When I first moved to Phoenix in 2004, I didn’t have a job. Catherine Marsh, a woman who was a leader in the financial industry back when women leaders were a rare occurrence, told me that 85% of getting a job is who you know, not what you. This has been true in every profession I’ve encountered, especially when you’re the new guy.
Despite my adventurous attitude, I’m a fairly introverted person. I don’t like big crowds of people, especially when I hardly know anyone. The idea of going to networking events makes me groan. I much prefer to meet one-on-one with people or in small groups where our gathering has a purpose. I have, however, found a few ways to network that seem to work for me.
I prefer to avoid big dog-and-pony-show networking events. I prefer panel discussions and guest speaker events instead. I usually bring my laptop with me, and if there is someone I want to meet afterwards, I look them up on the internet. Most older lawyers don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account, but many of them have LinkedIn profiles. I’ll request to connect with them, while the event is going on and say how much I’m enjoying their talk. If they have a Twitter account, I’ll follow them. I tend to stay away from people I don’t know on Facebook until I have established a dialogue them unless they say, “Find me on Facebook.”
Last semester my school had an awesome panel of lawyers who are on the ABA’s Legal Rebels list. Since I am not a traditional law student, I was excited to see my fellow non-conformists. Sam Glover from The Lawyerist was particularly interesting to me. I remembering sitting in the audience thinking, “I need to meet this guy.” I hopped on Google and searched for him. By the time he was done describing what he does in his professional life, I was following him and his blog on Twitter and I had tweeted out how much I was enjoying his talk. I was so grateful to hear from someone who was making their law degree work for them in a way that complimented their personality.
While the other presenters were sharing their stories, I watched Sam tinker with his cell phone. I giddily hoped that he was checking his Twitter and saw that I was following him. After the event was over, a handful of people gathered around Sam. As I approached the group Sam looked at me and said, “You must be Ruth.” I was elated. Since then we’ve connected through this blog and Twitter. He’s been a great resource for me.
Targeted networking is a strategy that seems to work best for me. When I hear someone or hear about someone I want to meet, I look for ways to connect with them either online or in person. It’s much less stressful and often more successful than going to general networking events where I may not meet anyone who shares any of my interests in the legal profession. Most lawyers I’ve met are happy to help the neophytes coming down the pike, but usually I have to initiate the conversation.
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