Attorneys rely on a number of professional skills – and one of them is making valuable contacts. From obtaining a second opinion on a sticky legal issue to calling in expert witnesses, attorneys rely on their networks, whether they’re currently working in their dream position or are still searching for the right professional fit.
Consequently, attorneys rely on their networking skills. Here are five networking mistakes no legal professional can afford to make:
- Talking only to people you already know.
At networking and professional events, it’s easy to gravitate toward people you already know, exchange pleasantries, and then stay put. But talking to people you already know does nothing to expand your network. Instead, reach out. Be honest, even if that means admitting you’ve never attended a similar event before and aren’t sure what to do. If the event contains a mix of people you know and people you haven’t met, make it your goal to meet at least one new person whom you want to introduce to someone you know – and then do so.
- Letting shyness win.
“Fake it till you make it” may not be great advice when representing a client, but it can be a fantastic way to break the ice in a networking setting. Even if you don’t feel confident, act confident: stand calmly, taking in the sights and people at your own pace, in order to seem more approachable. Try reaching out to someone who looks even more awkward than you feel; there is strength in numbers.
- Failing to return the favor.
Networking works because we all have connections. By making the acquaintance of one new person, you can hope to “tap in” to that person’s entire network – and that person is hoping for the same thing from you. Don’t let them down: pass on connections and referrals to people you meet at networking events, as well as accepting connections and referrals from them.
- Collecting without connecting.
Many attorneys approach networking opportunities with the goal of collecting as many business cards as possible, only to end up with a pile of “connections” whose faces or specialties they can’t even recall. Don’t fall into this trap. First, talk to people to establish connections, and then ask for a business card only if you believe you’ll remember them and want to follow up. Give your own cards away carefully, to people with whom you’ve built a rapport.
- Maintaining radio silence.
Only half of successful networking is meeting new people. The other half involves following up with your new contacts to share information and improve the relationship. Whether you choose to follow up with a phone call, a quick email, or a written note, take the time to connect after the event to share a helpful resource, the name of a promising connection, or just a bit of news.
At Assigned Counsel, our experienced recruiters connect top legal talent with employers who can put these superstars’ skills to good use. Contact us today to learn more.