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LegalJob is pleased to introduce our guest blogger Katie White, Career Consultant and Networking Coach, The George Washington University Law School.

 

Question: I am basically a shy person, so networking does not come naturally to me.  What do you advise?

 

Answer:  A large percentage of lawyers are uncomfortable with networking, and might classify themselves as “introverts.”  However, they have been able to learn to tackle networking and to make it work for them.  Here are some ideas for coming out of your shell:

Join an organization

As you have read in this blog, a great way to meet lawyers is to join a bar association.  The good news is that the meetings these groups hold often have agendas, and are not merely open networking receptions.  Find a way to talk to people at the meetings.  If there is seating, talk to the person sitting next to you.  Talk to people while you are waiting in line to get name tags.  Talk to people standing next to you waiting for the program to begin, or in the food or drink line.  The more meetings you attend, the more comfortable you will become, and the more people you will meet.

Follow up with people you have met, and arrange for face to face meetings over coffee or lunch

Set a goal of reaching out to your friends and colleagues and friends of friends to build your network one person at a time.  When you meet, be prepared to ask a lot of questions, solicit advice about your career, find out what is going on at their company or law firm, and see if they can refer you to at least one new person who might be a useful contact for you.

Email is your friend!

As an introvert, you may prefer to email people instead of talking on the phone.  This is a great way to make the initial contacts with the people you want to meet.  But ultimately you are going to want to meet face to face, to get to know them.

Manage your contacts:

  • Note the date of your meeting, the event name, and a note about what you talked to this contact about on each business card you receive. 
  • Send an email to the people you would like to keep in touch with the day after the event.
  • File business cards in a file box, or enter the information into a spreadsheet or an address book database on your computer. 
  • Schedule a time each week to go through the cards of the people you have met, and decide who to follow up with, and how you will do so.   
  • Prioritize your contacts, and determine which people you want to follow up with first.  Who can be the most useful to you in your job search, or as a future contact for business?
  • Reach out to the people you most want to meet to set up a time for an informational interview.
  • Follow Up – After you meet with a contact, make a note on your spreadsheet about following up and what you talked about.  Act on the advice they gave you about who else to contact and other actions.
  • Be sure to send a thank you note (email is fine) to the people who have helped you.
  • Finally, don’t be discouraged if you reach out to a contact and they don’t respond.  Keep trying to reach them, and if it doesn’t work out, move on.  Not everyone will be responsive or available to help you.  But this will work if you keep at it.  Persevere!  Good luck!!
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