If you are like a lot of lawyers, you may not be completely comfortable in a networking environment. Some attorneys I know would rather go to the dentist than to an event full of strangers. Solution: Take a buddy along. Not for the purpose you might think – i.e. someone comfortable to talk with. Rather, you should spend very little time talking with your buddy.
The idea is that you “team up” to introduce each other (whether another lawyer, other professional, referral source, client, friend, whomever) to people you don’t know. My friend Miriam Lawrence at Automatic Referrals has a post about getting a “networking buddy.” It’s a good read, as she refers to advice she picked up from professional speaker and coach Patricia Fripp.
The scenario goes something like this:
- Your teammate is talking with someone and you walk up (or vice versa);
- He/she immediately turns and asks the person whether they know you, and proceeds to give you an introduction that highlights your many legal talents, as well as what a terrific person you are, etc. etc. (presumably there is a lot of truth in all this);
- Keeping in mind that one of your goals is to meet as many potential clients or referral sources as you can, one or both of you should move on to other people after a respectable period of time, and after asking for a business card so you can follow up later;
- Take turns repeating the process as many times as you can during the event.
If you look at it as a game rather than drudgery, networking can actually be fun. Remember, it is easier for someone else to sing your praises than for you to do so yourself.