Honestly, most people feel the same way about networking - some just stay in better practice with it and have learned some tricks/tips along the way so you'd never guess they have similar anxieties. If you think the goal is to get a client, your anxiety will skyrocket. Hint: the goal is to make a friend. If you could just get started on the right foot - especially if you're an introvert - then you'll eventually develop strong relationships, stay top of mind to key referral sources and begin appreciating the time you give to networking.
Networking Tips for Lawyers
- Remember all eyes aren't on you. It's common for people to look at you when you look at them, but then most people are only concerned about themselves. They will look away when you do, unless you encourage the contact.
- Keep this in mind and just scan the entire room, finding friendly faces who nod or smile. These are the folks to introduce yourself to and then engage them in conversation.
- Start conversations with "What brought you here today?" It's a safe opener that doesn't force conversation on business, perhaps help the individual say things like, "well my boss told me to come here" or "a friend invited me".
- Drink water vs. caffeine. This keeps you hydrated, keeps your voice from cracking and your mouth from going dry - symptom of caffeine. If you feel at all anxious, avoid caffeine.
- Adjust to a quiet space. Otherwise you will be forced to compete with the noise around you, and that puts added pressure on an already anxiety-ridden activity.
- Leave once you've met your goal. Which means, set a goal. The Certified Networker program and ConnextNation suggest you specify a measureable goal for each networking event. Mine is, I ask for and receive 3 business cards from people I'd like to follow up with. Maybe I just connected well with them, like their energy, or they seem to be a useful business relationship to follow up with. If they are interested in my services, that's an added bonus!