Here are my thoughts about making the most out of networking events (law-related or really any function):
- If there is a dinner following the cocktail hour, do not stay for it. It is generally difficult to have a decent conversation with people even if you do get a “good” table because the people are focused on the main event (awards, speeches, lecture, etc.) and not on what you are “selling.” If you get stuck a “bad” table, you will waste two hours of your life that you cannot get back and you will leave frustrated.
- Instead, save your energy and smooth lines for the cocktail hour.
- Come early so you can survey the place. Determine the location of the bar, the bathroom, etc.
- Survey the bar offerings to find a drink that you can finish quickly if you need an excuse to escape from a conversation that is not productive. When ready to move on, you can explain that you are getting a drink and look forward to connecting up with them later.
- It may be best to avoid alcoholic drinks so you can stay sharp. However, you may want one to loosen up before you start to work the crowd.
- Try saying “nice to see you” as opposed to “nice to meet you” on the off chance you met the person before.
- Have your two minute speech rehearsed and ready but wait for a question or two before launching in to your story.
- Until then listen attentively and ask some questions to confirm your interest and keep you focused.
- Exchange business cards and keep a pen with you at all times.
- As soon as you walk away from the person write three things you learned about them — perhaps a physical characteristic, a personal fact i.e., went to Syracuse), and a fact about their law speciality.
- Follow up with the person by e-mail initially within two days of meeting them. See if you can do something to help the person first before asking anything of them (i.e., send them an article of interest, connect them with a fellow Syracuse grad. etc.).
- Go through contacts monthly to determine whether it makes sense to follow-up with people you met again. If not worth following up, you probably should delete that person from your contact list.
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