Let’s face it, networking is hard! Between knowing where to meet people and saying the right thing, there are a million ways a good networking event can be lackluster or even downright bad. Unfortunately, networking is one job that is never done and finding new places to meet people, where they are clients, other attorneys, or just other professionals, can be difficult. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to expand your network and make a name for yourself.
LinkedIn: It’s the first place people think of when they think of online networking. LinkedIn is a great resource to use to find people in a specific field or location. The search function is easy and the new app update with your connections makes it easier to find common ground to reach out on. Now a days, almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile so finding old coworkers or bosses to connect with is simple.
Bar association: The bar association is the first place lawyers suggest networking. Bar associations are tasked with bringing together attorneys for the betterment of the profession. Here, our bar association has committees for almost every practice area and puts on tons of events. The bar association committee meetings are sparsely attended so going to even one meeting puts you on other attorney’s radar.
Non-legal groups: Frequently, lawyers tend to band together and with busy work schedules, it’s easy to forget to do outside activities. But, these activities can be a great place to meet new contacts. There are groups for almost every interest and the regulars of the group are usually happy to teach you the ropes. Activities like Junior League or intramural at your local YMCA put you in reach of other young adults in a fun, non-legal context and makes it easier to connect with others.
Volunteering: There’s no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone else. Volunteering is two-fold: you help others and yourself. Because there are so many volunteer opportunities in some many different areas, you’re bound to end up working with people who have a similar mindset to yourself. In my experience, volunteering is where you meet some of the most kind-hearted, genuine individuals that can become more than just networking acquaintances.
Social media: Aside from LinkedIn, social media is a great way to reach out to people. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest there are plenty of ways to network. Each of these networks (and all the others, too!) have different ways to start the networking process and of course, have pros and cons. By using social media, it incorporates who you are as a person along with who you are as a professional. In addition to local connections, you can find connections across the country, or even across the world, to exchange ideas and collaborate on issues.
Professional development organizations: Professional development organizations are groups that are dedicated to advancing the careers and lives of their members, usually a specific group of people. Many of these organizations are similar or the same as the ones you might find in law school. Groups like Christian Legal Society and National Association of Women Lawyers put on different events and webinars that give an inside look as how to be successful in your industry. Many members of groups such as these are experienced in their field and more than willing to share their knowledge.
When in doubt, reach out! How have you expanded your network?