LegalJob recently provided advice to folks planning on attending a legal networking event.
Here are some highlights:
Get the list of the attendees beforehand and zero in on two or three people with whom you are interested in connecting.
Research these people, and dig deep. The internet is just a good starting point. In your research, think about ways you can possibly be helpful to them.
Go early and leave early (or at least as soon as you have met the folks you targeted). There will be less people there early so starting a conversation may be more natural. Also, people including you will get tired of the event one hour in so leave before you burn out.
Stand by the food but do not eat or drink. You want to stay focused, have hands free, and have an out if you need to move to the next person.
Ask questions including “what would make attending this event a huge win for you” and listen actively to responses.
Bring cards but your goal should be to collect cards not give them.
If you have a good conversation, ask for the card, and then write two things down about the person you met on the back of their card.
Follow up with a note referencing something you talked about; perhaps you can help them with what they needed. At a minimum, ask if you can keep them posted of your progress.