A wallflower is someone with an introverted personality type (or in more extreme cases, social anxiety) who will attend parties and social gatherings but will usually distance themselves from the crowd and actively avoid being in the limelight. This could be due to anxiety, shyness, lack of social skills or self-esteem.
While being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of, this characteristic can sometimes make it difficult to network in a coworking or shared space. This is because your initial instinct is to go into the office and dive deep into work until it’s time to leave for the day. As a solo attorney, this is doing your practice a disservice because it could stunt your growth and hinder your opportunity for collaboration.
Everyday in a coworking environment is an opportunity to mingle and become a beneficial part of the community. Coworking is essential because it helps build you up as an entrepreneur, which, in retrospect, is what you are as a solo attorney. Having the mentality that your “door is always open,” will benefit you more than you’ll ever know.
Here are five useful tips on how to network with people within a coworking space:
1. Attend Community Events
Most coworking organizations host events for the in-house and virtual office members, which provide a guarantee for establishing connections and networking with fellow entrepreneurs. As networking events will be hosted a few paces from your desk, it is almost impossible for you to miss out on discovering new networking opportunities. Save the dates of each event and try to attend each one as it becomes easier over time as you go and start to recognize the common attendees.
2. Try Hosting Your Own Event
Hosting your own networking event is a great idea, even if you have been attending all of the regularly hosted events put on by your coworking space. Some offices will event help their members to organize their functions. Some examples of events you can host are exhibits, “lunch and learn” where you teach other members about a legal topic that could be helpful, and parties/happy hours.
This will rapidly increase the size of your network because you will essentially know every single person there! Be sure to ask the community manager of the space for help and promotion within the space and watch the new contacts come rolling in.
3. Take Breaks in the Common Areas
It is easy to forgo lunch to put more time into the development of your firm, but building networks and adding new referral sources will also quickly grow your firm. An easy way to do this without having to carve large time chunks out of your schedule is to take your regularly scheduled breaks like lunch or tea and coffee breaks in the office common areas.
You will have a chance to meet your neighbors and interact with them while they are doing the same thing. A fruitful and profitable relationship may emerge from a chat with someone you shared your table with at lunch.
4. Don’t Forget About the Online Community
Use social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn to expand your network without having to stand in a room full of other solo lawyers or entrepreneurs. An email of introduction or direct message is a great way to break the ice and start networking with them.
Online interaction will help you expand your networking reaches to those who have inconvenient working hours and to those who are often traveling for business.
But to take it one step further, social media and email are perfect tools for following up with people you have met at previous events. If you really want to reap the benefits of networking then following up digitally is an essential step of the process and must be worked into your strategy.
6. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!
Just because you’re going to new events and putting more effort into networking doesn’t mean you have to ignore your old contacts. In fact, you should do just the opposite! Build a referral network with people you have already met and interacted with in the past.
Getting reacquainted with these people helps in broadening your network and they will appreciate that you thought of them and introduced them to your other peers.
Considering every opportunity to network with coworkers in a shared law office space is essential for the continued development and overall growth of your practice. Hence every opportunity you get to meet new contacts should be taken with enthusiasm and excitement!