Networking Tips from a Lawyer Coach

Taking a cue from Melissa H. at Paralegalese I’ve posted a couple of times on networking. Now the ABA Journal has a post entitled, “Reluctant to Network? Try These Tips and ‘Starter Questions’ “ by Debra Cassens Weiss that includes this advice which also applies nicely to paralegals:

Lawyers who are reluctant to network often voice fears that they don’t know how to make conversation, or that the conversations they join are shallow and boring.

Lawyer coach Debra Bruce says lawyers will find it easier to break the ice if they come equipped with starter questions to get the conversation rolling. Writing in the Legal Intelligencer, she lists several examples…

Lawyers don’t need a snappy comeback or brilliant insights during these conversations. But it is important to listen and ask follow-up questions. Afterward, lawyers can send articles to the people they meet on the subject of their conversations.

Bruce offers other tips. One of them: Go to networking events with the goal of helping other people, even if it’s pointing them to the restroom or suggesting an online resource. Another tip: Networking is about building relationships, so lawyers will need to make repeat appearances.

One comment to the Weiss’ examples agrues against using a starter dealing with politics. I agree.

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One Comment

  • Thanks, Prof. Mongue, for discussing my reluctant networker article. Just to clarify, the starter questions aren’t intended to be the first thing coming out of your mouth. If conversation lags or teeters toward shallow or boring, they can enliven or deepen the discussion. Each person should design a few just-in-case questions they feel comfortable with in the right circumstance. It’s not a formula. Judgment is still required.

    A paralegal who networks with lawyers might begin polling them about the recurring work that they tend to procrastinate on or wish they didn’t have to do. (If you are a blogger, you could make it a little research for your blog.) That conversation might open the door for discussions about ways that paralegals can free up attorneys to focus on work they enjoy doing. The next time the attorney gets behind or contemplates a dreaded task, the prospect of hiring you as a solution may come to mind.

    Take heart, Reluctant Networkers! With a little shift in perspetctive, networking might even become kinda fun.

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