawyers. If you’re just starting a career in law, networking is vital for you to succeed. Here are a few steps you can take towards becoming a great networker:
First, recognize the overall, larger benefits associated with networking – building relationships. Networking is not just about finding somebody that can give you a job or that can represent your business. Business happens through establishing strong relationships over time, and these relationships are the most important part of networking.
Next, stop checking your phone every five seconds. You’ll never know who you can meet on any given day; and if you’re on your phone, chances are that you will not talk to anyone behind you on line to get a coffee (and they’ll probably think you’re too busy to approach). According to an article published on Findlaw.com, staying away from your “crackberry” is essential when it comes to networking:
“Your next big client engagement in not going to come in the form of an email while you are waiting for your coffee. The barista’s mother could be the President of a bank. Talk to her and others around you. Networking is about an attitude of engagement not going to a networking event. You network everyday, not once a week,” (Networking Tips for Lawyers).
Though the digital age we are living in can have many positive effects on our careers and the way we conduct business, many people are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face with others. Do not be one of them.
Speaking of the digital age, utilize the tools that are readily available to enhance and grow your network. Take LinkedIn for example, one of the most prominent social media platforms for professionals. LinkedIn will help improve your SEO and the way you present yourself online – so make sure your profile is completed in detail and that you have an appropriate photo of yourself so that others can recognize you. We should use technology to our advantage when it comes to networking, not so that it destroys our abilities to interact with others.
Lastly, understand that networking takes time and dedication. If you sign up for a networking event, make sure you do your homework and research companies and leaders who will be there that can help make a difference in your career. Don’t expect to just show up and suddenly be connected with fifteen new people in your field. Get to the event early, look the role, and be friendly to everyone you talk to so that you can grow your network. Remember, networking is not about socializing, so don’t show up to a networking event with your friends. Be bold. And always bring your business cards.