Attorneys in Transition: Use the buddy system when you go networking

Nick Augustine is the principal of Chicago’s Augustine Legal Public Relations and he works for the Bryan Law Group, a full service boutique family practice in DuPage County. Nick teaches law firms and their staff how to get more clients as he helps attorneys share their knowledge, skills and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

There are several reasons to use the buddy system when you go networking. Some people do not like networking events where they are not going to know many people. Attending events with a colleague offers the opportunity to chat with your friend and compare notes. You will also be able to laugh and engage in conversation with someone you know. Another benefit is that people you meet are more likely to remember two or more people from an office whom they meet as a team.

When I first started networking, I attended events my boss suggested I attend. At first, I was nervous because I might not know anybody and would not know what to share to represent my office. It is always easier to attend an event with someone else from your office. Networking in pairs helps reduce anxiety.

If you travel to the event with a friend or colleague, you can chat about the people you met on the way home or afterward. At a few points, you might split apart, work the room and meet a few different people you can share. If someone impresses you both, it makes sense to schedule a follow up call or coffee meeting. Think of the networking as a screening for new people with whom you would like to get to know.

Don’t you hate awkward silence? If you attend an event with a friend then you can always shift to work chatter or the weather so you are not stuck in a corner not having anything worthwhile to say to the salesperson who keeps talking about nothing in particular. In addition, when you are engaged in friendly conversation you look more approachable to others. Just make sure not to exclude others. 

While I don’t have the research or data to support my claim, it makes sense that peoples’ brains work a little harder to save the memory of two people, where they work and what they do. The process of splitting and storing information puts more attention on you. Be part of the friendly team of lawyers from that midsizedplaintiffs’ firm and the people you met will remember particular traits about you and are more likely to remember you later.

Remember, if you come home with a huge stack of business cards you are doing it wrong. Only give out cards to people who will remember you later and only collect cards from people you actually want to remember. Networking and referral building are function of quality, not necessarily quantity.

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