How-to guide for effective networking

05 Jul 2016
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Networking is a key part of being a solicitor. There is an expectation for solicitors to develop business, and while there are lots of strategies for business development, networking is one of the best. Here’s our how-to guide to networking effectively.

Be prepared

Before you attend at event, see if you can get your hands on an attendee list. If you know who’s going to be there you can do some research in advance on the best people to introduce yourself to.

Walking into a room of strangers, who are all talking to each other already, can be daunting. Having prepared exactly what you would say if someone started talking to you, or how you would introduce yourself to someone, is smart, especially if you don’t have confidence in these situations yet. The classic question you’ll want to have an answer to is, “So what do you do?” Have a statement that’s clear, succinct, and make it interesting! You want people to be intrigued to know more.

Don’t push it

Yes, networking events are about business development, but that doesn’t mean that forcing business cards into the hands of people you’ve just met and giving them a sales pitch is appropriate. Once you’ve been introduced, ask questions and focus on rapport, not sales. It’s called business development for good reason.

Do the rounds

It’s easy to get sucked into conversations at networking events and then feel uncomfortable about removing yourself from them. To make the most out of the time you have, you want to make quality introductions, but you also want to speak to more than just a couple of contacts. If you want to get away to do the rounds, politely say, “It’s been a pleasure to meet you, I best go say hello to a few other people before the end of the day.”

Listen out for opportunities

Making a name for yourself as a connector that helps others can only be a good thing. If you think one contact would benefit from a conversation with another contact, introduce them! You’ll be remembered for it.

Get contact details

If you meet a person worth speaking to further, make sure you get their contact details before you leave. This is typically done with a business card exchange. That being said, always remember to take business cards!

Follow up

Probably the most crucial part of networking. If you meet a great contact and never follow up with them, the introduction was almost pointless. You shouldn’t expect them to follow up with you, and you shouldn’t take their absence of contact as a sign that business is off the table. Keep your communications brief and polite. Again, this is about relationship building, not jumping straight to a sales pitch. Make sure your follow up is prompt - don’t leave it for weeks before reaching out.

Your contact will have met many other people in the meantime.