Schmoozing is an art, and in this challenging job market, attorneys and law students have no choice but to master it.
Here you can find some practical networking tips ranging from breaking the ice, preparation and appearance, to connecting. Below are some of the key takeaways.
1. Have a goal: Before you get to the event, ask yourself, “why am I going?” Come up with two outcomes you hope to get out of the event—say, meeting three new people or getting one new job lead. (Or, if you’re going to reconnect with friends, that’s fine, too!) Knowing ahead of time what you’re hoping to accomplish will help you stay focused—not aimlessly wandering around.
2. Dress to Impress: When you’re planning your outfit, pick something professional—you won’t make an impression (at least, not a good one) if you look dishevelled, disorganized, or overly casual. But also pick something that makes you feel good—a great dress or those new shoes you’ve been wanting to wear will help you exude confidence in what can be an uncomfortable setting.
3. Bring Business Cards: This one seems basic, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen forget their cards or say “I just gave away my last one!” Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need, and keep a stack of them in a card case. This way, they won’t get dirty or crumpled in your purse, and you can grab them quickly—it’s much more professional to pull your card out of a case then go searching your bag. Also you can have a notebook handy so that you can take notes if needed, and listen attentively.
4. Do your research: While you certainly don’t need to look up every single social-media site a person posts on before heading into a networking meeting, take time to look someone up on LinkedIn, read through their profile and look for mutual interests. Don’t be afraid to do some Google searching, either.
5. Practice your elevator pitch: “Tell me about yourself” is one of the most common networking conversation prompts, so having a good answer is crucial. Thinking about the ‘why’ behind why you’re pursuing the career you’re in. Purpose is universal, and it’s a great way to authentically connect.
6. Consider how you can help them: One of the biggest mistakes young professionals make is that networking meetings should be all about them. In reality, the complete opposite is true. People want professional relationships that benefit them, too, and the more that you show you’re willing to go out on a limb, the more room there is for any professional relationship to grow. “While you never need to overextend yourself, always keep your ears open for an opportunity to be of service,” says Stahl.
1. Manage expectations:If networking events make you nervous, don’t psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations. You may not meet 20 new contacts or impress others with your best joke — and that’s okay. One quality conversation is more beneficial than 20 superficial ones.
2. Prepare: Plan ahead and prepare some icebreakers. Open-ended questions spur interesting conversations. Most people love to talk about themselves, their work and their hobbies. Ask questions like, “How long have you been a member of the host organization?” or “What’s your favourite part of your job?”
3. Share your personal stories: Challenge yourself to open up. If you ask consecutive questions without sharing information about yourself, it can start to feel like an interrogation. Participating in the conversation will help it to flow more naturally.
4. Take small steps. With increased practice, you’ll become more comfortable in social situations and with sharing your true personality. Make it a habit to take advantage of everyday opportunities to network. At the office, take small breaks to walk around and casually socialize with your colleagues. Once a week, invite a colleague to join you for lunch or coffee.
1. YOU Don’t need to try to meet everyone: You don’t need to look (or be) schizophrenic. Decide to strike up 3-5 quality conversations over the course of a 2-hour event, if you have that much time. Offer your card and ask them for theirs and ask about what they do instead of going straight into your elevator pitch. Give the other person a chance to talk first. Then, they will feel more comfortable and will want to reciprocate by listening to what you do or what you are looking for when they finish.
2. Pick the people who seem interesting to you: It’s easier to complete tasks that you are interested in. The same goes for this business networking tip. Talking with someone who seems interesting and open is easier than striking up a conversation with someone who seems disinterested. The people you want to talk to are engaged with others and give off a warm presence.
3. Start small: Most introverts prefer one-on-one conversations to group interaction. However, it may not be possible to have one-on-ones throughout the whole event, especially at a large networking conference. Talk to small groups of people at a time to avoid being overwhelmed.
4. Listen and empathize: Introverts are great listeners, use this skill to your advantage. Listening allows you to ask better, more thoughtful follow-up questions, which in turn makes it easier for you to connect with new people. If you can, try to empathize with the person or people you’re talking to. By putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to better contribute to the conversation.
1. Follow UP: A few days after the event, send follow-up emails to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalize each email, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning something that you talked about. This is also the time to suggest any follow-up.
2. Write notes: After you meet someone, record your impressions and facts about the person on his or her