Many lawyers think networking events are a waste of time because they rarely meet new clients there. One possible reason why these lawyers have trouble is that they approach these events with the misguided goals of trying to sell themselves and obtain client leads. They emphasize what they do and how valuable they are. They may ask about others but they are primarily self-oriented and most of their time is spent talking.

On the other hand, lawyers who actually enjoy networking events use a very different approach. They are genuinely interested in serving others and, often unintentionally, that is how they establish their value. They demonstrate this interest by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions. Their mission is to understand what the other person is trying to accomplish and what might be preventing them from doing so.

These folks become an expert in others by understanding what others most want. Then, they help them in any way they can. Their help could come in the form of connecting with them with others, providing them insight that gets them to think about things in a different way, or providing legal services.   They don’t start the conversation with what they do and only address the issue if asked. Even at that point, they keep the focus on themselves brief and to the point by describing the major problems they solve, and for whom.

So, for best results approach the next networking event with these four keys in mind:

  • Ask open-ended questions to understand the goals (including plans from getting from where they are to where they ultimately want to be), challenges, and priorities of others.
  • Listen for a majority of the time.
  • Consider ways to be helpful
    1. Asking thoughtful questions (e.g., what would make this event a success for you)
    2. Giving them your undivided attention
    3. Connecting them to helpful people
    4. Performing legal services
  • If asked, describe what you do succinctly and clearly by explaining
    1. Who you help
    2. What their challenges are
    3. How you solve them

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