Face to Face Networking--You Need It
“Are you ready?” Dick asked sister Sally. “I have to be there early to help set up.”
Sally sighed, “I’ve been talking all day. I don’t have any words left.”
“You’ll be fine. You like these events and you said you want to meet the new probate Judge,” said Dick as they walked out together on their way to their bar association networking event.
Dick was right. Sally was the type who enjoyed their face to face networking efforts while Dick was more comfortable when he had a task to perform. Both, however, realize the importance of attending networking opportunities.
Why You Need to Network In-person.
Lawyers, like the majority of humanity, are social beings. That means despite all your Internet social networking efforts, you need to get out of your office and go out into the world.
Meeting people face to face, sharing experiences, ideas and interests is a valuable opportunity to keep your name and practice a step ahead. Meeting in person lets your online acquaintances put a face and personality to the name they see on the blog or e-mail or website and helps build trust while creating a positive rapport for future discussions.
Your reasons for attending an event will vary with the type of audience. Dick and Sally are attending a bar association event. As Elder Law practitioners, they receive a number of referrals from other attorneys and make referrals to lawyers in other areas of practice. Thus, their goal is to renew old acquaintances and meet new members. If they were attending a community event, they would want to meet new people and find a way to assist the group.
How to succeed.
Once you’ve decided why you’re attending this particular event, here’s how to make the most of your time:
• Pinpoint your networking goal,
• Discover who will be there, decide who you want to meet and ask yourself what you want to know about them,
• Have a 10 second introduction ready. People want to know both your name and area of practice, and
Think about what you have to give to others.
Now you’re at the event, it’s the cocktail hour, everyone is milling around. Some of you are naturals at these events—you can schmooze with the best of them. Others need help. People like to talk about themselves so a few questions can get the conversation going.
1. How long have you been a member of this organization?
2. What keeps you busy outside of your practice?
3. What got you interested in ________________?
4. I read your book, blog, article …,
5. I just saw on LinkedIn that we went to the same college.
Don’t monopolize the conversation and leave gracefully. Introduce the person to a new arrival if known or simply comment on how much you’ve enjoyed talking with them and excuse yourself. Then move on.
You aren’t done simply because the event is over. If you promised a follow-up, do it within a week of the event or you will lose credibility that you can never get back.
A healthy network is made up of contacts from all parts of your life. Face to face networking added to your Internet campaign will help your practice grow.