You check your watch. OK, 10 minutes early. Nobody wants to be late for an important event like this. Setting straight your tie one last time, you step into the hall. To your surprise, several people have already gathered. Some are casually chatting, while others seem immersed in serious talk.
The moment you reach for a glass of champagne, somebody chortles loudly. Everyone can tell that his laughter sounds so fake – trying to get on the good side of the person he’s talking to.
A wave of cold sweat sweeps the back of your neck. You swig down the champagne with a single gulp. What the hell. So many important people but so little time.
What to Do?
As an attorney, the only way to truly enjoy a networking event is to be keen on building friendships and connections instead of trying to advance your career. Easier said than done.
With all the pressure to find your next big client or get your firm out there, it’ll be hard to stay focused. Minus points too if you’re bad with crowds.
So, how can you make the most out of these networking events?
Nations don’t go to war without military preparations. Likewise, you shouldn’t attend a networking event without a plan. So, how to get ready?
- Set your goals. It would be best to have a purpose for appearing at the event. Do you want to meet a specific person? Want to have dinner together with an influential circle? Whatever it is, try to achieve it by the end of the party.
- Prepare openers and ice-break greetings. People can get awkward or, worse, stand-offish during occasions. Most of the time, it’ll be hard to initiate a conversation. Rehearse your approach in front of the mirror. Make sure you sound natural and presentable.
- Arm yourself. No, not with a gun. Arming means bring lots of business cards! Don’t forget to write notes on the back of each one.
During the Event
Great. You’re now standing beside the chocolate fountain cake, and you have no idea what to do. Relax.
- Talk to different people. Come on. It’s a networking event, for crying out loud! Be confident. Expand your connections. Socialize. You won’t get anywhere talking to just one person (unless he’s the CEO of Microsoft or something).
- Keep it coming. When you’re chatting with somebody, it’s easy to run out of topics. We all hate that moment of dreadful silence. If this happens, you can ask questions even if it’s barely related to work. Ask them about their hobbies, favorite food, or contact information (Now, that’s work related *wink wink*).
- Eat with moderation. Never lose sight of your goal. Your primary motive is to expand your network, not your tummy. Besides, talking with food in your mouth can be a major turn-off.
So, the party’s over. What’s your next move? Hmmm. You’re lucky if you projected yourself well enough for your prospects to reach out to you. But, what if they don’t?
- Get in touch. If you got a prospect’s contact information, make use of it. Introduce yourself politely and tell them you had a great time.
- Stay connected. Message acquaintances that you’ve made every once in a while. That’s why they’re called connections — because you can connect to other prospects through them. Occasional greetings and catching ups are sufficient enough.
The Whole Point is…
Don’t be passive. Socializing is fundamental for any attorney at networking events. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minor cocktail party or a prestigious gala. You need to work on your interaction skills if you want your career one step up the ladder. Remember to stay confident and break the ice.