This week I participated in a networking event at the University of Miami School of Law. They called it "Know-How to Network" and invited eight lawyers, a Judge and me to mingle with an intimate group of 20 students at a cocktail party designed to give the students an opportunity to experience a networking event first hand. After the cocktail hour we debriefed… giving the students feedback, insights and advice. There were lessons that even seasoned lawyers could benefit from:
1. Think in advance… have ideas for conversation ready to go. They could range from current events to hobbies not just about law.
2. Focus on only meeting 2-3 new people. You are not there to collect business cards. You are there to set the stage to build new relationships. Listen and be engaging!
3. Dress appropriately. Be memorable for the right reasons… not for spiked hair, a beard, cleavage, or too much make-up. This is a business development event… look like you mean business.
4. Keep eating AND drinking to a minimum. You don’t want to have a mouth full of food at the very moment the person you want to meet is walking in your direction. Booze… it goes without saying… keep your wits about you. This IS business.
5. Remember … this is an opportunity to reinforce your personal brand. What do you want to be known for? A confident person who looks people in the eye, a handshake that says "I am glad to met you", a person who genuinely listens and a conversationalist that is interesting.
Keeping these 5 simple strategies in mind the next time you are invited to a networking event will make your job much easier and maybe even FUN. Now, wouldn’t that be nice.