Thursday, November 19, 2009

getting out

I talk a lot about networking. I thought some concrete examples might be helpful.

As HP toiled away for many years at BigLaw, I realize now that I overlooked the opportunities to be had by getting out of the office more -- say to attend bar events, CLE, etc. Even though we all have work, family, social and other obligations, we shouldn't overlook the benefits to leaving the office to interact with contacts and potential contacts.

Recently, I attended a continuing education program. It was just a few hours so did not take up the whole day, which was great. I showed up a little early. I sat down and the person next to me turned to me since he was sitting alone. We introduced ourselves. It turns out that he works at a very large, well-known company. During breaks in the program, we chatted briefly. At the end, I asked him for his card and offered to email him if I saw future programs like this one that might be helpful. I also reconnected with another contact that day and exchanged follow-up emails. A few weeks back, I attended an evening reception. I invited a client contact as a guest since our firm had extra tickets (this almost always happens). While there, I spoke to a number of people. I also, again, reconnected with a lawyer from another firm I have worked with before. A couple weeks later, another contact at that firm called me to see if I might be interested in a lateral move over. Coincidence? No....when I saw lawyer one at the reception, that put me in his mind and he passed on the follow up request to his colleague. My point here is that even though it may be inconvenient, or you think you don't have the time, make the time to get out -- especially when these events are minimal time investments, it's fairly easy to do. And then follow-up. I have sent new guy from continuing ed an email need to do this promptly.

Another item I have mentioned is getting involved in bar and other organizations. Some years back, I poo-pooed this as a waste of time and just hanging out with lawyer competitors. But it is really good for raising your profile, building your network, and being in touch with potential career opportunities. A partner in my firm speaks highly of an associate at another firm. Why? Because the associate co-chairs a subcommittee he's been on of a large bar organization. I've seen the associate on numerous panels. Why? Because of her outside committee work and the continued development of her expertise.

So, keep at it....find something you like and are interested in. For women, the women's bar events in your area can be great networking opportunities. For everyone, specialty bars exist for certain practice areas. There's also affinity bars for certain groups (e.g., Asian bar association). Pick something and get involved.