When coaching or speaking to lawyers about the importance of networking, the knee-jerk reaction of many is “you gotta be kidding me; I would rather take the bar exam again than network!” I was recently reminded of this mentality when one of my clients commented to me after two months of aggressively networking for a job, “it really doesn’t suck like I thought it would.”
Why the change? Simply a misperception of what networking is and is not.
Many attorneys assume that networking is outside of their comfort zone. They equate it with handing out business cards at receptions or cold calling complete strangers. I would not feel comfortable doing that and do not expect my clients to either. But when I think of networking as developing relationships with people with I already know and want to know better, perhaps over coffee or lunch—hey, I can do that.
Is a one-on-one interaction over cup of coffee outside of your comfort zone? I have coached well over one hundred lawyers nationwide who practice at firms of all sizes. Rarely have I worked with someone completely lacking in social skills that cannot carry on a pleasant conversation in such a setting. You do not need an extroverted personality to be successful at networking. What you need is patience and persistence. Then, your networking efforts will lead to the job or clients that you want. It’s a numbers game—and don’t let anybody tell you differently.
Besides, are you sure you want to take the bar exam again?
(illustration: Steven Laurie)