September 25, 2012 by williamsjustliving
I’m an introvert….have I mentioned that? Many people assume that most lawyers are extroverts. Actually, I think that many lawyers are introverts. Extroverts and introverts differ in the way they process thoughts. Extroverts often process their thoughts and emotions aloud, and therefore being around people facilitates reflection. Introverts usually process their thoughts and emotions internally, and therefore being around people is not particularly helpful in the reflection process. To be sure, the preceding information is heavily synthesized and paraphrased.
The bottom line is that being an attorney requires one to network: going to meet-n-greets, going to happy hours, going to conferences, meeting new people, talking about one’s career as a lawyer, and so forth. To me, that sounds tiring. I’ve done that in the past and it was tiring. I’d like to think that’s because I’m an introvert and I was “doing” networking incorrectly. Here’s a preliminary networking plan that may help other introvert lawyers and law students (because, as you know, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail….).
1. I need to start out the event/meeting with a goal in mind–but not an overly focused goal. I’m extremely goal-oriented…to the point sometimes that I can lose sight of the path to achieving a goal. For example, is this a casual event where I should be looking for new acquaintances or is this a high power function where I should be handing out business cards? Should my conversation be geared more toward my personal interests or toward my professional interests?
2. I will have an arrival and a departure time in mind. Just because the event goes from 5pm to 10pm does not mean that I need to stay that whole time.
3. Regardless of my initial plan, I WILL talk about what I WANT to talk about. If there is a lady at the event with awesome make-up, I will strike up a conversation with her about make-up if I want to. If I see someone wandering around with a Phi Beta Kappa pin, I will ask about it if I want to.
4. If I get bored, I will leave. I am not at my best if I am bored. I’m grumpy and grizzly. Bored=cut my losses and hold out for the next event.
5. If I find one person that I really connect with, there is nothing wrong with talking to that one person for an extended period of time. Networking is about building relationships, and leaving an event feeling like I connected with one person is worth more than having handed out business cards to 15 people.
6. Don’t be nervous about asking for someone else’s business card or contact information. I always carry my business card, but handing out my business card is not quite as valuable to me as getting someone else’s business card or contact information.
7. Follow-up the next day with an e-mail.
That’s the networking work-out plan. Now, I just have to follow it.