Networking is a difficult task for many people. Meeting strangers who have similar interests and careers as you appears to be easy because you are alike in many ways. However, people still find it challenging trying to make a connection with other people. The best way to make sure you start off on the right networking foot is to make a good introduction. First impressions are very important, and can make interacting with others very easy afterwards. But do you know the do’s and don’ts of an introduction?
For one, don’t be the “limp fish” handshaker. Shaking someone’s hand in a weak or limp manner can give them a negative impression of you right away. Always shake a person’s hand in a firm, non-hand-crushing way, even if you are a woman.
Don’t be a name dropper. Don’t be “so-and-so” who works for “big-law-firm-partner”. This is not a good way to introduce yourself because the person might not remember your name if you mention someone more well-known. This defeats the purpose of networking. You want the person to remember who you are, not who you work for.
Don’t be the business card monster. Using a business card as an introduction along with your handshake never looks good. In addition, don’t hand the person 2 business cards for “referral purposes”. Save and hand your business cards to people you make a connection with, or your business card may be connecting with a trash can sooner than you expect.
Be a good listener. Also, don’t be the rambler at a networking event. Some people get too excited about what they are passionate for, or things going on in their lives, and forget to let the other people or person talk. Make sure the dialogue between you and others is moving back and forth, and not one sided. In addition, ask questions about something they said; it shows that you were listening and truly intrigued.
Along with being a rambler, don’t be the TMI networker. Avoid conversations that are on the personal level. For example, don’t talk about how you and your spouse met, child milestones, problems in the dating scene, and anything that could be saved for close friends. These conversations can be saved for a later time.
In addition, don’t be the cannonball attorney. A cannonball is a person who barrels into a conversation or situation without being invited or acknowledged first. If you see a group of people talking and you would like to join them, wait until they have acknowledged you, introduce yourself, and then participate as a good listener and member.
Finally, put your phone away. Keep it in your purse or pocket during networking events. Having your phone in your hand and scrolling away can give people the impression that you are unapproachable. How can you fully network if you look unapproachable? It’s okay to have your phone out occasionally, but for the majority of your time, keep it on silent and away from your eyes. The texts and emails can wait.
Networking is a difficult task for many people, but it slowly gets easier with time and experience. Continue to take note of what works best for you when at a legal networking event. A majority of networking connections are built from the conversations you have with others. But to sustain a connection, they must know and remember who you are. Overall, have confidence and open up to different people of various backgrounds; you never know how they may help your legal career in the future.