Use these tips to help ease the nerves and get the most out of lawyer networking events.
For most solo lawyers, networking and is the largest and quickest source of new business.
The problem is that these interactions often require starting in large social engagements, which can be a challenge for introverts or people who don’t thrive in crowded environments.
Maybe you envy people who can work a room with ease. Those people who have quick lines or funny anecdotes at the tip of their tongue.
It’s a difficult skill to master. And as a result, networking events are often missed opportunities for some lawyers to rapidly expand their firm’s.
One way to help improve your networking skills involves just one simple strategy: Planning.
Like any other business endeavor, having a plan is just as critical for networking as it is for starting a firm or going into a consultation. So if networking makes you anxious, then these tips are for you!
Killer Conversation Starters
Maybe one of the most helpful tips was going armed with 5 killer conversation starters. These are questions you can use to break the ice with a stranger that not only starts a conversation, but makes you more memorable.
Killer conversation starters go beyond “so, what do you do”, especially if we haven’t built any rapport.
Here are three great lines that everyone should have in their arsenal:
- What personal passion project are you working on right now?
- What’s your story?
- Working on anything exciting lately?
What’s brilliant about these conversation starters is that they get the other person talking about something they are passionate about, which might not be about work, but leaves the door open for a conversation about work if they’re not comfortable sharing personal information.
Plan in Advance
Just like with studying, when you are prepared and plan ahead, you feel less anxious and more confident when it comes time to take the test. The same goes for networking events. Remind yourself why you are going to the event and prepare in advance.
For example, research on who will or might be at the event. If the event is organized with a Facebook event, you can see who else RSVP’d and plans to attend. Or you can email the organizer of the event to learn more about who is coming and can then prepare appropriately.
This will also help you spend less time at the event. If you know who want to talk to or meet, then once you have had those conversations and exchanged contact info, then you can leave. Job well done!
For those who get anxious when it comes to networking, being in crowds can sometimes feel like a battle, so I find having a plan and an outcome in mind helps to make the situation approachable and tameable.
Know What You Want
If you want people to send high quality and ideal clients to you then you need to be upfront and tenacious in letting people know what your ideal client looks like.
If you beat around the bush and don’t know what kind of referral you want then you are wasting your time and theirs. Plus this also encourages your new referral sources to share their ideal clients with you, building a stranger and more mutually beneficial relationship.
Food and Drink
Its quick simple but a big tip is to hold drinks in your left hand. This way your right hand is ready for shaking. Nothing turns a situation uncomfortable faster than a cold, wet handshake. And as for the food… try to avoid it. I know you may be hungry and find comfort in eating, but fight the urge to eat the snacks while you network. Having spinach in your teeth and onion breath is not something you want to be remembered for.
Add a Little Tilt
According to Van Edwards, tilting your head slightly when speaking with others is the universal body language sign for “I’m listening. You come across as more charismatic because it shows someone that you are paying attention.
The result is a better connection with that person, which can be challenging at networking events.
This is a very easy and natural technique to implement.