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5 top tips for networking in the legal sector

14/08/2017
Posted by: Naomi Melling

Networking can play a major part in your career success and can open up new opportunities both for your firm and for your own career. Unfortunately not everyone is comfortable networking, but all lawyers will have to at least be competent if they want their skills to advance. You might be worried about what to say, or how to introduce yourself to new people, but, in reality, it’s relatively easy to become a pro with a little bit of extra practice. But what are our top tips for networking in the legal sector?

Seek guidance

Consider who you think is an impressive networker and could provide you with some key tips. This could be a family member or friend, colleague or even someone from your time at university or law school. Ask these people if they would mind talking to you and giving you a few tips on how to effectively form professional bonds. At the very least, they are likely to let you bounce some ideas off them which will enable you to sharpen and hone your skills.

Prepare your pitch

One of the most important parts of networking is your initial pitch - and first impressions count.  How will you introduce and describe yourself to people in an engaging yet concise way? Again, the best way to do this effectively is to get feedback from your network, ask them to listen to your pitch and offer constructive criticism if required. However, you should also be careful not to over-rehearse, nothing sounds less authentic than an overly polished introduction.

Set targets

If you’re attending an event with 500 delegates you don’t necessarily need to speak to every single one of them. Consider your reasons for actually attending the event. Are you looking for new commercial opportunities or are you perhaps lining up your potential next employer? Identify your key targets and set aside time to speak to them wherever possible. It’s far better to have five in-depth conversations with relevant stakeholders than 100 shorter meetings with anyone and everyone you can find.

Find common ground

The best networkers don’t just stick to the stuffier topics when networking. They recognise it’s about showing empathy and finding out more about the person that they’re talking to. And, after all, most lawyers like talking about themselves so finding common ground is of paramount importance. Whether that’s football, cycling, your children or anything else you can think of, it’s easier to build stronger relationships if you have some sort of shared interest.

Follow up

It’s all well and good meeting people at an event, but it means little if you don’t follow it up. If it helps, make a short note on business cards that you’re given to remind you about the individual and then follow up on any information you promised to send over the next day. This leads on to another key point, the importance of reciprocity. People are likely to feel much more inclined to help you if you can offer something that helps them. That means if you know a solution to a problem that someone you met was struggling with, send it to them. After all, they’re more likely to have good-feeling towards you for making their lives easier and are therefore more likely to help you out in whatever area you need it.

Networking in the legal sector isn’t straightforward and some professionals will find it much more difficult than others. However, by following our tips and being professional and as confident as possible – without going over the top – you’re likely to find that networking events go from being something to be scared of, to something you’ll never want to miss out on.

What are your top tips for networking in the legal sector?

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